If you are looking to write a better bar exam analysis when you answer bar exam essay questions, you are not alone! Many students struggle with the analysis portion of a bar exam essay. Students struggle to write a detailed analysis and include enough facts in their essay answer. Here, we give you five tips on how to write a better bar exam analysis.
How to Write a Better Bar Exam Analysis
1. Learn the law as well as possible, focusing on the highly tested issues.
The first thing you can do to write a better bar exam analysis is to learn the law as well as you possibly can! It is hard to apply the law to the facts in a meaningful way if you do not know what the law is. We find many students struggle with the analysis portion simply due to the fact that they need to memorize the law better.
To make the most of your bar exam studies, start by focusing on the highly tested areas of law. (If you are in a Uniform Bar Exam or Multistate Essay Exam jurisdiction, check out our free PDF/video of the highly tested MEE topics here or purchase our MEE one-sheets here!)
2. Focus on finding a fact to back up each element of the law.
If you are able to recite the law, the next thing you should do is try to find facts to back up each element. For example, if you are trying to convince the Examiners that Paula should be guilty of battery, first you would state the rule: “A battery is an act with intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact or imminent apprehension of that contact and a harmful or offensive contact directly or indirectly results.”
Then, you would find a fact to back up each critical element–e.g., “Paula acted when she balled her hands up in a fist and punched Dave. She had the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact because her goal was to hit him in the face. A harmful contact indirectly resulted because although her fist did not ultimately contact Dave’s face, she hit the painting on the wall behind Dave and the painting fell on Dave as a result…”
This is a comprehensive analysis of battery and it shows the grader that you are methodical! Using this tip is a great way to write a better bar exam analysis.
3. Try the “highlighter trick” when you practice.
The highlighter trick is something we teach students when they have trouble writing a detailed analysis. After you are done writing your essay answer, go back to the facts and highlight all of the facts that you referred to in your answer. If critical facts are not highlighted–or if the page is barely highlighted at all–this is a sign you need to use more facts. So go back to your essay answer and insert facts into your essay answer where they belong. This is an active way to train yourself to use more facts in your essay answer.
4. Have someone read your essay and tell you what the fact pattern was about.
Another way to increase your use of facts is to see if another person can tell you what the fact pattern was about simply by reading your essay answer. If the reader is not able to decipher the critical events that occurred in the fact pattern just by reading your essay answer, this is a sign you need to include more facts. (See, for example, the analysis of battery above–a reader would be able to tell you exactly what happened by reading that analysis!)
This is a way to test if you are writing an adequate analysis or if you still need to improve.
5. Don’t worry too much about writing eloquently!
If you find yourself writing short essay answers and getting hung up things like word choice, transition sentences, vocabulary, and sounding “lawyerly”, put that aside for now! Don’t worry too much about writing eloquently. The bar examiners understand you are under strict time constraints and a lot of pressure. If you want to write a better bar exam analysis, you need to stop focusing on these things!
Instead, focus on using IRAC (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion) and beefing up your analysis with as many facts as possible. If you need to, give yourself a minimum word count to aim for.
By focusing on substance rather than overall style, you will write a better bar exam analysis and get a higher bar exam score.
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