How to Construct an Essay Response

The bar exam doesn’t test knowledge, but it does require it. Yes, you have to memorize the material, but knowledge is only one part of passing the bar exam. Knowing the answer is the easy part. You also have to know what your audience wants and how to do it. You do this by familiarizing yourself with how the material will be tested and then learning how to communicate your understanding of it in a way the bar examiners expect.

    1. Familiarize yourself with the material and how it is tested by going through essay questions.
    2. Learn  what the bar examiners expect by going through released/sample responses.
    3. Learn how meet those expectations by constructing essay responses.

At this point you are not answering the question. You are figuring out how to answer the question. You are not yet performance ready. You are practicing for performance. Therefore, you are constructing essay responses by:

  • Using your notes/outline.
  • Not worrying about time.
  • Focusing on form and substance: write what your audience wants in the way they want it.
  • Spending equal time doing and reviewing (after you construct a response compare with released/sample responses, check to make sure you identified the issues, have the relevant rule, used the facts, etc.).

Is this the only way to study and prepare for the bar exam?  Of course not. What matters is that you study the material every day and practice for performance.

 -ksk

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