Law School Discussion

How to be successful when taking law school exams

How to be successful when taking law school exams
« on: October 26, 2010, 12:47:27 PM »
I'm going to get straight to the point:

First and Foremost: Master IRAC

Take plenty of practice exams, and when doing so if it is more logical to separate issues by party as opposed to issue, then do so. And the same applies to issues. Memorize the Rules, and make sure they are accurate. The best way to be sure of accuracy is to ask your professor. If your professor is an ass, and doesn't like for students to ask him/her questions, ask another professor at your school who is familiar with the subject or you could utilize LexisNexis or Westlaw. Memorize those rules and tests.

When taking exams, apply the rules to the facts WITHIN the hypo.
 Do not add facts to the exam or skip important facts. Provide arguments as best as possible for both sides. Sometimes it may be so obvious to you who think should win. But, law school exams usually are never that cut and dry. There's always room for argument on the other side, just pay close attention to facts in you hypo. Do not be conclusory, and explain why the rules you are using apply to your exam hypo/s, and fully explain your arguments.
Don't rely a lot on commercial outlines. If you must use a commercial outline, use Emmanuel's or Gilbert's. They are sold at your law school bookstores, and online. I found Emmanuelís to be better because it is very detailed and more accurately provides the rules and tests than Gilbert's. Gilbert's, however, is better organized and includes a lot of extraneous information which could be relevant for your exam.

 Be careful when using other people's outlines also: they tend to shorten their outlines in ways that may be confusing to you .  My advice is to just Do YOUR OWN outline because (a) itís a meaningful part of the study process (as you are typing or writing the outline you're learning) (b) you can organize your class notes, material from commercial outlines, other outlines you've gathered in a way that makes sense to you.

Preparation for class can be taxing. The best way to be prepared for class is to read the cases assigned. Don't use commercialized case-briefs 9/10 you won't fully understand what the cases are about (even those casebrief books that are keyed to your law book).
 Understand that rules, propositions, etc. that YOUR professor wants you to draw from particular cases. You would definitely want to know what the current law is, and which topics tend to have a lot of mini issues, which is where your arguments and counter-arguments derive.
This is where having a study buddy may be helpful. If donít understand something your study partner just might, and vice versa.
Study Groups for exams, however, are only necessary if you are a person who relies on others to keep you motivated. For me, studying with others proved to be a distraction, and not because other group members were chatty, loud, etc. I just prefer to study alone.

Treat law school like it's your job, which means put in the work!
It may be hard considering a lot of first years typically have 5-6 classes. But develop a routine that permits you to be prepared for your classes, allots time for you to study, complete your Legal Memos, rest, eat, exercise, etc.

Good Luck
Stya Confident and Motivated!


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Re: How to be successful when taking law school exams
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2010, 02:17:55 PM »
Agree with everything you said. All of that was common sense to me, but it is crazy that so many people do not understand that. I will still never understand what people are thinking when they do even read the case book & miss classes etc and rely on supplements & outlines that are unrelated to the professor they are taking. This screwed a girl over on one of the finals we had. She is a smart enough girl, but she attends class once in awhile & rarely does the reading solely relying on BarBri. In class several times are professor said the law has recently changed in regards to the class. He said he was not aware of any supplements that had been produced since this law had come into effect. Several times in class he specifically pointed this out and he made a xeroxed supplement with the Supreme Court Decision. He said we will go over this and it will be on the test somewhere. Still she ignored this and was not there for that class before the exam we were reviewing and I told her what he said in class, but she refused to listen and just said it was in the Barbri book. I did tell her the Barbri book is a book. Things have changed since it has been published and the law changes daily. The professor specifically assigned us a huge case to read and discussed it extensively in class. Had she merely read & paid attention she would have been fine. Common sense should kick in and you should read the cases and show up and pay attention in class. That is what you are paying exorbitant amounts of money for.

Law school really is not that hard. Read the cases you are assigned, people have done 100x harder things than read 50-60 pages a day. When you do that stay off the internet in class. Nothing that important is going to happen over an hour & 15 minutes. Maybe it does for some people, but I have gone an hour & fifteen without checking my e-mail and survived.  Then of course take practice exams etc and realize your professor writes the exams. Professors are human beings who do not want to write the exam anymore than you want to take it. They are going to use the things they discussed in class to put on the exam they are not going to scan Barbri for obscure things etc. They arealso  going to put a spin on it especially since writing an exam sucks. If they have a specific area they like to discuss that should be a cue that professor is going to ask about that. It is really just common sense, but most law students severely lack that from what I have seen.

Law school is pretty damn easy you told exactly what to do and if you follow the exact steps they tell you to do then it will be ok. Do not spend endless amounts of time trying to find shortcuts that may not even help you.  Simply do the work by reading the cases and paying extremely close attention in class.  It is possible to stay alert for one hour & fifteen minutes.  Then practice the exams. You can even take it to a professor a few weeks before the exam to see if you are on the right track. Doing those three things really is not that hard, especially since many 1L's do not work or do anything else besides law school. If you are paying exorbitant amounts of money you owe it to yourself to put in a bit of effort and just do what you are required to do. I am so baffled by people that do not understand that.

Re: How to be successful when taking law school exams
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2011, 09:01:27 PM »
I like that you mentioned that you should treat this as a job, since it most likely will affect your future career.  I think it's a wake up call for a lot of people who are used to the more simplistic undergrad classes and they think they may be able to skate by through this as well.  Hopefully they'll soon realize this isn't the case (or they'll be looking for a new career path).


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Re: How to be successful when taking law school exams
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2011, 09:27:18 AM »
The OP is probably right about everything he said, but I think a lot of advice like this only applies to some people. 

Do everything he says for the first semester.  If that doesn't work out as well as you'd like, try this method.
For an open outline test, Find two outlines from people that got great grades.   You can probably find an outline from a law review editor or something.
Read through the relevant section of the outline before class and then take quick notes on the outline during class in between your web browsing.
Read cases when you are up, or just check the headnotes on westlaw and read the facts.
Then three weeks before the final, read through your outlines with notes as many times as you can (like 40 or 50) and create a great index and table of contents for the outline and go take the test.

On the exam follow the IRAC or CRAC method. List your mini-conclusion, then list the rules for a section, then  say  "here we have this fact, and this argument applies the relevant rules to this fact, next we have this fact, and this next argument applies these relevant rules to this fact"  etc.

Don't make stupid arguments, and don't apply rules that are completely irrelevant, but try to fit most of your outline into the test.

Many people will criticize what I say, but they probably haven't had the courage to try this, so they waste their time reading through a ton of cases full of irrelevant information.

It's good to know how to read and analyze a case, so make sure you can do that, but don't read all the cases just to get familiar with the rules.

Re: How to be successful when taking law school exams
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2011, 04:57:37 PM »
A lot of it depends on the school. Some schools test towards the bar exam. They have a 1 hour multiple choice and a 2 hour essay. If you are in that situation then pick up a used bar exam multiple choice book from ebay and go to work on the multiple choice questions. While you may have some state specific questions that the bar book will not have, it is at least good practice for getting your timing down on the multiple choice.