The Florida portion is on Day 1 of the exam and consists of three essays in the morning in which you have a total of three hours to complete. The essays can be selected from approximately 19 subjects and each essay will include no more than three subjects. The essays will test general principles of law as well as Florida distinctions or Florida specific laws.
Typically an essay will have an overall primary subject. However, secondary or tertiary subjects can also appear throughout the essay. Therefore, theoretically, you have to be prepared to competently and accurately write on at least 3 primary subjects and up to six secondary subjects for the Florida essay portion of the bar exam!
This sounds impossible! What can I do?
Here are the top five ways to prepare yourself for success on the Florida essay portion of the exam:
- Make a calendar /schedule of essays for yourself
- Try to write one essay per day
- Practice the highly tested essays
- Use IRAC
- Focus on the “must-haves”
Make a Calendar / Schedule of Essays for Yourself
It is easy to go online and make yourself a schedule. For instance you can try Calendar Labs.
Map out how many days you have left until the bar exam. Decide how many essays you want to write per week. For instance, three days a week? Five days a week? Try to write for each subject at least once. Initially you can take about an hour and 15 or 30 minutes to write each essay and the closer you get to the bar exam, you want to stick with the one hour for each essay.
Need help with this? Don’t really know where to even begin? We can help you with a personal approach to essay writing and a customized essay schedule that will fit specifically YOUR needs.
Try to write one essay per day during the weekdays
Finished with final exams? Graduation over and commercial prep hasn’t begun yet? Got extra time? Then start training yourself to write one essay per day during Monday through Friday. Get up in the morning, write an essay and review it before you start your day. Make it a great habit that you will never regret!
If you do this right after you are finished with your semester, you could potentially write up to 50 or 60 essays by the time the bar exam date comes around! Even if you just wrote three essays per week, you still would complete approximately 35 essays before the bar exam. Nothing to shy away from!
Practice the Highly Tested Essays
As you know, the essays can be from approximately 19 subjects and each essay will include no more than three subjects. When selecting your essays you may want to be sure to include writing essays on highly tested subjects.
Subjects that have been frequently tested include (*not including the new subjects added in 2013):
- Family law
- Florida Constitution Law
- Real Property
However, that does not mean you simply ignore the other subjects. When creating your calendar, take everything into account and be sure to include all subjects at some point; with a special emphasis on the frequently tested subjects.
IRAC stands for Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. When writing bar essays, focus on the IRAC format. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners even indicate that you may want to write in IRAC format given their essay examination instructions in their study guide.
In the study guide, published every year, it outlines what an acceptable essay answer should include and indicates the following:
- Analysis of the problem
- Knowledge of the law
- Application and reasoning
If you write in IRAC format, you set yourself up for success and will write an acceptable essay answer scoring as many points as possible.
Focus on the “Must-Haves”
The bar examiners grade essays in a “positive” manner, so to speak. An essay grader will grant points for all the issues, analysis, knowledge of law, etc., that you spot or write about in each essay. The grader does not “deduct” points. Therefore, in essence, I like to think that the grader is “looking” for points to just give away!
So how do you use that to your advantage?
Focus on the must-haves in each essay. The examiners grade on a curve, so you have a very good idea of what a “must-have” looks like. What is everyone else in that room with you likely to write about?
Is it a contracts essay? What is the first thing that comes to mind in a contracts essay? Formation, right? Do the facts of the essay and call of the question lead you to discuss formation? If so, then you better do it!
What about a torts essay? Negligence should come to mind. Of course, not all torts essays include negligence, but you get the picture!
Focus on the big-ticket items and not the small, obscure rule of law that you just know is going to score you those 10 points! Unfortunately, you would likely be wrong — since the exam is graded on a curve, knowing obscure, “random” exception-to-the-exception rules of law will likely not gain you the big points that you desire.
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Looking for sample bar exam essay questions and answers to help with your bar exam essay practice?
Below are links to various jurisdictions that post sample questions and answers.
Remember, if you run out of sample questions from your own jurisdiction, try to find another jurisdiction that uses a similar essay format and try to find overlapping subjects. This can be especially helpful if you are in one of the jurisdictions that uses the MEE.
If you would like more help with writing bar exam essays, be sure to get my book, How to Write Bar Exam Essays: Strategies and Tactics to Help You Pass the Bar Exam, available on Amazon, BN, Audible and iTunes.