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?
I hope you answered (b), since (b) is correct.
Why? There are several reasons.
#1: You might forget to edit
I have had students make the very tragic mistake of copying and pasting rules and analysis and then accidentally not editing correctly for the second section. This includes misstating the names of the parties or the facts that are being applied. Is your professor going to get annoyed by this? Yes. Is it going to influence your grade? Yes.
#2: Are these sections really identical?
Why would a professor ever create two sections of an exam that are so identical that you are going to write the same thing twice? It just doesn’t happen.
So if there is a second negligence analysis on the test, I recommend that instead of having the reaction, “Hey! I can copy and paste and get done with this question,” you should ask, “What is different about this analysis than the first analysis?”
#3: Don’t make your professor read extra material
Another reason not to copy and paste? Professors typically don’t want to read more than they have to! If they have read your rules for causation once, why would they want to do it again? It is a waste of their time and yours.
Grading papers is hard enough without making your professor read identical text multiple times in your one essay.
Not Sure What Your Professor Prefers? Ask!
And if you aren’t sure of your professor’s views on such things, go to office hours and ask him or her. Really, your professor wants to help you!
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Want more great advice from Lee? Check out these recent posts:
- The Key to Law School Exam Success? Think Like Your Professor
- Why Practice Writing Your Own Law School Exam Questions?
- Time Management Tip: Think of Law School Like a Law Job
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Won’t make this mistake again! Thank you!!
Glad it helped!
Great piece! I made this mistake on my torts exam last semester and got a C. Won’t do it again!
It happens so often! This is one part of writing exams on a computer that I don’t think most people think about. Glad you found it helpful.