if you're taking it in a blue book, sketch out some notes or a like mini-outline right there on the first page before you start writing the exam. it helps the professor see your thought process and that you're organized. also, when you start writing, go straight to the issues. unless your professor has made clear he/she wants a recitation of each rule of law, with complete definitions of each element, you should dive right into the analysis because that's where all the points are . you'll still get points for knowing the rules too; in a good exam essay, you should be able to couch the rules into your analysis (parentheticals are a helpful tool for this) without wasting time writing them all out beforehand. this might be one reason you're short on time in your practice exams.