What Does The California Performance Test Evaluate?
The California Bar Exam is a two-day exam that covers a wide variety of different subject areas. In total, the exam contains five separate one-hour essay questions, one 90-minute performance test, and 200 MBE questions. The first day of the California Bar Exam is reserved for the essay questions and the California performance test. But what exactly does the California performance test evaluate? In this, we’ll answer that question!
What Does The California Performance Test Evaluate?
One area that many test-takers struggle to prepare for is the performance test. The reason? The performance test can vary greatly in how it is structured and what skills it chooses to test. It is a crucial part of the California Bar Exam and can make or break a passing score. The performance test on the California Bar Exam is worth the same value as two regular essay questions. In total, the performance test accounts for roughly twenty percent of a test-takers written score. Therefore, it is important to understand how the performance test is usually structured and what is generally assesses.
The Performance Test Structure
The first day of the California Bar Exam is split up into a morning and afternoon session. The performance test is included in the afternoon session. Each performance test on the California Bar Exam will always contain two separate and distinct packets. The first packet is regularly labeled as the “Instructions and File.” This packet is comprised of a table of contents, instructions to the examinee, a task memorandum, and the client file. Some performance tests may include a formatting memorandum after the task memorandum.
The table of contents lists the documents included in the client file and the pages each document can be located. The instructions page summarizes what guidelines the examiners are providing to the examinee. The task memorandum assigns the specifics of the performance test assignment at hand and highlights important facts and documents. If included, the formatting memorandum will explain how the answer should be written. Lastly, the client file will consist of certain documents that make up the facts of the assignment.
The second packet is labeled “Library.” Much like the “Instructions and File,” the first page of the Library will be a table of contents. The table of contents will list all the statutes and/or cases that are included in the packet. The Library will also indicate the page numbers for each statue and/or case. After the table of contents, the rest of the documents will be either cases and/or statutes. These cases and/or statutes may or may not be used to solve the assignment.
What the Performance Test…Tests
The performance test is designed to evaluate your ability to understand and apply legal authorities to a factual problem. You may be tested on a wide range of subjects and asked to complete certain tasks. For example, you may be asked to analyze a contractual dispute and provide a memorandum to your hypothetical boss. You may be asked to draft a persuasive brief based on certain facts throughout the client file and library. You may be asked to write a letter to a client – you get the idea. The performance test is tough because examinees are required to do more than regurgitate legal concepts. Your problem-solving skills, ability to follow instructions, and capacity to explain your reasoning are all front and center.
It’s important to practice as many performance tests as possible so that you can familiarize yourself with the process. Many test-takers shrug off the performance test as something they can “figure out on the fly.” More often than not, these test-takers find themselves overwhelmed and panicked when faced with the actual performance test.
How the Performance Test is Graded
First and foremost, performance tests are graded on an examinee’s ability to follow instructions. On top of that, the content, organization, diligence, and quality of the final written product are all evaluated. The same numerical score as a regular essay question is required to pass the performance test. The minimum passing raw score for both the essays and the performance test is a 62.5. As mentioned above, the performance test is weighed as two essay questions, so give yourself ample time to tackle it.
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