For most people, it’s one of two things: either bored/tired or anxious/stressed. Unfortunately, neither of these mindsets is conducive to studying effectively!
We’ve talked previously about factual and legal ambiguity, but let’s see how this plays out on an exam, and how you could prepare — in advance — for the sort of questions you’re likely to get.
First things first. Let’s say you’re preparing for your Contracts exam, and you want to identify some areas of likely ambiguity. Where would you start?
As many of you know (if you have read our website), I am an adjunct law professor at two Bay Area law schools. I love teaching, but I must admit grading papers is not my favorite part of teaching.
What Bad Habits Can Impact Your Law School Grades?
Anyway, when I am grading exams, I always have my eyes out for habits law students pick up that can negatively affect their grades.
One of them is using copy and paste.
Why is Copy and Paste a Problem?
Let’s take an example of a question on torts.
How Should You Handle Multiple Parties?
Typically, an exam question that covers negligence doesn’t have just one potentially negligent party, but multiple parties and each needs its own negligence analysis.
- (a) copy and paste the entire negligence analysis from the first part of the question and just edit it for the second part of the question OR
- (b) write the new section completely and use “see above” to reference law previously stated?
If you want the best possible law school grades, it’s really important when taking class notes, when outlining, and when writing exam answers to take into consideration what your professor thinks is important.
Why? Well, the professor is the one who writes the exam! And it is likely that if the professor covers something in class over and over again — then he or she is going to think it is important enough to test on exam day.
Are Professors Just Writing Random Stories?
But frequently students forget what the professor is up to when he or she writes the exam. As a professor, when you write an exam hypothetical, you typically have in mind the major legal issues you want to be triggered by the facts.
Why is this a good exercise? Well, it puts you in the place of doing exactly what the professor does.
It is also a fantastic way to test yourself on the knowledge of law. If you can create a fact situation to trigger certain discussions of the law, then you likely really understand the law and how it is applied.
Someone asked a very good question about our last post: 5 Things to Include in Your Law School Class Notes — What do you do with your class notes when it’s time to outline? If you’ve taken useful notes, and broken them into usable chunks, do you even still need an outline?
Why You Still Need an Outline
So, here’s the deal. Even if your class notes are really good, you still need to condense them. Why? Because you can’t possibly memorize and use 100+ pages of information.