How Many California Bar Exam Practice Essays Should I Take?
We are often asked how many practice essays a student should write while studying for the bar exam. In this post, we cover how many California Bar Exam practice essays students should write during their prep!
How Many California Bar Exam Practice Essays Should I Take?
It is imperative that you practice writing full essays, at least in the beginning.
Many students skip actually writing full essay answers under timed conditions as they are studying for the California bar exam. In California, under normal timed circumstances, examinees have one hour for each essay question. So, practicing essays can be very time-consuming and often skipped in favor of tasks that can be completed in less time, such as practicing multiple-choice questions. However, there are many good reasons why it is worth your time to write full practice essays:
- You will recognize any potential timing issues right away (and improve your timing tremendously).
- You will feel more confident walking into the bar exam. If you write practice essays under simulated circumstances, writing the answers for the actual exam should not feel new or foreign to you, which should hopefully boost your confidence!
- You will understand how to organize and structure your essays so that you don’t waste time on the day of the bar exam thinking about where to begin.
- It is easier to increase your essay score than it is to increase your MBE score, so this is a great way to boost your score!
After you make sure your timing is down, you can start to bullet point essays to make sure you issue spot!
How many essays should you do?
We recommend that you spend approximately 1 hour per day writing practice essays. Since California’s essays are one hour each under normal timing conditions, this means that you should be writing one practice essay per day, or approximately 5 practice essays per week. In total, this will equate to approximately 35 full essays during bar prep if you are studying full-time. As there are 14 subjects that could potentially appear on the California bar exam, you should aim to write 2-3 full practice essays for each subject.
This may seem like a lot of essays, and this is probably more than most commercial courses assign. However, as explained above, there are a lot of good reasons to practice essays. Practicing essays is the best way to increase your score as you get closer to the exam!
Further, after you feel comfortable writing full essays, you can bullet point essays and accomplish more in an hour.
Focus on the highly-tested material.
Now that you know how many essays to write, which essays should you practice writing in full?
Some issues come up again and again on the California bar exam. The best way to prepare for these issues is to write a practice essay on them. That way, when you see that same issue on the bar exam, you already know exactly what to write since you completed an answer for that issue before!
For instance, personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction are highly tested issues that frequently appear on the Civil Procedure questions. If you practice writing essays in advance, you will know how to answer and organize your answers on the exam! You can find more information about the highly-tested topics within each subject in our California Bar Exam Essay Guide, which is available here! Our California One-Sheets are also a great resource for identifying highly-tested issues. They also provide the applicable law that you need to know! The California One-Sheets are available here!
Additionally, California is often looking for certain information about various topics that you can have “pre-drafted” should you see such an issue tested on the exam. For instance, you can have a “canned” introductory paragraph pre-drafted for a Fourth Amendment search and seizure question should that be tested. Similarly, there is certain introductory information that should almost always be included in a Community Property question. The same is true for subjects like Contracts, where you should almost always mention contract formation, or Constitutional Law, where points are generally awarded for discussing the preliminary issue of standing. Practicing essays for these subjects and pre-drafting an introductory paragraph will make you much more prepared to answer a question on these subjects on the actual exam.
Review and issue-spot additional essays.
Even though 35 essays might seem like a lot, you should actually review more essays than that as you get closer to the exam. Even if you don’t have time to continue writing additional essay answers in full, it is important that you review additional essays, issue-spot, and outline a brief answer to the questions. You should aim to either write in full or review 5-10 essays for each subject that could potentially be tested on the California Bar Exam. This will give you the best chance of exposure to issues that appear over and over. This will make it easier for you to spot and write about those issues on the actual exam!
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