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Author Topic: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?  (Read 2604 times)

Totally1L

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How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« on: September 24, 2007, 07:53:30 PM »
So I'm a 1L this year like many of you, and I'm going to classes, briefing cases, doing all my readings, reading E&E's.. I'm a visual learner so I'm probably not going to attempt doing my own outlines, especially since I have outlines for all my profs from 2L's and 3L's that the prof's seem to read verbatim from.

So anyways, I go to class and I understand what the profs are talking about.. when they ask other people questions I know the answers, mostly.. when I've been called on I've correctly replied or at least close enough that the prof just asked another unrelated question rather than try to get me to reverse myself.  I feel like I'm getting the material as they explain it, and their explanations are reinforcing it and cementing it in my memory.

Are these good signs?  How can a student tell when they are getting it since we get basically no feedback?  I've started looking at sample exam problems and past exams with model answers available, and that just creeps me out because they seem pretty cut and dried, not difficult and I feel like any chimp who has bothered to show up to class all semester should be able to hit 90% of the outlined issues in the model answers.  If you actually study I don't see how they are going to differentiate between students.

Basically.. to those of you who have done this before.. how can I tell if I'm fooling myself or if I'm really okay?  I don't want to stress myself out needlessly... yet.  :) 

Thanks!

Jhuen_the_bird

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Re: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2007, 07:54:34 PM »
tag (you're it)

aslaw505

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Re: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2007, 08:36:57 PM »
I'm wondering the same thing. And since only one of my professors posts old exams, I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to figure it out until exam time.

thorc954

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Re: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2007, 08:40:43 PM »
My school had one midterm that really didnt count for much, this is how i knew if i was getting it.  If you are following along though, you are probably doing fine.  If you are really concerned, get a few people together in a few weeks, get a practice exam, take a few minutes outlining an answer to it, then discuss.  If you get the same things everyone else does, then either you are understanding the material, or you have picked a dumb study group. 

most people understand the law by the end though.  there is nothing inherently difficult in law school.  The key is conveying everything coherently on exams.

All I can suggest is to outline anyway.  Just do it.  There is a reason almost every law school student does it.  Whether some upper class students have done great outlines or not, its not important.  Reading over your notes and text again helps you pick up on little things that arent in other people's outlines. 

either way, it seems like you are doing fine, so do not stress it.

Falcoffej

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Re: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2007, 11:28:07 PM »
I agree... outline anyways. The process of outlining is where the learning goes on. Simply using a 2L's outline has minimal value. Sure it provides you with the blackletter law, but creating an outline (even if you use the structure of other outlines) and putting it in your own words is what cements the material in your head.

I also agree that understanding the law is not necessarily the difficult part. It's the ability to coherently lay out your analysis of the issues that will get you the good grades. If there are two answers that have the same material, but one of them is not as organized, and the other one has clear thesis sentences, etc, the latter one will get a better grade. There is usually not that much separating a B+ from an A-.

Reesespbcup

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Re: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2007, 06:30:48 AM »
Tag. Can you elaborate on the writing of exams (ie what makes one good)?
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Bob Loblaw Esq.

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Re: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2007, 07:05:19 AM »
Tag. Can you elaborate on the writing of exams (ie what makes one good)?

oh my....if you are really looking for this answer, I would suggest that you not depend on comments from this board.  Go to your library/bookstore and check out some books on the subject.  You might try John Delaney's How to do your best on law school exams.  Also, ask your profs for a past exam hypo with a model answer; those will be helpful.  But please, do not reply on this board to provide you with a thoughtful answer to such a big question.

jacy85

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Re: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2007, 07:09:07 AM »
putting it in your own words is what cements the material in your head.


For most people, yes, but not for every person.  People learn differently, and while I agree that most of us learn best by putting the material into our own words, some brains work differently.

As for writing an exam, the biggest thing I can say is to fork your answers.  For example, if your torts exam has a negligence issue, start by looking at whether there was a duty.  Write about what both the ptf and the def. would argue, JUST for duty.  Then say which side you think would likely win on the issue of duty, and why (slightly stronger argument, the rule ptf argues is the majority rule - BUT in minority jurisdiction, def would likely win, etc. etc.).  Make sure to note the "end" of the fork - if the Def wins on the issue of duty, then ptf's claim would fail.  However, if Ptf succeeds in showing a duty existed, the parties will argue whether def. breached that duty.

Then move to the next issue, breach.  Be clear on the arguments for both sides for EACH element, make sure you address all defenses along the way.  And also discuss the implications of who wins - usually if the defendant wins, the claim fails, but this isn't always the case.

This is, essentially, the LEEWS formula.  Some people say this method doesn't work for all exams (i.e. not on non-traditional issue spotters).  This hasn't been my experience at all - it's worked on EVERY exam I have taken, and   I have never gotten below a B+ on an exam.

thorc954

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Re: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2007, 08:24:02 AM »
IRAC=a good exam.  Also, you must address losing issues even if it is clear that they lose.

GA-fan

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Re: How can you tell if you're "getting it", doing enough, whatever?
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2007, 11:11:59 AM »
To know if you're getting it, I always try to explain the subject to a non-law friend and see if they understand what I'm talking about. Just like outlining, it's a good indicator if you're internalizing the information well enough to talk about it in your own words and explain it simply and logically. Make sure you buy the non-lawyer a beer, though- they'll need it  ;)