Why You Need To Study For The California Performance Test
There’s a lot to focus on when studying for the bar exam. Many test-takers spend all of there time learning substantive law. However, they don’t invest at all in mastering the performance test (PT) portion of the exam.
In this post, we discuss why you need to study for the California performance test.
Why You Need To Study For The California Performance Test
1. You improve your chances of passing the bar
In order to improve your chances of passing the bar, spend more time practicing Performance Tests (PT). You increase your chances of passing the written portion of the bar exam if you do well on the PT. If you’re taking the California Bar, for example, if you pass the PT with an 80 (160 raw points), you can fail all the essays (with an average of 54 points on each essay), and still pass the written portion of the exam. And if you are taking the Attorney Bar, and don’t have to take the MBE, you’ve then passed the California Bar Exam.
Even if you pass the PT with a 65, then you need to score an average of 60 points on the essays to pass the written portion of the exam. Remember, one PT counts for two essays. Therefore, it is a lot easier to nab 1 higher PT score, than 5 higher essay scores.
2. How to tackle studying for the Performance Test
It is the unconscious memory that helps us understand how things work. The PT is like riding a bike. Once you learn how to do a PT, you will never forget it. Practicing PTs are not like memorizing the law. It’s different in that the exercise of you practicing PTs gets stored within the procedural memory.
When you’re studying for your bar exam, treat PT as if you’re actually taking the exam. This means that you should: (1) put everything away, (2) print the entire PT, and (3) time yourself. When you begin, you will want to first read the task memo. Read it twice if you have to. This is the most important part of the PT. It is imperative that you are responsive to the call of the PT. What do they want you to do? An objective memo, persuasive memo, a demand letter, or something else?
Once you understand the task, review the library’s resources with the specific purpose of defining the information to be utilized in your answer. It is up to you whether you want to read the facts specific to your case first or read the governing law and the cases first. Whatever you do, make sure to outline your answer and adapt it to the particular format requested.
Now it’s time to write! Start with the rules. Find and discuss the general rule, then enumerate specific examples and compare, and finally discuss the more explicit rule that’s on point. And then you can start discussing the factors that they have provided.
Now that you have laid out the law, go over your facts, put that evidence (or relevant facts) down and analyze it. The analysis is applying the law to the facts. A general discussion of facts outside the context of a rule is not necessary and not a good use of time. Focus on only those facts that are relevant to the analysis. Bar examiners already know the facts of the case, provided to you. They want you to analyze them. So, there’s no need to repeat what they already know.
After you’ve laid out the law, and analyzed the facts, you may finally write a conclusion paragraph that is responsive to the task. Unlike in law school exams, the conclusion for your PT matters. We outline the difference between bar exam and law school answers here.
All in all, a PT answer should be comprised of the rule of law, discussion facts in the context of rule of law (AKA analysis), and conclusion. PT might not require a lot of memorizing, but it requires practice. So do not neglect spending time practicing PTs during your bar study.
Here are our suggestions on Tips for the California Performance Test.
3. PT is a basic fundamental lawyering skill
Performing well on the PT is a basic fundamental skill. It is a skill you will also need when you are practicing law.
Most things that you are tested on during the bar exam will not be directly applicable or useful in your law career. The bar exam simply covers too many areas of law, and most test takers are likely going to subspecialize to some degree. This is generally true with the exception of the PT. The California PT is an important tool that will likely be used later on in your career. Dissecting rules and relevant facts are basic lawyering skills.
In general, it is very important not to neglect studying for the PT, and schedule ample time to do as many practice PTs as you can. If you have never seen a PT, refer to what to expect on a California Performance Test.
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