“ I have an outline, but I don’t know the law well enough to do a practice exam.”
“ I don’t have time to do practice exams because I have a moot court argument/paper/legal writing assignment coming up.”
These are just some of the common excuses I hear from law students around this time in the semester about starting practice exams. Everyone knows they need to do it, but no one wants to.
Let’s take these excuses one-by-one and let me do my best to convince you that the time is now to work on practice exams.
I haven’t finished my outline yet, so I can’t do any practice exams.
Well, hopefully, you have at least part of your outline done at this point in the semester. Sure, you may not be able to take a full exam (all three hours or how ever long your exam is), but you should have outlined enough law to write out some sort of exam answer. If you haven’t outlined enough law yet, set aside some time (say, four hours) to get a chunk down on paper. Now — look at that — you have enough outlining done to do some practice.
I have an outline, but I don’t know the law well enough to do a practice exam.
Once, I actually walked out of a simulated practice exam in law school because I was determined that I didn’t know the law well enough. Well, that wasn’t my best move. What I should have done is sat there and tried to work it out — spent time with the hypothetical to try and figure it out. Is it frustrating to fight with the material? Yes! Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? No! The first hypo or practice exam that you do can be challenging and frustrating. It can make you feel stupid and that you don’t know the material. (FYI, you are not stupid, but you may not know the material). The thing is, fact patterns can actually help you learn material. Because they can force you to ask yourself important questions like, “What is this fact trying to tell me?” or “Does this fact have any impact on the legal analysis here?” All very important questions.
Here is another secret. No matter how much studying you do, when most of us sit down to take our first practice exam, it will be less than stellar. So just be ready for that. It is part of the process. It doesn’t mean you are going to fail your exam. Better you have confusion about the exam now rather than four weeks from now on exam day.
I don’t have time to do practice exams because I have a moot court argument/paper/legal writing assignment coming up.
Here is a newsflash: law school is terribly busy. Everyone is busy. You have a lot of demands on your time. Beyond your in-class exams you likely have moot court, papers or another legal writing assignment. However, you cannot let these assignments take over your life. Many students prefer working on assignments such as these because they are less abstract than “studying for exams.” But unfortunately your exams still need to be studied for and you must make time to do practice exams for all the reasons stated above.
Thus, I recommend that you spend time thoughtfully thinking about how much time you are spending on the moot court argument/paper/legal writing assignment and make sure you are balancing that work with your study time.
The bottom line: You do not want to be starting to do practice exams during the final days before exam day. No excuses, the time is now.
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And check out these helpful posts:
- Do You Need to Write Out Practice Exams?
- Where Can You Find Sample Law School Essay Exams?
- Why Practice Writing Your Own Law School Exam Questions?
- What Am I Telling My Students? Practice!
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