We get a lot of questions about how to write a conclusion on a bar exam essay. Many students struggle with writing conclusions on bar exam essays because they are not used to having to write strong conclusions on law school exam answers. Thus, it is a new skill that you have to develop when you approach bar exam essays.
Below are a few tips on how to write a conclusion on a bar exam essay.
How to Write a Conclusion on a Bar Exam Essay
Write an actual conclusion!
This may seem obvious, but you will want to actually conclude. Here are some examples of how to conclude:
- If it is clear that the plaintiff should win, write, “The plaintiff will prevail.”
- If you are pretty sure that the plaintiff will win, write, “The plaintiff will likely prevail.”
- If you are not sure that the plaintiff will win, write, “It is a close call, but the plaintiff will likely prevail.” You can also qualify this and say something like “The plaintiff will likely prevail if the plaintiff can show…” (whatever you think is necessary for the plaintiff to prevail).
Most bar exam essays will be looking for a conclusion. Generally, there is a “right” or a “better” answer.
Examples of how NOT to conclude are the following:
- “It is unclear who will win.”
- “The court could decide either way”
These conclusions are too wishy-washy and you will generally lose points if you write these types of conclusions. It is true that there are some issues where the conclusion is unclear. However, even then, it is still better to commit to a side and say one party will win (even if you have to express uncertainty in that conclusion or qualify the conclusion). This shows your ability to think like a lawyer and apply the law to the facts to arrive at a rational conclusion.
In general, do not introduce an issue by starting with a conclusion.
Many students are in the habit of writing in the “CRAC” (conclusion, rule, analysis, conclusion) formula–that is, by introducing each issue with a conclusion. For example, if the question asks whether Paula is liable for battery, a student may start their essay answer by saying, “Paula is not liable for battery because no harm occurred” and then the student would discuss the rule, analysis, and conclude again.
We do not recommend this approach. The main reason that we do not recommend this approach is because we frequently see students get significantly reduced scores if their conclusion is incorrect. If you start your response to an issue by stating an incorrect conclusion, it appears as though some graders barely ready your rule and analysis and just assume that you did not state the rule or analyze properly. Then, the grader reduces your score more than deserved. We have reviewed thousands of bar exam essays and we notice this time and time again. However, if you start with a neutral issue statement (“Is Paula liable for battery?”), state the rule, apply the law to the facts, and conclude, you will likely not risk such a large reduction in points because a grader will more closely read your rule and analysis.
Thus, in general, we recommend using “IRAC” (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion) rather than “CRAC” in your bar exam essay answers.
There is one time in which we do recommend that you start with a conclusion: this is when you are sure your conclusion is correct! If you know your conclusion is correct, you can state it first. This will give the grader confidence in your essay answer from the beginning. The grader might not read your rule and analysis as closely so if you struggled with those portions, a strong conclusion can make up for a weaker rule or analysis.
If you have any questions on how to write a conclusion on a bar exam essay answer, please feel free to contact us or comment below.
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