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The Nature and Correlates of Law School Essay Grades

Linn, Robert L.; Klein, Stephen P.; Hart, Frederick M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Essay Tests, Factor Analysis, Law Schools, Test Bias


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between a number of characteristics of a set of essays to the grades assigned to them. The essays were written by 79 law students from 16 law schools who answered a common question as part of their regular final exam in Contracts. High grades on the essay were found to be related to identifying and writing on major rather than minor issues, arguing both sides of an issue while pushing strongly for a particular conclusion, and using legal jargon. Poor handwriting and composition errors were related to low scores.

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