This advice is not something you will hear from a commercial bar exam course but we strongly believe in it based on the thousands of graded bar exam essays we have read from Uniform Bar Exam states, Multistate Essay Exam states, and states that do not administer either exam. In this post, we tell you how to write bar exam issue statements that are effective and that maximize your points on a bar exam essay answer!
How to Write Bar Exam Issue Statements
The best way to write a bar exam issue statement is to quickly draw the graders attention to what issue you are discussing.
For example, if a bar exam fact pattern raises two issues: whether David is liable for assault and whether David is liable for battery, some issue statements (or “issue headings”) you may want to use are:
Is David liable for Assault?
Is David liable for Battery?
Or you may simply want to write:
Many courses teach long-form bar exam issue statements. So, instead of using a simple issue heading, many courses teach you to start with an issue statement that incorporates the conclusion and the facts. For example, an example of an issue statement that you may be taught to write is something like “David is liable for assault because he intended to cause an imminent apprehension when he swung the tree branch at Paula and an imminent apprehension resulted.”
While this issue statement sounds good, there are a few reasons we recommend simpler issue statements:
- First, that issue statement contains the rule, analysis, and conclusion all in one sentence. Presumably, after you state the issue, you will be repeating all of this if you are using IRAC (as you should be using!). Thus, it is repetitive to incorporate the facts, analysis, and conclusion more than once. And it takes time.
- Students take too much time writing issue statements and often do not write detailed analyses as a result. We find many students take a lot of time to formulate an eloquent issue statement and, as a result, the rest of their essay suffers (usually their analysis)! It is better to have a simpler issue statement and a well-thought-out analysis. More points are allocated to the analysis portion of any given bar exam essay.
- Lastly, we do not recommend starting with a conclusion first. Not only is it repetitive since you will be re-stating your conclusion at the end of your analysis of that issue, but if you happen to state the wrong conclusion in your issue statement, some graders appear to not even read the rule, analysis, and conclusion that follows the issue statement.
Short and simple issue statements combined with an accurate rule statement, a meaningful analysis, and a correct conclusion are a better way to capture points on your bar exam essay answer.
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