Easily Find Key Rules on the Performance Test

I asked Eddie Reyes of Jurax Bar to teach you how to do better on the performance tests, since it’s such an overlooked portion of the bar exam. So he wrote this guide on how to easily find rules in the Library of the performance test.

Although he is geared toward the California Bar Exam, since the California PT is so similar to the MPT, you’ll find these tips to be useful no matter which state bar you’re taking.

I also asked him for a special deal for any of my readers looking for a tutor for CA essays or PTs. Check the end of this article for more details. Take it away, Eddie!

Greetings. My name is Eddie Reyes and I am a California Bar Exam tutor over at Jurax Bar. It took me several rounds to pass the exam but throughout the journey, I figured out key concepts to write a passing Performance Test answer. In this article, I will share with you the essential concept of finding performance test rules.

In particular, I will cover the three classifications of rules that are found in the Library. If you read far enough, I will also cover key locations where you are likely to find rules that will significantly earn you points.

If you classify the rules into three types, then you are able to determine their value. Imagine a $1 bill and compare the value to a $50 bill. Now do the same between a $50 bill and a $100 dollar bill. Of course you want to go for the $100 bill. It is the same with the rules and I will show you how to get these valuable points.

The First Type of Rules on the Performance Test: The Low Hanging Fruit

I will not go into detail with the first classification of rules. The reason for this is because most examinees are able to identify these rules. I call these the “Low Hanging Fruit Rules” because they are usually very obvious. Here’s an example from the February 2021 California Bar Exam.

1st type of performance test rules

As you can see, the rules are very apparent because they are enumerated. They are not always enumerated, but nonetheless, they are usually easy to identify. Let’s go to the second type.

The Second Type of Rules on the Performance Test: The Less Than Apparent Rules

The second type of rule is the “Less Than Apparent Rules.” I will also provide a visual example of these types of rules. Moreover, I will also show you a quick way to identify them.

One key technique is to distinguish the facts in the Library cases from the rules found in the Library cases. What I mean by distinguish is to identify the rules and pay attention to them. Also, identify the facts, but do not, I repeat, do not pay too much attention to them.

For the most part, approaching the Performance Test is very mechanical. At least up to this point.

However, when you engage the Less Than Apparent Rules, it does take skill. As such, you have to practice this step. Building these skills is beyond the scope of this article. However, I will share with you the objective.

In very simple terms: you should be able to quickly find more essential rules. Let’s look at an example. This is from a case opinion in the Library from the October 2020 California Bar Exam. Focus on the content that is underlined in green.

2nd type of performance test rules

I underlined in green an example of a key rule. Identifying the Less Than Apparent Rules is a very basic step. In fact, many times they are accompanied by a case name or a statute. 

This activity doesn’t seem too difficult, does it? It’s not.

Then why, you may ask, do many people not discuss the key rules? I provide a response in the next paragraph. 

A Key Concept for Finding the Less Than Apparent Rules

The key is the manner in which you locate and apply the Less Than Apparent Rules.

To be very direct, to quickly find these types of rules, you have to skip some paragraphs and not read them.

Am I asking you to not read a case from beginning to end as you have done for years? In Western society, we learn to read from left to right … without skipping content. But for the Performance Test, in order to write a thorough analysis within 90 minutes, you have to apply reading techniques. Remember, this is the Performance Test, and you are given excessive content that you do not need. As such, you have to quickly filter out what you don’t need and you have to quickly figure out what you do need.

Allow me to discuss the concept of focusing on essential information. This way, you can appreciate the significance of this step.

I now use a Seven Step approach for the first half of the Performance Test (the initial 45 minutes). There is a chart below that describes these steps.  When I was developing this method, I was preparing for the Bar Exam. I would majestically complete the steps where I could identify and apply the Low Hanging Fruit Rules. But then I would run out of time. I knew I was not using many of the essential rules. I failed the Bar Exam that time.

After getting over the acute sting, I set out to develop a process that would allow me to quickly identify the Less Than Apparent Rules. Here is what I did: I skipped reading the facts in the case.

Think about it! The Performance Test is a closed universe exam. The law is exhaustive. As such, you should be able to quickly find the rules and use them. There is no need for the facts in the case at this point. If you skip the facts, then you will be able to quickly identify the essential rules. Keep in mind that the Bar Examiners feel compelled to distract you so that you do not identify and apply the key rules. As such, you have to develop a method to counter their tactics that are intended to slow you down. At this phase, skipping the facts in the Library will allow you to filter out what is unnecessary.

To be clear, I am not saying that you should not read the facts of the case in the Library. You should read them. But read them later. Remember that you should be methodical in your reading approach. Again, approaching the cases does take practice and skill.

The steps that I use are detailed below. Notice that this discussion on the Less Than Apparent Rules is Step Number 5 (I also call these rules “Other Major Rules”).

Brief Summary of Activities With Suggested Times. First Half (45 Minutes)

Step 1.​ Identify the Task (“Task”) in the Memorandum (“Memo”). (5 minutes)

Step 2.​ Identify the Major Issues in the File (6 Minutes)

Step 3.​ Identify the Major Rules in the Library (6 minutes).

Step 4.​ Skim File (total of 2 minutes).

Step 5.​ Identify Elements of the Rules. Also, look for Other Major Rules in the Library (16 minutes).

Step 6.​ Skim File (total of 2 minutes).

Step 7.​ Identify the Library Facts (total of 8 minutes).

Keep in mind that this will only apply to the first half of the PT (the first 45 minutes).

Many times, examinees can earn a passing score by just using the Low Hanging Fruit and the Less Than Apparent Rules. Now, let’s talk about the rules that can very well get you at least 5 additional points (the next score increment on the California PT). These are the facts from the cases found in the Library.

The Third Type of Rules on the Performance Test: The Library Facts

Now we are going to talk about the facts from the cases. I also refer to these types of rules as Rules Disguised as Facts. Many examinees do not use these types of rules. I will tell you why. 

In law school, students are required to debrief a case. As such, they have to distinguish between several components of a case. For example, there is the issue, the facts, the holding, and so on. Here is one result of this: many law graduates do not expect an overlap of components to overlap with each other. But for the California Bar Exam, the components do overlap. 

What I am saying is that the facts in the cases can and should be used as rules. Well, at least some of the facts from the cases. Let’s look at an example. This is from the February 2017 Performance Test. Notice that the facts can be converted into a rule. The relevant content is underlined.

3rd type of performance test rules

The key is to convert the facts into a rule.

In the example above, if the state was prejudiced, then that could cause the bond to be forfeited. Of course you would have to engage the Performance Test to fully understand the meaning of the language. But the point here is to recognize that facts can be converted into rules.

Let’s do another example. See if you can convert some fact(s) into a rule. This is from July 2017.

In this situation, the facts can easily be converted, or a general principle may be hiding in plain sight within the discussion of the facts.

The rule here could read as such: Unreasonable mistakes amount to unreasonable suspicion.

If you read up to this point, I will give you a super bonus tip.

Bonus Tip: Find Guaranteed Rules

Key Library facts are usually located in one consistent area: For 100% of the time since the California Bar Exam went from three to two days of testing, these rules are found on the last page of the last case in the Library.

We just did two examples. For both examples, those rules were found on the last case and on the last page of the case. The bar examiners know that many examinees will run out of time. As such, you can quickly grab points by learning to convert these facts into rules.

The point of this article is so that you can find the key rules in a timely manner and not run out of time. I hope this information helped.

For help with writing essays and performance tests on the California Bar Exam, please visit my site: https://juraxbar.com/tutoring/ or email me at juraxbar@gmail.com. If you’re a reader of Make This Your Last Time, ask for the MTYLT Special for an exclusive deal.

I am also available on an hourly basis. MBE tutoring is also available. Thank you for your time and I wish you continued success.

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