How to Pass the Bar Exam: 3 Tips

Published: 13th October 2010
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Taking the bar exam can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be! The following tips will help you pass the bar exam.

1. Practice Spotting Legal Issues. There are generally four parts to a law exam: issue, rule, analysis/application, and conclusion (IRAC). Learning to spot legal issues is probably the most important thing you can do. After all, if you don't know the issues, you won't be able to write the rules, the analysis, or the conclusion!

How do you learn to spot legal issues? You know those bizarre fact patterns (hypos) that you read in law school? Well, reading those over and over again will help you spot legal issues! In fact, the more hypos you read, the better you'll become at spotting legal issues, and when you only have an hour or less to write an essay, you have to be able to spot the issues fast!

Remember, you'll earn points for every issue that you spot. To practice spotting legal issues, read fact patterns (hypos) and guess the potential issues. Do this repeatedly until you're able to spot issues quickly.

2. Memorize the Rules. You've spotted the issues, now you need to state the rules/black letter law. You only have an hour or less to write each essay, so there's no time to waste. Like issue spotting, you'll earn points for stating the rules, so you want to state as many rules as possible. This is where memorizing the rules comes in!

To pass the bar exam, you have to state the rules fast, and in order to do that, you absolutely need to have the rules memorized before you walk into the exam room! Study the rules consistently for at least three months and start memorizing the rules about two weeks before the exam.

3. Take Practice Exams. You spotted the issues and stated the rules, now you need to write a legal analysis and conclusion. The conclusion will be a piece of cake, but the analysis is a little more complicated. The legal analysis is the why section of your essay, in other words, why will D (the defendant) be held liable for assault?

The best way to learn how to write a good analysis is to take practice exams. Taking practice exams will not only help you write a good essay, but will give you an idea of the type of questions you might encounter on the bar exam. Check your state bar association for past exams.

Alison is a former law student who passed the California Bar Exam. Alison writes for Kislaw 24, where law students can ask questions and get answers about law school, law school exams and the bar exam 24/7. For more information about Kislaw 24 and Kislaw Law Guides, visit

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