atticus89 wrote:Looking for some guidance with limited time remaining. I may get flamed for this post, but I've had trouble dealing with anxiety regarding this test and I was wondering if anyone could reason with me.
So, I haven't had a chance to write a bunch of essays out fully. I've written probably 1-2 for each subject, so probably around 20 total. I've tried to outline an additional 2 essays per subject. Based on the data I've seen that most essay issues repeat from previous exams my essay study has been mostly: skimming outlines, setting general essay structure guides for each subject, and memorizing every rule that appears in the Barbri essays. So, for example, Barbri gives 8 old essays per subject and I made notecards for each rule that appeared and memorized those (there is a lot of repeat stuff and some essays have few rules).
I'm a pretty good writer. I graduated from a top school in the top 5% of my class. I feel like I have a pretty good idea of how to write a law school exam, but I'm growing a little concerned that my style is too verbose for the bar. Since I've memorized a good chunk of rules I tend to hit the major issues and I don't usually run out of time (though I do go right up to the limit in most cases). My essays average about 1900-2200 words depending on the source material and the subject. I tend to go pretty heavy on analysis, though I've practiced somewhat cutting this down on clear issues and instead hitting more issues.
I might be overreacting or unnecessarily freaking out here, but I know that people who graduate at the top of their class fail all the time, especially in CA. By the time studying is over I will have completed probably 85% of my Barbri PSP, but I've also done some extra stuff (completed most of the Qs in Emanuels, did the full day and half day MBEs that are not covered in the PSP). I'm not that worried about the MBE. However, when I started the prep, I was thinking that my MBE and PTs would carry me, but now I'm not sold on that in CA. My MBEs are above average, but I'm definitely not expecting to walk in there and hit an 80+% or some absurd number, especially given the relative uncertainty surrounding Civ Pro. I've written out probably 4 full PTs, but I am by no means confident I'll pull a 65 on both for sure come test day.
On the one hand I feel really dumb for the anxiety because I'm not sure how much more I could have prepared. The biggest factor right now is I have just not been able to get a read for how the CA essays will be graded. Despite what I thought was pretty good writing ability, my Barbri feedback was largely unhelpful (I got 2 65s, 1 60, but all of these were submitted well before I started to focus in on the essays the last 2-3 weeks, and none had helpful substantive feedback -- a Ks essay I turned in was 2200 words, hit every issue except 1 minor quasi-K issue, and got a 65). I split a Baressays account with a friend and I honestly for the life of me can't figure it out. Sometimes I will read answers that miss several major issues, are disorganized, but the right rules are somewhere in there and they'll hit 65s. Then I'll go over 55s for the same essay and the quality is not that different at all. And yet other times I'll see answers that I think are solid -- adequate but not mind blowing -- and they somehow hit 75-80.
Could really use a pep talk if anyone has helpful words to offer. Don't mean to come off as whiny or anything, just seriously having anxiety about all this.
I don't know man. Seems like you're on your way. Your MBE is above average, which is good. You've done 4 PTs, which is also good (as long as your feel comfortable with it). It looks like your concern is that you're not sure what gets you a 65 on essays.
I've never been a grader, but it seems arbitrary to an extent. Accept it.
However, I've noticed that the good essay scores tend to have CLARITY in their answers. That means not making the grader do the work of figuring out what you're saying. This includes:
- clear issue headers (street signs that let them know where you're going) -- bold and/or underline
- clean rule statements (try not to BS too much)
- separated rule and application (don't commingle R and A like a trustee breaching her duties)
- clean conclusion ("Thus, CONCLUSION because SUMMARY OF ANALYSIS.") -- 1-2 sentences
- separated IRACs (e.g., by using clear issue headers)
Good to be humble during preparation. Be arrogant during test day. This is your twice-a-year opportunity to show your stuff. Yes, as a secondary measure, you should make up law and over-include issues.
However, aim to hit as many RELEVANT issues and sub-issues as you can. You can't get to top 5% without doing this, right? Let me know actually because I don't know. You can fudge a couple of rules and applications and get partial credit, but you will get zero credit for an issue you should have sprouted into an IRAC. On the flip side, if you throw in the kitchen sink, you will run counter to what they are looking for per the essay instructions (see the first page of the booklet).
Remember that these graders are people who are incentivized to evaluate your answer in as short a time as possible, being paid $3.25 per booklet (and only $3.75 for PTs!). These people will have seen dozens if not hundreds of similar answers before yours. These people are bored out of their unemployed mind and hate the world and will read your answer while taking a shit or waiting for the red light. These are dangerous people.
Be as gentle on their eyes as possible. Frontload the work for them by doing the above. Make them feel like the $3.25 was a steal, and they just might round up your score...