Good Essays Are the Easiest to Grade: How to Get the Big Points on Your Bar Exam Essays

Oh, it’s you again.

Last week, we discussed 5 counterintuitive truths about the MBE over email (not published on the blog—sign up for my emails to get the link).

At the end, I gave you a pop quiz with some essay excerpts and had you guess which one did better. I got back varying answers:

 

Before I reveal the winner, can I just say how this shows how subjective essay grading is?

Graders are people. They have biases like we do. They get tired. They’re not consistent. (Yeah, they’re actually not reptilian robots 😲)

The winner is…

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How to Systematically Identify Issues in an Essay (Without “Issue Spotting”)

Be honest now. Imagine you’re mentoring a starry-eyed 1L starting law school. How would you explain how to “spot issues” in an essay? How exact and specific can you get?

Is it just a mystical process where the crystal ball in your head somehow divines issues from the heavens?

The MBE isn’t the only section you gotta worry about. Every fellow repeater who retook the bar with me had to improve on their essays. Unlike multiple choice with an objectively correct answer, essays are subject to the whims of the grader.

On its surface, an essay is simply a string of IRACs (easier said than done of course). Prep companies and law school tend to focus on the “R” and “A” and assume that you already know how to find the “I” naturally.

That’s funny (not really) because an issue that’s never raised, or an irrelevant issue, is completely worthless.

But has anyone actually taught you how to identify those issues? They give you the IRAC framework and leave you to figure it out.

That’s why I’m going to explain it to you in more detail than this:

issue spotting

To spot issues, try your best.

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Bar Exam Success Commandment 3: How to Exploit Scarcity (and Improve Your Bar Essays)

Excuses, excuses… Let me know if any of these sound familiar.

We like to tell people we “don’t have time” or that “time is the most valuable resource” or that “life is short~” (even though we love to procrastinate).

You’ll never hear me say that last one. Life is actually really long! Can you even imagine being confined in prison for more than 1-2 years? Compare that time to our lifespan of 80-90+ years. Having lived 31 years already feels like forever, and with my luck, I’ll have to go through it two more times.

Point is, we do have a lot of time at our disposal. We just choose to squander a lot of it, too.

Whatever “squander” means to you, if that’s the way you want to live your life, I support your right to do so. But don’t blame the human condition or your age for a “short” life; blame yourself.

Then what’s the true scarcity of this world? What is the one thing that’s radically limited and expires very quickly?

Money? Everyone wants it, but you can always make more.

Time? You don’t necessarily lose time forever. You can get your time back to do what matters to you: Hire a maid instead of cleaning, get takeout instead of cooking, get Magicsheets & Approsheets to assist with practice instead of painstakingly recreating condensed outlines and essay attack sheets, etc.

(BTW the time for investigating and hemming and hawing is over; do not get them if you’re a tool collector who wonders why they’re so overwhelmed)

I think there’s something even more scarce.

Read on to see my answer and how you can use this scarcity principle to give yourself an edge on the written portions of the bar exam.

Continue reading “Bar Exam Success Commandment 3: How to Exploit Scarcity (and Improve Your Bar Essays)”