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Author Topic: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.  (Read 5748 times)

jhb241

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Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« on: November 04, 2006, 03:21:22 PM »
I went to an exam workshop and they told us we should write our exams in IRAC format. I'm a little confused as to what kind of wording and format we are supposed to use.

This is what I gather about it. I will use a contracts hypothetical. Please tell me if I am getting this.

Issue - Here I would say something like "Sam would sue John to enforce the promise because there was consideration."

Then in the next sentence, I would discuss:

Rule - "Under consideration, there must be a bargain by both parties and either a detriment to the promisee or a benefit to the promisor."

Analysis - Go through and apply the test to the particular facts and argue for both Sam and John.

Conclusion - Here, would I say "the likely result would be so and so" or what??

Is this the correct format for how to answer an exam essay question? If not, what is??

Thanks for any help!


melly5648

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Re: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2006, 05:04:02 PM »
You're issue sounds more like the conclusion. Rephrase it to state "Is there adequate consideration so that Sam may sue John to enforce the promise?" It should be more of a quesiton than a statement. Your conclusion is who you believe has the most convincing argument. I offer a really great outline for Contracts (and some other 1L classes) if you want to check it out.

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jacy85

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Re: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2006, 06:18:00 PM »
Yeah, your issue and rule statement seem a little off.

You're most likely going to get some huge hypo.  There may be several different contracts or parties involved. 

This is how I'd approach a basic contract question:

John will will argue there he and DAvid entered into an enforceable contract.  For a contract to be enforceable, there must be a valid offer, an acceptance, and consideration.  First, J must show there was an offer.  For an offer to be valid, it must be communicated to the offeree, must indicate a desire to enter into a K, etc. etc. He will assert that his statement to D, "I'll sell you my house for $5" was an offer because it was communicated to D, it indicted J's desire to enter into a deal, etc..  D could argue the offer wasn't valid because of X and Y reasons.  J will likely prevail on this issue.

J will next argue that D accepted the contract.  A valid acceptance requires X.  J will argue that D accepted when he said, "Ok" and paid $5.  D will argue that he didn't accept because Y.  J will likely prevail.

J will finally have to show that there was valid consideration.   Consideration is X.  J will argue Y.  D will counter with X.  D will likely prevail.

Therefore, while J will likely win on the issues of offer and acceptance, D will probably win on the issue of consideration, and the contract between J and D will probably be unenforceable. 

If, however, the court accepts J's argument for consideration, there is a valid contract.  J must then show that D breached this contract.

AFter this, you'll argue back and forth with breach, stating the ultimate conclusion regarding whether D breached.  If he didn't, then J gets no remedy.  If he did, J will argue remedy.  You're essentially doing lots of little IRACs, and you have to argue both sides of the argument.

While you're doing all this, you should keep in mind that you don't have to redefine consideration 20 times.

Actually, the short answer for this is just drop teh cash and get LEEWS (or at least the LEEWS primer)

scottyd1982

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Re: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2006, 02:09:08 PM »
My Contracts professor did an in-class exam-taking workshop a couple weeks ago, and he illustrated an alternative to IRAC, CRAC (sounds fun, eh?)

Conclusion
Rule
Application
Conclusion

Example:

1. Conclusion - "Yes, John is guilty of battery against Mark." This is a simple answer, framing your argument for your professor.  It will more easily guide them through your reasoning until you re-state your conclusion.

2. Rule - "According to the Restatement, a person has committed a battery against another when they have intended to make harmful or offensive contact that is neither consented to nor otherwise privileged." Simple statement of the rule is all that is necessary here. If you need to explain further to clarify your application section.

3. Application - "John punched Mark in the face when Mark wasn't looking, breaking his nose. Mark never consented to this action, and, even if he had, the act was unlawful, mitigating any consent. The act was not privileged, because it did not take place in a context, such as a boxing ring, where some actions are permitted." All you need to do here is apply the facts to the rule in order to buttress your conclusion.

4. Conclusion - "Therefore, John is guilty of battery against Mark, and may be held liable for any damages that may result as a consequence of this act." A more expansive conclusion that includes any other considerations as a result of the conclusion.

Not sure if that helps. But I think this format makes it a lot easier and a lot less stressful in doing hypotheticals and answering model exam questions.
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jacy85

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Re: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2006, 05:30:14 PM »

3. Application - "John punched Mark in the face when Mark wasn't looking, breaking his nose. Mark never consented to this action, and, even if he had, the act was unlawful, mitigating any consent. The act was not privileged, because it did not take place in a context, such as a boxing ring, where some actions are permitted." All you need to do here is apply the facts to the rule in order to buttress your conclusion.

All of this is pretty good, but you want to be careful here.  You're better off, IMO, breaking the application up by what each side will argue.  You'd do all of Mark's arguments that there was a battery (basically, the elements, your prima facie case).  Then all of John's arguments in defense (either against John's prima facie case OR defenses, like consent) and then return to Mark's counter arguments (no consent)

This seems much more drawn out than what you wrote, but I think its better for a couple of reasons.  You can't just walk in an vomit on the page, this is the rule, this is my application.  YOu need to show your professor that you can ARGUE the law, and by making arguments for each party, you're giving them concrete proof that you know the law and can apply it. 

Secondly, and probably more importantly, your probably less likely to leave something out by going side by side.  You'll start w/ the initial burden of proof (what does Mark have to show to establish a claim for battery?) and then to John (Ok, what can mark argue against John's case to get out of trouble?) and then finally any rebuttal (How is Mark going to counter John's argument?)  It'll keep you straighter, and it's almost a more natural way of thinking about things.  I found when I was learning to write exams last year that if I just sort of dove in looking for stuff randomly, I'd inevitably leave something out.  Once I started going tort by tort (or K by K, or whatever), and then party by party, I started writing more complete answers.

scottyd1982

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Re: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2006, 01:06:28 PM »
Jacy,

Agreed, although, in the interests of time, I was actually in Civ Pro yesterday while one of our gunners was droning on with this hypothetical about discovery (yes, DISCOVERY) that I couldn't pay attention. But yes, I like the argument, rebuttal, and surrebuttal format.
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Mozart711

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Re: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2006, 09:41:25 AM »
This reply probably has less to do with an answer and more to do with another question, but I thought that the benefit-detriment theory of consideration was "out-dated". Most courts, since the Restatement of Contracts in 1933 came out, use the bargain theory. I notice that when most people speak of consideration they use the legal-detriment theory. What is the correct rule of consideration that would be used on the exam?

Sorry I couldn't help with the IRAC question. I am having my own difficulties with this strange exam format, and I have the LEEWS primer.



I went to an exam workshop and they told us we should write our exams in IRAC format. I'm a little confused as to what kind of wording and format we are supposed to use.

This is what I gather about it. I will use a contracts hypothetical. Please tell me if I am getting this.

Issue - Here I would say something like "Sam would sue John to enforce the promise because there was consideration."

Then in the next sentence, I would discuss:

Rule - "Under consideration, there must be a bargain by both parties and either a detriment to the promisee or a benefit to the promisor."

Analysis - Go through and apply the test to the particular facts and argue for both Sam and John.

Conclusion - Here, would I say "the likely result would be so and so" or what??

Is this the correct format for how to answer an exam essay question? If not, what is??

Thanks for any help!



shaz

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Re: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2006, 11:45:09 PM »
question for those who have gone through this exam process already:

if your exam has @ 13-20 issues, how are you to get all those iracs done in under the time limit? i think our long essays are only @ 1 & 1/2 hours. it does not seem possible that one could type out 10 plus pages of iracs, unless they can type over 100 words per minute. it seems like there would be very little time for reflection.   :-\

people keep telling me it's what you say and not how much, but even the minumum needed just to say "what" seems like a lot. 
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jacy85

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Re: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2006, 07:55:44 AM »
If there's 20 issues, its likely some issues are going to be "repeats."

If you're taking a torts exam, you might have a total of 6 "battery" issues, 8 negligence, and the rest a few other intentional torts.  It makes no sense to write huge paragraphs for each element of each issue.  With negligence, one issue might turn on whether there was a duty; the other elements might be clear.  On another negligence issue, there may clearly be a duty, but its questionable whether there is breach.

You need to not only spot the issues, but recognize which elements are problematic.  You want to spend your time analyzing those point, and you can summarily get through the others with a a sentence or two.

peeper

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Re: Writing Exams (in IRAC). Please tell me where I am wrong.
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2006, 09:05:15 AM »
Shaz,

You've hit upon an important point that you all need to keep in mind. Time is the most important factor on exams!  To do well, you need to be fast, clear, and concise in your answers.  Otherwise, you won't be able to finish all of the questions on the exam and will do poorly no matter how well you understand the material. 

With that said here are a couple of tips that might be helpful: (FWIW, I'm top 10% at a T14.  After first semester, I had a 3.1, but corrected my mistakes, and have had above a 4.0 since)

1.  Focus on the fact pattern an the question that's being asked.  Don't get bogged down in trying to show everything you know.  Don't offer a hypothetical alteration to the fact pattern to say:  "If facts were like this, then this law would be applicable".  Just focus on what's there, answer that question, and move on to the next one. It's better to have a less-then thorough answer to every question than to leave some unanswered. 

2.  It's almost never necessary to say:  "The rule is...."  This wastes valuable time that you just don't have.  Just state your conclusion, apply the rule to show how you got to that conclusion, and then restate your conclusion, and then move on to the next question.  So long as your analysis is good and hits all the relevant points, it will be clear that you know what the rule is. 

3.  Don't be afraid to have "maybe" (or "It's unclear") as the conclusion to your argument.  Sometimes it is unclear how the law applies to a particular set of facts and there are good arguments for both sides.  State what these arguments are, and the facts in the fact-pattern which support these arguments, and then move on. 

4.  Be concise in your analysis and focus on what's truly important.  Remember to just focus on the issues that are in the fact pattern and analyze these issues quickly and concisely.  But some issues are more difficult and more important to analyze than others. You want to focus on the difficult issues that are hard to answer, while still showing that you understand the obvious stuff. When the answer is clear, don't waste time analyzing both sides to the issue. Just state your conclusion, offer a brief analysis of why it's clear, and move on. But if there's some doubt about the answer, spend the time discussing the counter-arguments and offering a little more detailed analysis. The fact pattern will determine what issues are clear and which ones are not, and it just all depends on your exam. 

5.  Being under the word limit is almost never a problem.  In most of my exams, I am pretty far below the word limit. Quite frankly, once you just focus on what's at issue in the fact pattern, and not on showing off everything you know, there's not that much to say. 

6.  The Professor rules. Remember that it is the professor grading your exam.  So if he gives instructions about what to do, be sure to follow them exactly.  Also, don't bash his favorite argument or try to convince him that he's wrong.  The exam is in not the place to try and do this--just give him what he wants to hear. 

Well that's all I have.  I hope it's helpful--good luck!