One way to tell whether you wrote what the graders are looking for is to check your work against high- and low-scoring actual student answers.
Here is a small collection of actual essays and performance tests, along with their scores, available for direct download.
Notes for California bar takers:
- An average written score of approximately 62.5 generally puts you on track to pass (1,440 scaled points) assuming you score enough to put you on track to pass the MBE (1,440 scaled points). So you want your essays to be at least as good as the answers scoring 65. Looking at answers scoring lower than 65 can be valuable as well, so you can get a sense of what’s missing there.
- At the bottom is an essay tracker and locator by subject.
- If you’re looking to compare your answer to a much larger bank of high-scoring and low-scoring 3,000+ actual graded essays and performance tests stretching back to 1999, BarEssays is a must. Enter your email below and confirm to get a $25 coupon code, along with my weekly prep emails.
Real graded bar essays (California unless noted)
All essay and PT answers set 1 (scores: Q1 55, Q2 60, Q3 45, Q4 60, Q5 65, Q6 60, PT A 50, PT B 55)
Nevada: 2016 February essays Day 1 (scores in order: 63.32, 90.06, 71.40 / 75.00 passing), MPTs (score in order: 67.50, 51.91 / 75.00 passing), essays Day 3 (scores in order: 61.52, 93.47, 76.43, 78.82 / 75.00 passing)
2015 July (5 sets available)
All essay and PT answers set 1 (scores: Q1 55, Q2 60, Q3 65, Q4 50, Q5 60, Q6 50, PT A 60, PT B 70)
All essay and PT answers set 2 (ZIP file with images; scores: Q1 55, Q2 75, Q3 65, Q4 55, Q5 50, Q6 50, PT A 55, PT B 60)
Essay 1: 60, 65, 62.5
Essay 2: 50, 60, 60
Essay 3: 50, 55, 60
Essay 4: 60, 70, 55
Essay 5: 50, 55, 57.5
Essay 6: 50, 60, 57.5
PT A: 55, 55
PT B: 65, 70
My analysis of the first column of essays and PTs above (my estimated scores before actual scores were sent to me + my evaluation of the answers and suggestions)
2015 February (2 sets available)
All essay and PT answers set (scores in order: Q1-6 60/55, 75/85, 60/55, 65/65, 65/60, 60/60; PTs 55/55, 60/60)
2014 July (1 CA set + 1 NY set)
New York: 2014 July New York Essays Answer Set 1 (scaled scores in order: 60.82, 44.77, 43.83, 40.62, 45.01, 31.66)
2014 February (1 set available)
All essay and PT answers (scores in order: Q1-6 55, 55, 55, 55, 55, 55; PTs 55, 60)
2013 July (2 full sets available)
Sample CA Legacy (3-hour) PT answers by yours truly
PT 2008 FEB B (Dr. Snyder) — with grader commentary
PT 2006 FEB B (Estate of Small) — with grader commentary and self-analysis
PT 2012 FEB B (State v. Dolan) — self-graded
PT 2009 JULY A (Farley) — self-graded
PT 2010 JULY A (Vasquez CC&Rs) — self-graded with notes, comments and questions for you
Snow King Mountain Resort answer, notes
Anonymous donor’s how-to-use: Barbri has a different chart that has the subjects in the left column, the month and year of the test along the top row, and the question number where the subject and test date intersect, but creating the chart this way made me focus on my weakest subjects instead of trying to predict which topics would be tested. There were certain subjects where I missed a lot of issues, e.g., constitutional law and community property, because I didn’t take ConLaw II or CP in law school.
Instead of doing the same amount of essays for each subject, I’d only outline the subjects that I’d spotted most of the issues for and use my extra time reviewing how the essays were organized in my weakest subjects for as many essays as I could. Having a chart allowed me to find those essays faster, compare how they were written from year to year, and create a template for how to approach issues that I hadn’t learned in law school.