I read a lot of personal statements for folks a few cycles ago, and voice was probably one of the biggest writing problems I saw.It's tough to describe because there are a number of "voices" you can adopt and be successful; I've read some real students' sample answers and they range from the dramatic ("You can't handle the truth!") and overly familiar ("The defendant is ridiculous if he thinks that...") to the pseudo-legalistic jibberish ("heretofore wherethence hast thou consideration, summa cum laude, inter alia, thou art a scoundrel, supra!") to the snoozefest ("I will tell you X,Y, and Z. First, X. Then Y. Third, Z. In conclusion, I have told you X, Y, and Z.")I think the best students have the ability to adopt the voice of the "clever academic." Within that, there is a range that you can adapt for the particular professor. You can also read your professor's academic writing to find out their voice for legal analysis. (For example, I drop lame jokes in my exam answers if my professors drop lame jokes in their academic writing.) And just generally, I'd read "Clueless in Academia" for some help on basic argumentation and understanding why some people excel in academia and others don't. The other major things that most students don't do are: 1) answer the damn question that was asked (imply an "Explain your reasoning." to the end of any question) and 2) use a flexible exam-writing style that they can change based on the grading requirements and professor.If your professor is a "get all the points you can - I have a detailed rubric where a perfect score is unattainable" grader, I'd just scribble crap down without worrying about complete sentences even. On those kinds of tests, you don't get points for clever intro or nice transition sentences. If the professor grades on a loose rubric, organization and writing becomes even more essential for distinguishing yourself from other students.
QuoteDo profs tell you "I grade on a rubric" and all that jazz?Most profs spend at least 20 minutes sometime in the semester telling you about how they grade. You can always email or attend a review session, where they may be willing to talk strategy in-depth. But you'll also probably be able to tell from a sample answer to one of their old exams if they post it. The two extremes of grading are the professors who have a very strict rubric to others who just read your answer and arbitrarily assign a value. Other professors fall anywhere in between, and you'll just have to take your best guess based on your classroom experience with them. Figuring out your professors is almost as important as figuring out the law.
Do profs tell you "I grade on a rubric" and all that jazz?
1) answer the damn question that was asked (imply an "Explain your reasoning." to the end of any question)
2. Some people swear by briefing. I think it's a terrible waste of time. Better/More Succint/Just as Useful Method:List case name, 1 sentence description of the facts, 1-2 sentence description of the takeaway (keeping casebook header in mind), 1-2 sentence description of any valid counterargument/dissent. Page number. For example: Romer v. EvansState amendment prohibits local govts from enacting anti-discrimination measures protecting gays. Amendment lacks a rational relationship to state interests bc it is a "Bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group." CB 509Dissent Scalia: Voters have a right to consider certain conduct morally reprehensible and take measures against it.
Get a sense of humor, Susan B. Anthony!
I'm going to cut a female dog. With a knife with a brown handle, natch.
Don't judge me. You've not had my life.
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