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Passing the Essay Portion of the California Bar Exam: Insider Tips and Strategies

  1. Understand the format of the exam: The essay portion of the California bar exam consists of five essay questions that are based on the subjects tested on the exam. These questions are designed to test your ability to analyze legal issues, apply the law to given facts, and communicate your analysis effectively.

  2. Study the relevant law: The essay portion of the California bar exam is based on the law that is tested on the exam. Therefore, it is essential that you have a thorough understanding of the relevant law before you take the exam. Unfortunately, memorization alone will not suffice in passing the essay portion of the California bar exam. It's important that you understand how the rule applies. This includes studying past essay exams to see how a certain legal rule was used with a unique set of facts. You have to understand how one legal rule can be used in multiple ways.

  3. Practice writing essays: One of the best ways to prepare for the essay portion of the California bar exam is to practice writing essays. This will help you develop your writing skills and become more comfortable with the format of the exam. You can find sample essay questions and model answers on the California State Bar website. Pro tip: there is a 99% chance that PR is going to be tested so it's wise to study and take a look at most, if not all, past PR exams that were administered. Scoring high enough on PR will offset other lower scoring essays.

  4. Use IRAC/CREAC method: IRAC is an acronym for Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. CREAC is an acronym for Conclusion, Rule, Explanation, Application, Conclusion. Using this method can help you organize your thoughts and present a clear and logical analysis of the legal issues in the essay question.

  5. Time management: The essay portion of the California bar exam is timed, so it is essential that you manage your time effectively. Make sure to read through all of the essay questions before you begin writing, and plan out how much time you will spend on each portion of the essay. We recommend not spending more than one allotted hour per essay subject. You should have a pre-planned approach for each essay. Here is what you should be thinking about: how much time do I spend outlining? How much time should I spend writing? How many times should I read the fact pattern? The more practice essay exams you do, the better prepared you will be on exam day!

  6. Proofreading: Always proofreading your essay before submitting, it could be a game changer in terms of points. Make sure to take the time to proofread your essays and correct any errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling (if you have the time)!

  7. Get feedback: If possible, have a mentor, attorney, professor or someone who has taken the bar exam before to review your essays. Getting feedback on your writing can help you improve your skills and identify areas where you need to focus your study efforts.

These tips should help you to prepare effectively for the essay portion of the California bar exam. Remember to study the relevant law, practice writing essays, use the IRAC/CREAC method, manage your time well, proofread your work and get feedback from an expert.


Understanding the Internal Scoring System: A breakdown of how essays are graded on the California Bar Exam:


See below for a guide to the components and percentage weight assigned for each component on the California Bar Exam. You will be graded on the following components: Organization/format; issue spotting; rule statements; analysis; and conclusion.


Analysis: 40%

Issue Spotting: 25%

Rule Statements: 20%

Organization/format: 10%

Conclusion: 5%



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