Off Topic for most - Critical for Some: The Bar Exam

Bumped. Good luck to all BNers, Bruins next week. GO BRUINS. - N

Norcal mentioned that the Bar Exam is coming up soon.  Normal people can just skip the rest of this.  To you brothers and sisters who are going to take it, let me give my annual couple of do's and don'ts.

Do type the exam.  I do know how many people hand-write them nowadays, but in my time (circa 1974) there were relatively few typists.  I think a typed paper is easier to read and consequently more "likeable."  There are stats which showed (again circa 1974) that typed exams got an average grade three points higher than hand-written exams.

Do spend time outlining the answer.    The bar review guys said in my day that of the 52.5 minutes available for each question, you should spend 30 organizing and outlining your answer.  It's hard to resist jumping right in and pounding the keyboard, but don't do it.  An organized answer will come across better.  I was told  by a guy who graded the exams that they are looking to pass people, and the more organized the answer, the more likely he was to set your answer in the "passed" stack.

Do take pains to write clearly.  All the stuff you learned in school about writing means something.  Remember the IRAC method.  Use it.  Remember that short sentences are better than long sentences.  Keep the sentence structure simple.  Don't start a sentence with the word "because."  Don't use passive voice.  Use vivid verbs.

Don't be timid about citing cases.  If you can cite a case, do so.  If you remember a quote, quote it.  (I still remember this one from Palsgraf (or at least I think it was Palsgraf) - "The harm that occurred is the very harm, the risk of which is what made the conduct unreasonable."  If you know a particular case stands for a particular point but have blanked on the name, describe it.  Maybe the reader will have the same sort of memory you do and you'll connect.  But you're at least conveying the notion that you know there's a case on point that proves your point.

Don't forget to sleep.  It's highly unlikely that you'll discover the magic pill that will reveal all the answers at 3:00 a.m. the night before the test.  It's more likely that you'll get so mentally and physically tired that you'll be adversely affected come game time. 

Don't panic.  Be relaxed.  Be smooth, like Joe DiMaggio rather than frenetic, Willie Mays.  If you don't have a clue about what you're looking at, start with the basics that you learned in the bar review courses.  If the question says to assume the California Probate Code applies, then it's a Wills question.  If the word "Blackacre" is in it, it's pretty likely to be real property. 

Do be confident.  Believe me when I tell you that there are some very stupid lawyers out there, and they all have one thing in common.  Despite their incredible stupidity, they passed the bar.  Have faith in yourselves and your education and your basic smarts.  You can do this.  You've been a success at all your academic efforts.  You got into UCLA.  You scored high enough on the LSAT.  You got admitted to law school.  You graduated from law school.  There will be people in that room who can't say all those things.  There will be people in that room who have taken the test many times and are never going to pass it.  You and the other smart, successful peole are not your competition - they are.  And you can write a better exam than they can.  How do I know this?  All the stats in the world say so. 

I'm sure other folks who have gone through it will have other thoughts for you.  Good luck, brothers and sisters.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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