I depart with you a bit on the practice exams & hypos. I took one practice exam in fall of 1L year and haven't touched one since. I still find it inefficient (chances of running into the same fact pattern relatively low) and I think it can even be harmful (I think some people have a tendency to say "Oh, I've seen this before!" when they recognize something rather than looking at the nuances of that particular question, doesn't help you get in tune with the particular professor, and some of the books--E&Es, especially--are so simplistic that they'd help you rock a below median GPA at best at some schools). Plus, they in no way prepare you for significant policy/theory questions that are popular at top law schools.
I still read over the professor's previous exams, if available, but only because they tell me something about the professor rather than the law. I've had a pretty successful run, but I also don't want to suggest that everyone should do what I did. The biggest piece of advice is to FIGURE OUT YOUR PROFESSOR, then figure out the law and how to study. Think about the endgame (the exam or paper) on Day 1 and everything else should be the means to the end.
Aloha, Nose & All -
I very nearly deleted my post (several times). Not because it's not true, but because it raises a rather difficult psychological specter for many. Most have read one or more pre-law books with the generic advice (notes, color-coding, etc.) that comports with what feels comfortable, based on years and years of it having worked. Yet it worked not because it was a good way to study, but because it was the only way teachers had to reach the vast middle. You did well because you were smart. Here I come, saying that in law school that's all nonsense. It is nonsense, but it's likely that few will actually break those habits. And, rather than get mad at themselves for having ignored advice (which, of course, will only be clear once it's too late), they'll lash out, at nearly everyone. Very sad.
As to study aids, to a large degree I agree. "Study aids" are exactly that. They're a supplement. They're not the main course. The main course is anything that ties into learning black letter law and learning how to use it. It's like studying how to hit a ball. At some point, you need to just hit it. And to get good, you need to hit it many, many times.
Practice exams are useful not because they'll give some secret into the prof's mind. Truth is, it really doesn't matter what the prof's mind is. (Yes, one should certainly pay attention to a professor's biases and thoughts. But be VERY careful how you incorporate these into an exam.) Why do I write yet another heresy? . . . Pick any reasonably good attorney, give them an exam, and they're going to do very, very well. Not because they're smart--they're no smarter than you. And not because they're experienced. Well, not exactly. They'll do well because the fact pattern simply touches upon basic concepts that are part of that subject. They had to study it in first year. They had to study for the bar exam. And they live it nearly every day. Yes, there are differences and nuances and subtleties and so on. All true, and all irrelevant. Actually, those differences make the underlying truth all the more important: those games in law school are a grand distraction. The basics are true, and are needed, in EVERY exam. It has to be.
Think about it. You're drafting a Contracts exam for your students. What are you going to go over? Idaho potato futures?
Every Contracts exam is going to deal, in some way, with some combination of formation, breach, remedies, etc., and perhaps a fun diversion into unconscionability. It's no secret. The only secret is what will be the specific fact pattern (including odd facts, irrelevant facts, and red herrings). Those won't change the answer. They'll dictate just what each sentence says. But the structure of the essay is going to be remarkably the same. (Yes, unlike law practice in an exam one also needs to specify and then discount everything that does NOT apply, to show that you know what it is and why it doesn't apply.)
The "secret" to hypos (i.e., practice exams) isn't that they'll give you an inside track. It's that they'll etch that track into your mind: the ways of thinking through a fact pattern in Subject X. New fact pattern? Big deal. It's pretty much the same set of analyses. You're going to run through the same set of tests regardless of the actual exam.
To all, I hope I've not completely stopped up the works. Well, that's not entirely true. I hope I have . . . and that you are able to take whichever pieces of the above can help you to ace those exams, and thus law school. In the meantime, please don't waste your time on busy makework just because everyone else seems to think that's the way it has to be.
(Just to be clear, were it me I would completely restructure law school so that 90% would be getting "A's" . . . by producing real lawyerly work. The system as it is composed now is horribly unfair to the majority of students. Don't get me started . . . = : )