By Steve Levin, BARBRI Sr. Director of Essay Testing
My colleagues and I hear this question frequently… and the short, sweet answer is that the number of graded essays included in your BARBRI course depends on the BARBRI bar prep option you select. There are several that include an unlimited number of graded essays.
But, don’t get too caught up in the specific number of graded essays
Before we get too caught up in numbers, let’s first talk overall bar exam essay writing strategy. As you likely know, the written portion is critical to your overall bar exam score in every state and, in some states, is weighted even more heavily than the MBE. Get the details for your state in the BARBRI Bar Exam Digest.
What you might not know is that writing essays for the bar exam is very different from writing essays for law school. For example, in most states, there’s actually a “right” answer. That’s not true in many law school essays. Therefore, you must acquire and strengthen your bar exam essay skills during bar prep. Your goal is to learn to write the best essays possible, as quickly as possible, to perform well under the timed conditions of the exam.
Build good bar exam writing habits
In our experience, we’ve seen that submitting practice essay after essay before receiving and digesting feedback actually reinforces bad habits and wastes time. For this reason, an unguided and purely “unlimited” essay grading system can actually stunt your progress. This is why BARBRI uses a Directed Essay Grading strategy.
BARBRI Directed Essay Grading starts online with Essay Architect. You’ll first learn to efficiently read bar exam essay questions and construct quality answers … and you’ll receive immediate feedback.
After working with Essay Architect online, you’ll put “pen to paper” and write answers to assigned practice essays. Some of these assignments require self-analysis by comparing your answers to model answers or score sheets. We see a very strong correlation between bar passage and the practice of writing your essay answer and comparing your answer to a provided model answer. It’s a very active process and one of the activities that matters most in passing the bar.
You’ll also submit several essays for personalized feedback from trained bar exam writing experts.
Don’t wait to submit essays for grading
When I ask students who didn’t pass the bar on their first try whether they submitted practice essays for grading during bar prep, usually the answer is “not many” or “no.” When I ask them why they didn’t take advantage of this powerful bar prep tool, many told me they felt they didn’t know the law well enough to write an essay for submission.
Don’t hold back on submitting essays. Practice essays are a great way to learn how to write better essays AND continue to learn the law. Don’t cheat yourself out of one of your best learning opportunities because you don’t feel ready.
BARBRI trained bar exam writing experts can help you learn the substance you need as well as refine your essay writing skills. The individual feedback will help you understand where you will capture points, where you may lose points and how to frame a better essay answer.
Submitting essays as they are assigned during bar review, over time, will allow you to incorporate feedback into your next practice essay. You’ll move along an upward trajectory of continuous improvement and bar exam readiness.
Want more bar exam study tips? Get them here.