Many students struggle to state the rules in bar exam essays. You may wonder how you can possibly memorize every rule you are expected to know. Or you may know the rules but struggle with articulating or formatting them. Here we give you some tips for stating the rules in bar exam essays.
Tips for Stating the Rules in Bar Exam Essays
1. Focus on the highly tested rules
You cannot learn every single rule that could possibly be tested when you take the bar exam. It is best to focus on the highly tested rules! The examiners do not reinvent the wheel every time they draft a bar exam fact pattern. In fact, we are able to predict many of the issues and topics that come up on the bar exam (specifically the uniform bar exam and multistate essay exam) each administration.
The first tip we for being able to state the rules in bar exam essays is to focus on the highly tested ones. This way, you are more likely to have memorized the rules that are likely to appear on your exam. See the highly tested MEE rules here (or purchase our MEE one-sheets here). This is one of the best ways to study smart for the bar exam.
2. Work on memorization
In order to learn the rules, you have to memorize them! One of the ways to get better at memorization is to consider if you are a visual or auditory learner. Visual learners learn better from using charts, colors, and diagrams. Visual learners rewrite rules in order to memorize them. Auditory learners learn better from mnemonics, rhymes, and repeating rules aloud.
If you find that one specific style of learning isn’t working for you, try a different one. We have several tips on how to memorize your bar exam outlines here.
3. Focus on the elements of the rules when you memorize
Rather than focusing on memorizing a rule word-for-word, focus on the “key words” or elements. Like instead of learning “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” you may want to start by focusing on the key elements–that is, an act, intent, and a harmful or offensive contact directly or indirectly resulting.
Breaking down a rule into its components makes memorizing much more manageable.
4. Bold or underline key elements or words
When you write a rule, bold or underline key elements or words in your bar exam essay answer. If the issue is the standard of review for a statute that discriminates based on gender and you happen to remember that intermediate scrutiny is applied and that an exceedingly persuasive justification must be shown, then bold these words. This will immediately draw the attention of the grader who is grading your essay.
5. Practice writing the rules
Since you have to write essays on bar exam day, it is worth it to also practice writing the rules (rather than just explaining them aloud or thinking about them). Practicing past bar exam essays is the best way to perfect stating the rules in bar exam essays.
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