Raw score, scaled score, what does it all mean? It means get all the points you can.
Both the written and MBE part of the bar exam are scaled which means your score may be subject to an adjustment in order to standardize the results of the exam. The scaling method is somewhat complicated and also dependent on your fellow bar takers. On the MBE some questions are weighted differently and that may depend on how many applicants answered correctly. A question that 98% of applicants answer correctly may be given less weight than a question that only 40% answered correctly.
So don’t spend a lot of time trying to game the scaling, just think of yourself as a game show contestant trying to grab as many prizes as you can in the time allowed.
On the written portion of the exam, there are some easy techniques to pick up points that you may accidentally be leaving behind.
Make sure you answer the call of the questions.
If there are multiple parts of the question, then answer them all. If a question asks for causes of actions and defenses, then make sure to cover defenses. If a question asks for the likelihood of success then make a statement as to the likelihood. Answer the question even if the answer is “maybe.”
If a question asks for a discussion about various people or properties, make sure to discuss each and every part of the question, even if you think that there isn’t much to say on a particular point. Resist the temptation to skip a section that seems unimportant. Clearly state your thoughts briefly and then move on. For example, a question might ask for causes of action against three defendants and possible defenses. The bulk of the question focuses on Defendant #1 and #3. But don’t skip Defendant #2 and if there are no causes of action and/or viable defenses for that defendant, make sure to point it out. There are points there, make sure to pick them up.
DON’T discuss causes of action or parties that are not called for in the question. You don’t have time and they aren’t worth any points no matter how interesting or brilliant your insights may be.
The Bar exam is not the place to demonstrate your superior creative writing abilities. Leave your ego at the door and stick to a simple IRAC approach. Remember your audience. Your audience is the person grading your exam.
Using a heading let’s the grader know that you have spotted an issue, already getting you some points. This will also help keep you on track. If you have typed for more than a page under one heading, it’s probably time to move on. You have either spent too much time on one issue or you haven’t broken out the sub-issues.
Write a conclusion without being conclusory.
Don’t forget to clearly state your conclusion at the end of each section so that the grader has easy access to the destination of your analysis. You may think that your discussion speaks for itself and you don’t want to be repetitive. A one sentence conclusion can wrap it up and demonstrate that you understand the issue, even if you don’t have a rock solid outcome. Try something like; “In conclusion, after considering all the factors discussed above, the Court may grant injunctive relief.” This shows that you understand the law and have drawn a conclusion. That is worth points and those are points that the grader wants to give to you, let them.
If you run out of time, use an outline format to cover what you can. Listing an issue with a short rule in incomplete sentences will be given points. Don’t worry about being perfect as the clock ticks down, just get down your knowledge on the paper. You can’t get points without demonstrating your understanding and sometime you can get the majority of points by using a quick outline format.
DON’T stop suddenly. An incomplete essay that ends mid-sentence without finishing certain sections and leaving issues unaddressed, is a red flag for the grader that you are not in control of your time or this essay subject.
Clean up oversights or mistakes quickly.
If you have missed a section or gotten disorganized in your essay, just add a clean up section with a clear heading. Points are not deducted for the order in which subjects are discussed. If the call of the question asked for defenses and you realize that you have skipped the defenses for each cause of action, then add a section and label it “defenses to all causes of action.” This may not be the most elegant organization but it immediately lets the grader know that you didn’t forget the discussion of defenses and you just got points.
DON’T start going back through your essay and trying to add to each section, this will take up twice as much time for the same amount of points.
Writing high scoring essays for the bar exam is a game of skill that anyone can master. Follow the rules and make it easy for the grader to give you that score that you deserve!
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Don’t Do This on Your Bar Exam Essays
- Why Really Wanting to Pass the Bar Exam Isn’t Enough
- What You Can Do Now to Prepare for the Bar Exam
- Train Like an Athlete for the Bar Exam
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