Law school exams are where the rubber meets the road. Your grade is based largely on what you get down on paper in those few hours, so be sure you’re ready to go!
Below, you’ll find general drafting tips for law school essay exams, advice on IRAC and IRAC-alternatives, and strategies for spending your exam-writing time wisely and turning out really great answers.
Best of luck!
General Drafting Tips for Law School Exams
- Two Ways Your Law School Exam Answers Went Wrong Getting your first law school grades can be shocking. And what can be even more confusing is trying to figure out what you did wrong. Mostly, the answer is “the curve,” of course, but there are two fundamental ways that things can go off the rails.
- 4 Ways to Improve Your Legal Writing If you're wondering how to improve your legal writing, you're not alone! Here are four things you can do to make your legal writing assignments better.
- A Handy Template for Answering “Hard” Law School Exam Questions What not to do: cry and start drawing conclusions. What to do: embrace ambiguity and think it through. Oh, and read this post.
- How to Deal With a Really Long Fact Pattern on Exam Day What if you open your exam to find the longest essay you've ever seen? Don't panic! Just remember the following steps and attack the test like a pro.
- From Bare Bones to Meaty Analysis: How to Skeleton Outline Your Essay We here at the Law School Toolbox put a lot of weight in pre-planning essays and front-loading the work so the actual writing is more of a breeze. If you’re not sure what I mean by “scratch paper outlining” or “pre-planning” your essay, think of it as making a blueprint for the answer you’re about to write. Here are some steps to keep in mind.
- Top Three Mistakes on Final Exams and How to Fix Them Now! While it is not constructive to rehash your mistakes, it is constructive to identify weaknesses in your exam-writing skills — and to make a plan to improve those skills starting now.
- How to Use the Facts on Law School Exams Factual Analysis is an important lawyering skill. Here are some strategies to use the facts to your advantage on your law school exams!
- How to Move From Outline to Exam Answer Here are some tips for using your outline to prepare for exams – even if you haven’t finished your outlines yet.
IRAC and Organizational Alternatives
- How to Organize Your Law School Exam Answers Although it depends on the preference of the professor (which you’ll suss out by examining their sample answers and asking questions), there are some generally accepted organizational strategies that you’ll want to consider.
- The Elusive Mini-IRAC: A Key to Law School Exam Success IRAC, the notorious structural underpinning of many a law school final exam is a relatively straightforward concept. But how do you handle an exam or practice essay when it isn’t that simple? The Mini-IRAC is the key.
- Help! My Professor Said Not To IRAC IRAC is so well established, and so useful, that it comes as a shock when a professor says, “I don’t want you to IRAC the exam.” What is a student to do?
How to Spend Your Time While Writing an Exam Answer
- Copy and Paste: Your Worst Enemy on a Law School Exam? When Lee is grading exams, she always has her eyes out for habits law students pick up that can negatively affect their grades. One of them is using copy and paste.
- Use This To Save Time on Essay Exams Most students think their course outline is just there to help them organize the material they learned in class. Not so. A good course outline can also help you pre-draft portions of your essay exams, which will save you time on the exam and help you produce a comprehensive, organized answer.
- Should You Proofread Your Law School Exams? Many law students struggle with time management during the law school exam period. One culprit of this can be spending too much time trying to make your essay perfect for the grader. News flash — under timed conditions, your professor does not expect perfection.
- Are You Wasting Time on Your Law School Exams? Almost every student I work with feels like they are running low on time when it comes to finishing an exam. So how do you work more efficiently? Here are two suggestions that I typically give to students to help them write more efficiently on law school exams.
- Pacing Yourself Through Finals, Part 2: Test Taking Time Management So, you know your material, but do you know how to budget your time during an exam? Read here for some suggestions on how to pace yourself when you're taking your finals.
Strategies for Great Law School Exam Answers
- The Single Most Important Word in a Law School Exam Answer If you remember nothing else, remember this! There is — I kid you not —one single word that can radically transform your law school grades for the better. What is it?
- What Makes a Law School Exam Answer “Good”? Seems like a no-brainier: Before you can write a successful law school exam answer, you need to know what makes an answer “good.” Check out our list here.
- How to Write a Law School Exam: Deal With the Ambiguity To write a great law school exam answer, you’ve got to do one critical thing: Deal with the ambiguity. Why is ambiguity important? Because the points are in the debate.
- The Most Important Thing You Can Do on a Law School Exam What’s the single most important thing you can do on a law school exam? This one’s easy! Answer the question! Here's how to answer a question the right way.
- Could You Explain This Legal Concept to a 5-Year-Old? The next time you encounter a super-confusing legal topic, ask yourself one question: could I explain this concept to a reasonably intelligent 5-year-old? If the answer’s no, it’s time to simplify! Here's how.
Want some help preparing for exams? Check out our law school tutoring options, and set yourself up to do your very best!