Write better, faster Michigan bar exam essays with this approach!
If you need a good Michigan bar exam essay approach, you are not alone. Many students struggle with how to approach Michigan bar exam essay questions. Some students write law school essays in response to bar exam essay questions and then miss out on a lot of potential points! Others do not closely answer the questions posed and also miss out on points even if they know the law!
Here we tell you how to write better, faster Michigan bar exam essay answers. These tips come from a top scorer on the Michigan bar exam (184 on the essay portion). We read hundreds of Michigan bar exam essays each administration and have consistently written the highest number of successful Michigan bar exam appeals in recent years. Here is what we have found.
Key tips for a stellar Michigan bar exam essay approach:
1. Focus on the call of the question!
One of the most important things to keep in mind is to focus on the call of the question. The “call of the question” is the part in bold at the bottom of the essay question that tells you what to talk about. For example, if you review Question 11 from the July 2019 Michigan bar exam, below, you will see that there are two questions posed.
The first question asks “whether Jones can establish a defamation claim against Mikey” and the second asks “whether Tom can be liable for his son making the allegedly defamatory statement.” So, answer these two questions in order! Follow directions and you are already halfway there to getting a high score.
2. Use IRAC.
For each issue presented (in the above question, defamation and parental liability) state the rule, apply the law, and conclude. This is a formula! Don’t worry about writing an eloquent, engaging essay. You just need the key components of IRAC. So for every issue:
- RULE: Start by stating the rule. It is so important to have the rules of law memorized because the rule is going to shape your analysis and conclusion. So, if you don’t know the rules of law, you will struggle with the analysis and conclusion.
- ANALYSIS: Next, apply the law to the facts. You do not need to argue both sides in most cases. A straightfoward application of the law to the facts will suffice. We recommend you tie facts to each element of the law.
- CONCLUSION: Lastly, state a clear conclusion. For example, “Yes, Jones can establish a defamation claim” or “No, Jones cannot.” (You can use the words “probably” or “likely” if you prefer, but you should arrive at a specific conclusion!)
3. Omit the fluff.
Graders don’t like fluff.
Don’t give an entire background of contract formation if the facts tell you a contract was formed. Don’t discuss personal jurisdiction if subject matter jurisdiction is the issue.
Don’t start your essay by summarizing all the facts (the grader definitely knows the facts and does not want to reread them!)
Also, it should go without saying, but don’t beg for points, give excuses for not knowing the law or running out of time.
Focus your essay answer around the call of the question.
Want to see an example of this approach?
If you want to see an example of this Michigan bar exam essay approach, read essay question #13 from the February 2019 exam here and review the model answer here. (Note many past Michigan bar exams can be found on the Michigan BLE’s website here!)
Watch this video below where we cover how to approach this essay question, common mistakes we saw students make on the actual exam, and how to write an essay answer that earns a score of “10”!
(Note that this was a live essay question review session where we gave all of our Michigan bar exam course students the option to attend the review session and ask questions.)
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