I get a lot of e-mails from law students prepping for, or wondering why they failed, the bar exam. Bar prep isn’t exactly a service I advertise, but I’m always happy to see law students thrive, so if you ask nicely I’ll spend a few minutes looking at your essays and score report and give you some thoughts.
One issue that many students might not be aware of is that a fairly solid ability to type is required if you want to pass the bar exam. You have about 40 minutes to type each essay response. The average “selected answer” published by the California bar (sample high-scoring essay response) is 1,600 – 2,000 words. That means if you are able to type non-stop at fewer than 40 words per minute, you are unable to produce a high-scoring response even if you are a bad-ass with legal rules and essay composition skills.
Take a typing test. If you’re scoring anything less than 75 WPM, you could use some practice. If you’re scoring less than 50 WPM, you would be foolish to attempt the bar exam without practice. There are tons of free or low-cost typing tutor apps that you can find with your favorite search engine, and 20 minutes a day for a few months will absolutely boost your score. Another reality check is if you’re practicing by taking previous exam questions in a timed setting and your responses are under 1,200 words, your essays aren’t long enough and if you feel like your fingers were moving the whole time, your typing may be the problem. (And, if you’re not taking previous exam questions in a timed setting in preparation for the Bar, just send me your $800 exam fee and I’ll tell you you’ve failed right away so you don’t even have to sit for the exam!)
Whether you’re just starting law school or you’re a practicing attorney, this is a skill you need ASAP.
Jonathan, It’s good to read your posts.
This make absolute good common sense; perhaps an easy and quick fix and a 100% must do Tom pass the bar exam. It won’t matter if you type or write the exam, you won’t pass if you don’t provide a well written exam with enough words to explain your application of the facts to the law.
For the love of god please don’t handwrite the exam unless you can write substantially more words per minute than you can type, and you have pleasant handwriting that won’t make the grader think, “I don’t want to read this, I’ll just give it a 55 and move on!” 🙂
Andrew Branca and Nick Rekieta started discussing bar exams about 8 minutes ago at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp1NMfptdGs I may update with a timestamp link after they go off live, it’ll be about 2h52m