Interview with Bar Exam Readers
A bar exam reader determines a grade by comparing the essay answer to a consensus analysis of that particular answer. The consensus analysis is similar to a committee's answer key and contains the issues and their point values, and is achieved after an exhaustive review of possible analyses of each question by the author, readers, and reappraisers.
Although they have individual preferences, when a number of readers were interviewed, their responses to basic essay flaws were relatively uniform. To maximize the chance of success:
Each Applicant Should Know the Following Hot Spots
Non-issues waste a reader's time and implies that
the applicant does not really understand the question
Studies show that outlining
saves time and increases a score
- Arrive at a conclusion. A ping pong discussion of each side without arriving; at a conclusion is a poor analysis. Virtually every issue should be reasoned to a conclusion.
Make the bar reader's job easier
- Map out your thoughts. Many applicants start discussions, jump to other issues, and then return to their prior discussions or complete their thoughts pages later . . . So make the reader's job easier. Lack of organization supports a suspicion that logical thinking may be missing. That is not a good impression to give the reader.
- Look for the subtle issues. Every essay has some primary issues and some secondary, more subtle, issues. Everyone knows they have to hit the main issues to pass, but if you miss a couple of the subtle issues your essay grade will be significantly diminished.
Short complete essays typically receive the highest grades
By: Edward C. Stark, former law professor and member of the Committee of Bar Examiners
CALIFORNIA LAWYER - FEBRUARY 23, 2001