The performance exam is my favorite part of the exam—because for success you don’t need to have any law memorized. I know; it’s fantastic, isn’t it? But many people still hate and fear the performance test. If the performance test is one of the reasons you struggled with the bar exam, here are three things you can do to raise those scores.
And, remember, you can actually start studying for the performance test early, because it doesn’t have a memorization component to it. This can be critical, especially for those bar studiers who are working while studying. Practicing the performance test is something that can be done outside the typical bar prep window. This can save valuable time for those working bar studiers who can take care of it early on and leave the later preparation for the MBE and essay portions.
1. Develop a Performance Test Approach
The first time I sit down with students to talk about the performance test, I ask how they approach the packet. Some students have a plan all set out. But some don’t. Some change it up each time they do a performance test (bad idea). Some take notes on the packet and don’t make any sort of outline (also a bad idea). As with the essays, it is important to have an established approach and know how to attack each exam. Such consistency helps you stay organized, focused, and not waste time due to lack of organization.
Is there one right approach for the performance test? Well, it depends on the individual. Many people work on the performance test a little differently based on their own strengths and weaknesses. If your past approach hasn’t worked for you, then learn a new one. Hire a tutor or read some good books. Try something different to find the best fit for you.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice is incredibly important with the performance test, just as with the essays and MBEs. Many students hate setting aside time to work on the performance test, as it can be very time-consuming (the California performance test takes 3 hours while a Multistate Performance Test takes 90 minutes). But it is still worth it, because the performance test is an important part of your exam and doing well on it can really boost your scores.
One word of caution: Set aside uninterrupted time to work on the performance test. Breaking up the work into two periods of time, for example, can really set you up for confusion and frustration when working on this test. So only do a practice run when you have time. My favorite time to do a performance test is on a weekend morning. Then I can just get it out of the way and go about the rest of the day.
3. Self-Evaluate Your Work and/or Get Feedback
Taking the performance exam is not enough. You must compare your answers with the sample answers and evaluate your work. Did you struggle with organization? Arguing the facts? Writing in a persuasive tone? You have to identify the good and the bad so you can focus on how to do better. If you aren’t sure how to evaluate your own work, you may want to look into hiring a tutor to help you determine whether you are on the right track. Or if you are working with a commercial bar review course, be sure to take advantage of any graded test assignments offered. Once you determine what went wrong (or what went right), you can decide whether it is worthwhile to re-write any of the performance test as a learning exercise. Re-writing is no fun, but it is incredibly effective.
Have any performance test tips to share? If so, let us know in the comments.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- The Performance Test: Why You Should be Studying Now
- The Key to the Performance Test: Find Your Approach
- Can Paper Clips Help You Pass the Performance Test?
- Are You Evaluating Your Work? You Should Be!
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