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QUICK GUIDE ON HOW TO ANSWER ESSAY-TYPE QUESTIONS

Prof. Jose Angelo A. David

A. Anatomy of Essay-Type Questions

1. Objective type questions which ask for definitions, enumerations and distinctions
2. Hypothetical type questions which provide a set of facts requiring the application
of legal provisions or doctrines for resolution

B. Addressing Essay-Type Questions

1. Form

a. Observe proper margins The left-hand side must be wider than the right-hand
side. Leave at least one or two spaces on the top and bottom parts of the page.
b. Write legibly Whether or not in cursive form, make sure that your handwriting is
big enough to read.
c. Observe proper indention and spacing Leave one space after every paragraph
and indent the first line of each paragraph.
d. Follow basic grammatical rules, punctuation and spelling Common mistakes are
subject-verb agreement, sentence fragments, voice and perspective.

Voice and perspective


Write in the active voice but in the third person perspective.

Incorrect: In one case decided by the Supreme Court, it was ruled that psychological
incapacity is characterized by gravity, incurability and juridical antecedence.

Correct: According to the Supreme Court, psychological incapacity is characterized


by gravity, incurability and juridical antecedence.

Correct: In the case of Republic v. Molina, the Supreme Court held that psychological
incapacity is characterized by gravity, incurability and juridical antecedence.

Incorrect: I firmly believe that the petitioner is correct.

Correct: The petitioner is correct.

Incorrect: I submit that the defendant is not liable.

Correct: No, the defendant is not liable.

e. Use introductory and transitional expressions wisely.

f. Refrain from using abbreviations. Use acronyms sparingly.

Examples of abbreviations which are not allowable: w/c for which, bec. or coz
for because.

Examples of allowable acronyms: NCC for the New Civil Code, FC for Family
Code, RPC for Revised Penal Code, SC for Supreme Court BUT make sure
that you have indicated the usage of such acronym in an earlier part of your exam.
2. Substance

Follow this format

Short Answer Law Application Conclusion (SLAC)

a. Short Answer
Address the question being asked.
Use the echo method.

Example

Q: Is the petitioner correct?


A: No, the petitioner is not correct (in contending that )

Q: As counsel for the plaintiff, what legal action will you take?
A: As counsel for the plaintiff, I will file a motion for reconsideration of the courts
judgment (nullifying the marriage between the parties.)

Q: Decide on the motion filed by the respondent.


A: The motion should be denied (because )

b. Law
State the law or jurisprudence applicable to the case.
Use proper citation. Do not write the article number or case title if you are not 100%
sure if it is the correct citation.

Introductory terms
Generic: Under the New Civil Code, , Under the law, , It is a well-settled rule
that

Specific: Article 14 of the New Civil Code provides that , In the case of U.S. v. Ah
Chong, the Supreme Court held that , The Supreme Court has ruled in the case
of Cui v. Arellano University that

c. Application
Apply the law to the given set of facts.
Be consistent. Use the same concepts or terms that you used in your legal basis.
Do not assume facts. Limit yourselves to the facts given in the question.

Transitional terms:
Here , In this case , In the case at bar , In the problem , Based on the
facts,

d. Conclusion
The conclusion must address the issue which may or may not be the same as the
direct question.
Therefore, there can be two conclusion statements in one answer one addressing
the question posed, and the other addressing the issue.

Transitional terms:
Therefore, , Thus, , Hence, , To conclude,