The Almost Daily Word – Why Gamble on Essay Questions: Letting Essay Call Structures Organize Your Answers – Part 3

“The smarter you play, the luckier you’ll be.” Mark Pilarski – Gambling Expert

“You can know the rules of law. You can know IRAC. You can know how to write. But if you don’t know the Bar Exam itself, you’re “’playing stupid.’” Adam Ferber – Bar Exam Blogger

Each year, there are six essay questions on each of two bar exam administrations – 12 altogether. That’s 60 essays in the last five years, 120 in the last ten years. This might lead you to conclude, even after your bar preparation, that there is endless variety in essay questions. It might lead you to think that your best bet is just opening the exam booklet and reacting to what you see. It might, but if it did, you wouldn’t be playing smart – you’d just be gambling.

Although California Bar Examination Essay Question calls (the tasks assigned to the applicant in each question) vary slightly, in general, there are four call structures that commonly appear. An applicant who has become familiar with each such call structure and has developed appropriate strategies to respond to them will have an advantage on the essay portion of the Exam.

The second such call, I call “the Evidence Call.”

(a) Description-The Evidence Call is a variation of the Multiple-Call Call, adapted to an Evidence question or the Evidence portion of a cross-over question. It consists of two or more sub-calls, each of which may have additional sub-sub-calls. Each sub-call references testimony or evidence that each of the party’s in a contested action wishes to introduce into evidence.

(b) Example

“Assuming all appropriate objections and motions were timely made, did the court properly:

1. Allow the prosecution to call Whitney? Discuss

2. Admit the testimony of:

(a) Whitney? Discuss.

(b) Ella? Discuss.

(c) Fred? Discuss.

Answer according to California law.”

(c) Handling the Evidence Call

The Evidence Call has a slightly different format from the Multiple-Call Call but requires the same recognition of the relationship that the weights of the sub-calls have to the applicant’s apportioning of time and words. One or more of the sub-calls may call for a two-tiered analysis; for example, the admissibility of testimony based on a discussion of the hearsay rule and all relevant exceptions. The applicability or inapplicability of the rule and each exception is the first tier. Organization, analysis and discussion of all the relevant rules and exceptions is then necessary to answer the call; e.g., should the testimony of Officer be admitted?

(d) Samples of Evidence Call Questions at the Office of Admissions “Past Examinations Site”

– July 2012: Essay Question 6

– February 2012: Question 3

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