Bar Exam Tip #2

30 Jan

When you get to the Multiple Choice Questions, always follow this method:

  1. Read the Answers first and mark off those you know are legally incorrect or that don’t make sense.

  2. Read the Question second and mark off any more wrong answers you notice here (i.e. answers that are true facts but that don’t actually answer the question).

  3. Finally read the Facts.  

Why do this?

Historically, this is the easiest, fastest, and most accurate way to solve any Multiple Choice question. I recomend it to students taking the LSAT, TESOL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT and other exams as well.

There are many reasons for doing the first step at the beginning.

  1. You avoid some of the test traps. Test questions often play mind games. For example: they give you opposite answers, they alter the time limits for a statute of limitations, they add an exception, they change one word. And the facts will point to the wrong conclusion. Don’t let them get to you; You’ve studied the law. Just go with what you remember from your studies and take out any answers you know are legally incorrect before letting the facts distract you.
  2. You avoid the dreaded moment where you think you have the answer and then it isn’t on the list. Your mind blocks up, you can’t get that first solution out of your head, and you bomb it. Know the possibilities, the real possibilities, and read the question to figure out which one fits.
  3. You can now easily ignore any irrelevant facts or details (also a reason for doing steps three and four next) in the fact pattern itself and move more quickly to the relevant information.  These questions often through in irrelevant information and ask you to sort through it to figure out what was important. Knowing the answers helps you move through the question quickly. If all the answers are about whether or not the person is guilty because the crime was in private property, you know to ignore the fact that the suspect gave different answers about their age.  

The second step mainly keeps you from falling into the mistake of getting lost in the facts and failing to answer the right question. Fact Patterns can actually depict a couple of legal issues, while only one is relevant for the question. Nonetheless, one of the answers will solve or be related to that irrelevant legal problem trying to trick you. Often, that “correct but wrong” answer is higher than the right one on the list because we will instinctively go with the first “correct” answer we see. But that is not our job on the test. We are not required to solve all the legal errors, we are asked to answer the question given.  So to avoid falling for the red herring (correct, but not the right response, answers), do step two to erase all possible distractors that fail to solve the question.

I’d say for about 1/4-1/3 of the test, these first two steps will actually lead you to only one remaining answer. 

For the rest of the test, you’ll need to pick between 2 (sometiems 3 on a tough question) remaining solutions.  But at least you have narrowed your options down and the odds are better!


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