Part of any quality bar review program is getting feedback on essays. Some bar review programs give feedback on a few essays and some provide unlimited feedback. Feedback is great because it can indicate where you are going wrong and validate what you are doing right. Feedback is a huge part of the work I do with my private bar students. But sometimes for bar studiers feedback becomes less about the feedback and more about the score on the practice exam. And bad scores can send you down an anxiety spiral, which is counterproductive and only feeds the fear surrounding this test. So, what do you do?
Get feedback, but ignore the scores.
Well, okay, perhaps don’t “ignore” the scores, but don’t give them too much weight. Sure, it is important to know if you are “passing” or “failing.” But to me, it is more important that you look at the details of the feedback. Let’s say you submit two essays for feedback and you barely pass one and fail the other. To be honest though, I don’t think the scores mean all that much. Good to know one was better than the other, but it is more important to know why.
Review the feedback on the two essays. Did you do something different on the passing one compared with the failing one? Did you know the law better, manage your time better, or write in a clearer IRAC form (or whatever form is required for your exam)? What about the constructive feedback? Are you still struggling with analysis? Missing some issues? Running out of time?
Feedback is more important than scores. It tells you what you are doing right and what you still need to work on.
Once you have looked at your feedback (and ignored the scores) then you can try to alter your essays and write them in the “bar exam way.” That is only a good thing. I bet even the “passing” essay could have been better. Now that you know the good and the not so good, it is time to rewrite the essays using the feedback to make them better.
Rewriting essay answers is an excellent way to utilize feedback to make your writing stronger, review the law (yet again), and really focus on your essay writing skills.
I don’t know any student (including myself when I was a law student and bar studier) who likes rewriting an essay. But the longer I work with law students and bar studiers, the more I recognize it is a critical exercise and one that is often overlooked. Feedback shows you what you need to do differently and rewriting gives you the opportunity to put that into practice. Athletes do this all the time, right? They get feedback from their coaches and then they do it again. The bar exam is no different.
So toss scores to the side for now and focus on feedback and rewriting.
The bar exam is a process. You are going to have ups and downs and bad essays and good essays. If you find yourself becoming obsessed with your practice scores, take a step back and remember what is really important about feedback. Feedback is a study tool so you can get better. In my opinion, the only truly bad essay is one that isn’t learned from and rewritten.
Have you found rewriting bar answers to be a helpful study tool?
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And check out these helpful posts:
- The Performance Test: Why You Should be Studying Now
- The Key to the Performance Test: Find Your Approach
- Are You Evaluating Your Work? You Should Be
- You Should Spend Time Studying Sample Answers