Bar Exam Essays Part 4: Outline My Bar Exam Answer?

by Dustin on

Failing to plan is planning to fail.  For the written portions of the bar exam, that simply means outlining your answer will play a big part in helping you pass your essays.

Bar examiners love organized answers.  In fact, if you read the California bar performance test instructions on page 4, Item #8, they are very explicit that organization is part of your grade!  That should be no surprise.  Lawyers are supposed to be organized and that should be reflected in our writing. 

During a bar prep class in my law school, we had an attorney who was 50-0 in successfully tutoring repeat bar examiners.  He stated he had never seen a student fail, who had actually spent time outlining his bar exam essays (out of the 50 that came to him for help).

That’s the power of outlining.

It is recommended by him and bar prep programs to spend anywhere between 15 – 20 minutes outlining.  For me, when I was on fire and knew all the issues in an essay, it would take me about 20 minutes to make a good outline.  Sometimes, I didn’t know the issues; therefore, I only spent 10 minutes outlining.

Why you might not outline?

Some people won’t take the time to make a good outline because they freak out.  They have to get whatever is in their head onto their exam answer.  In the bar, you might be sitting next to one of these or be one yourself.  If you’re next to one, don’t let their early start freak you out into starting to write too early.  Stay disciplined and make your outline.

Some people may have never outlined in law school.  I’ll admit, I wasn’t a big outline guy myself.  I thought it took too much time, and I felt by putting my thoughts on paper, I would do better.  Well, I also didn’t realize how much of my grade was based on how well my thoughts were organized (and it showed in my grades).  So, outlining was a new skill I had to take on during bar exam prep time.

An outline is simple to make and worth the time.  If you want to find out how, click here.

Good luck on your bar exam prep!

“This name appears on the pass list”

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