Acing the bar exams are easy once you master the trick of writing bar exam essays. Contrary to popular belief, the bar exam essay is not a mythical creature that is difficult to conquer, but rather just a simple, straightforward analysis that can be completed by anybody who puts their mind to it. The aim of the article is to provide a quick checklist of tips that would be useful in writing a bar exam essay.
Please bear in mind of course that this guide does not guarantee that you will pass the bar exam just by following the advice here. As always, ensure that you are supported with a strong, technical understanding of the law – the tips herein are not intended to replace that part of the preparation for the exam, which is absolutely vital.
Here are some suggested tips in writing the bar exam essays:-
(a) Size doesn’t matter
It is tempting to show to the examiner just how much you know about the law by writing pages and pages about the topic requested in the question. Longer doesn’t necessarily mean better, as a long-winded, off-topic rant will not only infuriate the examiner, it will also display a failure to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant – which is an absolutely crucial skill for a lawyer to have. Learn to identify issues in an exam question and don’t be discouraged if you can’t seem to write a thesis for an answer. As long as your law is sound and your writing is comprehensible, the length of your essay should never be your concern.
(b) Just answer the question
Similar to item (a) above, at the end of the day you have to ensure that your essay answers the question. For example, if the question asks you to consider whether a particular individual in the factual scenario will be liable for the tort of negligence, you will not be getting very high marks if you proceed to recite the entire law of negligence without actually concluding whether there is liability or not, and your reasons for your conclusion. Every time you finish a paragraph of your essay, re-read the question and ensure you are not wandering off tangent in your eagerness to write about the law.
(c) Don’t be afraid of your bad memory
It can be daunting to try to memorise thousands of cases in hopes to be able to use them in your exam to “wow” your examiner. Be honest with yourself – most lawyers will not be able to recite cases off hand. After all, what are libraries for? At the end of the day, don’t be afraid if you cannot remember the name of a specific case. As long as you understand the principles of the case and the importance of the same, you can always refer to the case as “In a decided case….” as opposed to naming the case in full. The examiner will understand that you are not a robot, memorizing every case that you come across. As always, just ensure that your technical understanding of the case law is accurate.