How to Prep For an Evidence Essay
“If you don’t practice the Evidence Boilerplate, you are EMBRACING FAILURE!”
Both law school and the California Bar Examination pose many challenges for students to overcome.
One is rarely disclosed: you’ll need to write 250-300% of the same number of issues in the same amount of time to succeed on your Evidence final or an Evidence essay on the California Bar Examination.
Yup, you read that correctly. Most essays on law school finals or the California Bar Examination require you to write 7-9 issues in an hour.
Evidence, on the other hand…first one to 20 issues wins! (It’s both a marathon and a sprint!)
Now, this conundrum should be common knowledge. The problem is, no one talks about it. Well, no one except me.
Evidence Essays Are Different
One of the most important secrets behind your law school final in Evidence or your California Bar Examination if one of your essays is an Evidence essay. It is, by far, the most demanding essay in all of the California Bar.
No, this essay won’t be confused for a depth question in Civ Pro, Con Law, or Torts. And it’s not a typical exam question. This is the most extreme shotgun-type essay question. 20+ issues.
You can’t linger on an Evidence question. There’s no time to “settle in”. You have to bring it early and often. And especially in the COVID testing area, you best believe you need to finish that exam on time!
“But I can’t transfer the skills I used on my Torts final or my Con Law final or my Bus Ass final. What should I do?”
How to Prep For an Evidence Essay
I invented the Evidence Boilerplate on June 28, 2003, while grading several evidence essays for Barbri in my apartment in Oakland, CA.
I was struck by a realization that, in most subjects, there are several different types of questions. For example, in torts, there are five types of questions:
- Malicious prosecution/abuse of process,
- Products liability,
- Negligence, and
- Intentional torts.
How you approach each of those question types is pretty important, since if you wrote a negligence response to a defamation question, you’d fail the question.
Same with Civ Pro: you wouldn’t dare write a res judicata/collateral estoppel response to a personal jurisdiction question, would you? Or a 10(b)(5)/16(b) response to a duty of care/business judgment rule/duty of loyalty question? Of course not.
You need an attack plan for each type of question, in each subject, because all the questions are different.
Except when it comes to Evidence.
Sure, there are two different types of evidence questions: narrative fact patterns (i.e. the regular fact patterns like you see in the other subjects), and transcripts (i.e. the question/answer) fact patterns.
In the narrative fact pattern, what do you write? Logical relevance, legal relevance rel, personal knowledge, hearsay, exceptions, right? Absolutely. And what of the transcript? Yup, you guessed it: Logical relevance, legal relevance, personal knowledge, hearsay, exceptions! The same thing!
So I wondered how to take advantage of this realization that evidence fact patterns are generally the same, no matter what. I reviewed several bar exam questions and whadda ya know…the issues were almost always the same!
As it turns out, you can predict evidence questions to a remarkable degree of accuracy!
But why are there so many more issues in evidence questions than in other subjects?
Well, I don’t know why, but you’ve noted a very serious consideration. The average evidence question has at least 20 issues. Most other exams have 5-7. So how can you “speed up” your exam time? Or to put it another way, even if you know all 20 issues, how can you increase your output of issues by 250-300% in the same amount of time?
The Answer: The Evidence Boilerplate
On June 28, 2003, I thought about both of these critical questions:
- To a degree of 80-90% accuracy, what are the issues on all evidence exams?
- Even if you know all 20 issues, how can you increase your output of issues by 250-300% in the same amount of time?
On that fateful day, I figured out the answers to both those questions in what has become known as the Evidence Boilerplate.
Does it work? Sure has. Undefeated in 18 years of testing at the law school and the Cal Bar Exam level.
Some students have even received awards for the top grade in their Evidence class. And one Evidence professor was so impressed with the Evidence Boilerplate that he told his students, “If you don’t practice the Evidence Boilerplate, you are EMBRACING FAILURE!”
When Do I Start?
That’s the beauty of the Evidence Boilerplate.
You can start writing it on the first day of the semester. That’s right: you don’t have to know ANYTHING about Evidence law to start generating points on your final! In fact, you can start writing even before the first day of classes if you wanted to.
Draft the Evidence Boilerplate once a week, for 30 minutes a week, and you’re good to go. Be sure to use The Trigger List to see how to implicate each issue on an Evidence Essay.
What if I am reading this a month into the semester and I need to prepare for my midterms?
Write the Evidence Boilerplate once a week until 10 days before your midterm. Then write the Evidence Boilerplate once a day until your midterm. Then write the Evidence Boilerplate once a week until the last day of classes, and be sure to use The Trigger List to see how to implicate each issue on an Evidence Essay!
And if you’re reading this at the end of classes? Again, no problem!
Get my books immediately. Write the Evidence Boilerplate once every day, and be sure to use The Trigger List to see how to implicate each issue on an Evidence Essay.
That will help you get your timing down on exam day AND ensure that you can spot every issue!
Click here to get the correct answer now and save your Evidence final.
Good luck to you in your Evidence class! Good luck to you on the California Bar Examination!