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.
Decide in advance where you will work
Many take home exams give you a set time limit—somewhere between 8 and 24 hours. While that may seem like a lot of time, the exam is probably designed to take up nearly all the alloted time.
With that in mind, make the most of the time. Figure out in advance where you will write your exam. The library will probably be more crowded than usual—decide if you can still work in that situation. Doing your exam at home might work, but you will also lose time driving to and from school. In addition, if you do not usually study at home, you might become easily distracted working in a new environment.
Read the instructions three times
Everyone gets nervous and jittery during finals—which results in skimming the instructions. That can be a catastrophic error. There are three things you have to look for in take home finals: (1) word limit, (2) how much questions are worth, and (3) what you should not write about. If you fail to notice these until your final read-through, it will be too late to make changes.
Some people never see the word limit, and professors will stop reading after a certain number of words. If your brilliant analysis is past that point, you could be out of luck.
Most take home exams have between 3-5 questions, but they might not be worth the same amount of points. Your goal is get the most number of points overall, not to get the best score on one question. A broad policy question might seem like a throwaway, but if it is worth the same amount of points, do not neglect it.
Some questions will also explicitly say what not to address. That can be easy to miss and an easy way to write a terrible answer. It sounds simple, but be sure you are writing what the professor wants to hear.
Leave time for a final read through
When you write your final sentence, do not hit send or print. Spend time reading over your answers and polish your work. Making it easy to read can really help your grade. Headings and subheadings are an easy way to guide your professor through your exam.
Read the next post in this series: "Law School Exam To Do List."