Law professors and bloggers Eugene and Sasha Volokh have posted torts exams at The Volokh Conspiracy for fun. Torts, if you are thinking about going to law school, is pretty much a microcosm of what law school is all about. You study for an entire semester only to spend 3+ hours so that you can parse a question like this:
On law school exam day, there is going to be a lot on your mind. Your head will already be spinning with all of the different rules, balancing tests, doctrines and cases that you have semi-memorized for that day’s exam. So it will be important to have your test day amenities squared away. Randall Ryder has covered some great points on how to prep for test day, but I thought that I would add a few more basic pointers. Here are a few of the things that you will absolutely need to have in order before your four-hour clickity-clack exam extravaganza gets underway.
As a 1L, you should focus your energies on excelling on exams. This focus should be to the exclusion of everything else except other required work. If you don’t focus on exams, you’ll have far fewer opportunities down the road. And in this job market, you can’t afford to let that happen.
There is no denying it: the bar exam sucks. By the time this goes to press, in addition to having completed several months of rigorous study, February bar examinees, myself included, will have tackled one to three grueling days of the worst legal torture of our lives. As if that isn’t masochistic enough, we’re going to have to wait at least two months to receive the results. The bar exam is a cruel mistress, but we don’t have to let this soul-sucking test continue to control our lives after it’s said and done. The bar exam sucks, but your life doesn’t have to when it’s over.
There are plenty of ways to succeed in law school. Grades, of course, are one measure of success. As exams loom on the horizon, creating an overall study plan is an excellent way to put yourself in position to excel.
Take home finals can be traps for the unsuspecting. Treat them like any other final and follow these tips to succeed.
The end of each semester in law school brings a flood of emotions. We expect the relief and even glee that comes with selling, shelving, or destroying casebooks and bidding the classrooms farewell.
What is not so expected is what I half-jokingly call decompression sickness, or the stress that comes from a great decrease (or shift in focus) of stress.
Increase your chances of success on law school exams by learning to ”channel your professor.” At the most basic level, this simply means that you should write for your audience, i.e., your professor. Consider what your professor wants.
First, your professor wants you to demonstrate your knowledge and fluency of course concepts . Second, your professor wants exams to be well-organized and easy to read. Most students leave it at that. But you will be well-served by learning to craft answers using the language and methodology of your professor.
Think of it this way: most professors would give themselves an “A.” If you can figure out how the professor would approach an exam problem and mimic that approach, you increase you chances of earning an “A” yourself.
Guest post by Sara Jaspers.
Outliner 4.0 by Storelaw
As a first-year law student, one of the most frustrating aspects of law school is how to structure class outlines in preparation for finals. Outline organization can be difficult juggling the notes taken on readings prior to class, notes taken during class, and consolidating and condensing the ultimate outline you will use to study for the final exam.
My first semester I took extensive notes on anything and everything and then eventually reduced those notes to a separate outline in a separate document. The second semester I switched from using a typical Microsoft Word document to Outliner 4.0 software for taking notes, which has been an immense time-saver.
Professors craft complex and nuanced fact patterns for their exams. They spend a great deal of time drafting exam problems without clear answers, problems that allow students to differentiate themselves based on their grasp of the material. Do not insult them by including words or phrases like the following in your answers: ”clearly,” “obviously,” “the only sensible conclusion,” “without a doubt.”
This week I have offered study and test-taking tips for the common law school exam formats. Today I cover the last common evaluation method, the final paper. In prior posts, I wrote as a recent graduate. This post I also
write as an adjunct professor of law who will grade final papers in the coming weeks. Here, in my view, are 10 steps to writing a great law school paper.