A Foolproof Strategy for Acing the Bar Exam Performance Test


Welcome to the final part of our comprehensive guide to conquering the bar exam. In this segment, we will delve into the Performance Test (PT). In the previous sections, we covered essay writing and the Multistate Bar Exam. Although the Multistate Performance Test is widely used, it’s important to note that the California General Bar Exam has its own unique performance test format.

Understanding the Performance Test

The Performance Test is a hands-on assessment that appears in various forms across most bar exams. This test evaluates your ability to review a case file and draft a written document accordingly. While all the necessary instructions, laws, and information are provided in the PT packet at the test site, you are expected to apply your legal knowledge. Currently, you have three hours to complete the PT in California. However, this will change when California implements a two-day bar exam, reducing the PT time limit to 90 minutes.

Effective Time Management

Efficient time management is a crucial strategy for success in the PT. It is recommended to allocate the first ninety minutes towards reading and organizing your answer, devoting the remaining time to writing your response.

Paying Attention to Detail

A significant portion of the PT revolves around following instructions meticulously. Make sure to thoroughly read the instruction sheet and take note of any document sections that should be excluded. This test primarily assesses your attention to detail above all else.

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Practical Preparation

To excel in the PT, the best approach is to practice writing diverse legal documents such as memoranda, legal briefs, letters, transactional documents, and closing arguments. The more you engage in these exercises, whether in a classroom setting or while working for an attorney, the easier it becomes to complete the PT and achieve a satisfactory score. St. Francis School of Law incorporates a range of practical writing and drafting exercises into their curriculum, enhancing your legal analysis skills and preparing you for the PT.

Leveraging Legal Experience

Ideally, your law school experience has already exposed you to writing transactional and litigation-related documents, which can significantly assist you in the PT. Gaining real-world legal experience also makes this portion of the exam much more manageable. If you’re wondering how to obtain such experience, consider reaching out to lawyers for opportunities to assist with research projects and prepare transactional documents.

Utilizing Past Performance Tests

The California State Bar’s website offers access to previous PTs and sample student-written answers. Analyzing these resources allows you to familiarize yourself with the general structure and format of letters, memoranda, and other documents, regardless of the subject matter. The objective is to practice writing after reviewing several legal cases, statutes, and case files.

Emphasizing Substance over Perfection

It’s important to remember that PT graders do not expect perfection, given the time constraints. If you have a spare moment at the end, take the time to proofread your work. If not, don’t stress over it.

The Key to Success

Remember, the PT is an exam where the examiners provide all the necessary information. The only thing you need to bring to the test is your knowledge of how basic legal documents are structured. With consistent practice in writing fundamental legal litigation and transactional documents, I am confident that you will excel in the PT. After all, once you have the format down, you are simply filling in the blanks with the information provided by the bar examiners.

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Additional Support

St. Francis School of Law offers a bar review course that provides comprehensive instruction on all aspects of the bar exam, including the PT. Additionally, the course includes simulated PTs with invaluable feedback to help you hone your skills.

For more information and resources to help you succeed in the bar exam, visit Garrity Traina.