Bar Exam Essay Structure: What to Expect

Bar exam essays are a dreaded thing, but fortunately, the bar exam essay structure is pretty much the same one you used for your law school essay exams. Let’s take a quick look at our recommended bar exam essay structure, and a few bar exam essay tips to help you get the most points on each essay!

Snapshot of the Bar Exam Essay Structure

Just like for your law school exam essays, you should plan to follow an I-R-A-C essay structure. If you’re blanking on your first year writing course (and you’re not alone on that one!), read on for a quick recap.

Following the I-R-A-C structure means that you’ll start by writing your issue first, and then follow up with the rule or rules of law that you plan to apply to the issue. Both the issue summary and rule summary should be clear and concise as these will demonstrate to the grader your brilliant mind at work, and set the tone for your whole essay.

Next, you’ll write out your analysis. Exactly why does that particular rule apply to these facts? Now’s your chance to show off all that logic you’ve been learning the past three years! Finally, as always, you’ll want to end with a brief conclusion—one sentence will work perfectly here. Remember your grader has to grade a lot of essays, so make their job easier and help them award you more points.

Now that you know what bar exam essay structure you’re going to follow, let’s take a quick look at how the UBE essay section is structured and what topics are tested.

UBE Essays

There are six essay questions on the UBE essay section, the Multistate Essay Exam. You have three hours to answer all six essay questions, which means you only have 30 minutes per essay.

You should take the first 10 minutes to read the essay prompt and outline your answer. Then, plan to spend 15-17 minutes writing your response, saving the last few minutes for a quick edit. Trust me on the editing time—you do not want your perfect response to be marred by a few grammatical errors!

What are these six essays going to test you on? The exciting thing is that there are a lot of topics that could be tested on the UBE essays. There are the core legal areas that are also tested on the MBE, and additional subject matter only tested on the MEE.

The bottom line is that there is an incredible amount of studying that will be required of you to pass the bar exam. But with a good study schedule and hours (and hours!) of dedicated studying, including lots of essay practice, you’ll be just fine.


Bar exam essays are challenging because of the short time period you have to respond and the wide range of legal topics they test. However, by following the bar exam essay structure outlined here, and reviewing lots of great bar exam essay tips, you’ll knock those essay graders’ socks off!

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