Bar Essay Graded Answer Bank

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.

To that end, you’ll find two things here:

  1. A small collection of actual graded essays and performance tests, along with their scores.
  2. Below the essay bank is an editable California bar essay and issue locator by subject and year.
Seeking donations from any state and any year! If you want future generations of bar takers to benefit from your work (like you will with the below), please consider donating your returned essays and PT answers along with their scores, to brian [ ] makethisyourlasttime.com. Scans or photos are acceptable.

Real graded CA bar essays (some other states available)

2020 February2019 July2019 February2018 July2018 February2017 July2017 February2016 July2016 February2015 July2015 February2014 July2014 February2013 July

Essay 1 (Torts): 607057.56050 

Essay 2 (Prof Resp): 657557.557.560 

Essay 3 (Contracts Remedies): 606552.56060 

Essay 4 (CA Evidence): 656057.57065 

Essay 5 (Business Associations): 6555656555 

California 90-minute PT: 57.560605570

My quick assessment of the 5th set of essays (in bold)

The recurring theme I see in your essays (nice job on the PT) is that issues are missing. I think your IRACing is good. However, you can’t do the IRACs if you don’t bring up the I (issue) in the first place.

To this end, Approsheets may be helpful. In addition, I’ve heard good things about Mary Basick’s blue book (2nd ed.) 

Sample answers aren’t out yet, but I’d suggest looking at the higher-scoring answers in the essay answer bank for reference

Examples of things you could have discussed:

Q1. NIED. What recovery is possible (part of the questions)

Q2. PR essays typically have general calls (what violations or obligations are there)… Issue identification is especially important.

Q3. Valid contract formation. Could have discussed more specific sub-rules and corresponding facts for the elements for specific performance (final call of the question)

Lesser point: Since you’re handwriting, presentation becomes more important. Try to leave enough spacing between issues and discussions so that it’s easier for the grader to see where discussions end and begin.


Essay 1 (Civil Procedure): 5555555062.565605565 

Essay 2 (Remedies, Con Law): 6062.5705562.552.55572.55060 

Essay 3 (Criminal Law and Procedure): 5560556057.565555570 

Essay 4 (Prof Resp): 605550505552.555655555 

Essay 5 (Contracts): 6057.5605557.55565706055 

California 90-minute PT: 5560606562.555706060 

My assessment of essays in the 5th column of essays above (in bold).

Essay and PT set 1 (scores: Q1 55, Q2 57.5, Q3 62.5, Q4 55, Q5 57.5, PT 70) 

Essay and PT set 2 (scores: Q1 55, Q2 62.5, Q3 60, Q4 60, Q5 62.5, PT 62.5)

Essay 1 (Wills, Trusts, Community Property): 70605565 

Essay 2 (Torts): 57.56565 

Essay 3 (Real Property): 52.562.56065/70 

Essay 4 (Civil Procedure, Evidence): 655560 

Essay 5 (Prof Resp): 5552.560 

California 90-minute PT: 57.5606065/60

Essay 1 (Contracts): 6055 

Essay 2 (Evidence): 6565 

Essay 3 (Prof Resp): 75 (sample from BarEssays), 55 

Essay 4 (CA Comm Prop): 6055 

Essay 5 (Con Law): 5550 

California 90-minute PT: 5555 

Essay and PT answers set 1 (scores: Q1 60, Q2 50, Q3 50, Q4 55, Q5 50, PT 55) 

Essay and PT answers set 2 (scores: Q1 65, Q2 57.5, Q3 55, Q4 65, Q5 55, PT 60)

New York2018 July New York (UBE) MEE and MPT set (MEE 1-6 scores in order 57.06, 44.55, 55.46, 41.42, 53.79, 40.09; MPT scores in order 49.42, 52.44; total 137.7)

Essay 1: 55 (Brian’s Annotations)

Essay 2: 60 

Essay 3: 60 

Essay 4: 65 (Brian’s Annotations)

Essay 5: 65 

California 90-minute PT: 65 

Essay and PT answers set 1 (scores: Q1 55, Q2 55, Q3 65, Q4 50, Q5 60, PT 60) 

Essay and PT answers set 2 (scores: Q1 55, Q2 60, Q3 55, Q4 70, Q5 60, PT 50)

Essay 1: 6072.56065606560 

Essay 2: 6062.56060555565 

Essay 3: 6562.56555555050 

Essay 4: 60656570606065 

Essay 5: 6562.56060555560 

California 90-minute PT: 6557.575, –, –, 5545

Essay 1: –, 62.5605550 

Essay 2: –, 57.5556050 

Essay 3: –, 65557065 

Essay 4: –, 60606050 

Essay 5: –, 65605565 

Essay 6: –, 65606060 

PT A: 57.570557065 

PT B: 6060706560

Essay 1: 5565655555 

Essay 2: 5555605545 

Essay 3: 6050605555 

Essay 4: 5565555550 

Essay 5: 5560756055 

Essay 6: 5060505555 

PT A: –, –, 505055 

PT B: 50, –, 606055 

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) 

Essay and PT answers set 2 (scores: Q1 55, Q2 50, Q3 50, Q4 50, Q5 55, Q6 50, PT A 55, PT B 60) 

Essay and PT answers set 3 (scores: Q1 60, Q2 57.5, Q3 65, Q4 52.5, Q5 65, Q6 60, PT A 60, PT B 57.5)

NevadaEssays 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)

Essay 1: 606562.5 

Essay 2: 506060 

Essay 3: 505560 

Essay 4: 607055 

Essay 5: 505557.5 

Essay 6: 506057.5 

PT A: 5555 

PT B: 6570 

My analysis of the first column of essays and PTs above (in bold) (my estimated scores before actual scores were sent to me + my evaluation of the answers and suggestions)

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) 

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 and PT answers set 3 (scores: Q1 50, Q2 50, Q3 50, Q4 60, Q5 55, Q6 55, PT A 55, PT B 55)

Essay 1: 60 

Essay 2: 65 

Essay 3: 60 

Essay 4: 55 

Essay 5: 55 

Essay 6: 60 

PT A: 60 

PT B: 55

Essay and PT answers set 1 (scores in order: Q1 60, Q2 55, Q3 55, Q4 60, Q5 55, Q6 55; PT A 50, PT B 50) 

Essay and PT answers set 2 (scores in order: Q1 60/55, Q2 75/85, Q3 60/55, Q4 65/65, Q5 65/60, Q6 60/60; PT A 55/55, PT B 60/60)

Essay 1: 65 

Essay 2: 60 

Essay 3: 55 

Essay 4: 55 

Essay 5: 55 

Essay 6: 55 

PT A: 60 

PT B: 70 

New York2014 July New York essay answers set (scaled scores in order: 60.82, 44.77, 43.83, 40.62, 45.01, 31.66)

Essay and PT answers set 1 (scores in order: Q1-6 55, 55, 55, 55, 55, 55; PTs 55, 60)

Essay 1: 6560 

Essay 2: 5550 

Essay 3: 5550 

Essay 4: 5055 

Essay 5: 5055 

Essay 6: 6060 

PT A: 556570 

PT B: 6055 

Issue Outlines

Notes for California bar takers:

  • Prior to the 2020 October exam, an average written score of approximately 62.5 generally put 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 the benchmark was to want your essays to be at least as good as the answers scoring 65. Looking at answers scoring lower than 65 could be instructive as well so that you can get a sense of what’s missing there.
  • The passing score has been lowered to 1,390 scaled points. Whether this has any effect on essay grading or difficulty, we don’t know. All else equal, we can conjecture that there’s more leeway on the essays and the PT. That is, you may not need to shoot for 65 (although you should do your best anyway). But remember that whether you pass is based on your scores on both the written portion and the MBE portion. There is now leeway on the MBE side as well.
  • 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. Check my review if you’re on the fence. Enter your email below and confirm to get a $25 coupon code, along with my weekly prep emails.

Sample legacy (3-hour) CA PT answers by Brian

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
Snow King Mountain Resort answer, notes
Pearson



California essay and issue locator by subject

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.