Bar Examinations and Bar Passage

Teaching to the Test: The Incorporation of Elements of Bar Exam Preparation in Legal Education

Emmeline Paulette Reeves, University of Richmond School of Law


"This essay is not a defense of the bar exam as the ultimate measure of a new lawyer's ability to think like a lawyer or to practice law. Much has been said and written about the merits, or (more often) the lack thereof, of the modern-day bar exam. Rather than rehash this debate, this essay accepts the premise that the bar exam, with its positive and negative attributes, is a reality for the overwhelming majority of law school graduates, and thus, the question is whether law schools can actually enhance teaching by focusing on that looming reality. In other words, can some degree of 'teaching to the test' prove to be a useful strategy both in achieving the aims of the traditional law school education and, at the same time, better preparing students for the bar exam and for their legal careers? In short, the emphatic conclusion of this essay is 'yes'" (646).