If you are visiting the Law School Toolbox, it is likely that you want to do better on your law school essay exams. And one of the things we talk about on this site is the importance of practicing writing out exam answers.
Practice is how we learn how to apply the law we learn in law school. And the application of the law is exactly what we do when we are practicing lawyers.
Think about it — a client walks in, tells you her story, and asks your legal opinion as to whether or not she can sue.
How do you know the answer to that? You think about the law and apply it to the fact pattern! So practicing this skill is not just good for preparing for finals, it is important as part of your path to becoming a licensed attorney!
Where Can You Find Practice Materials?
Hopefully we have sold you on the need to practice writing. But with that comes a very common question from students: Where do I find practice materials?
Have no fear — we are here to help:
- Sometimes professors release previous exams: If you are lucky, your professor will release some previous exams. This is the best practice material because it is written by the person who is going to write your exam! But often, a professor will release only one or two exams. What do you do then?
- Remember those hypos from class your professor gave? Even if a professor doesn’t release sample answers, you can often practice writing out answers to some hypotheticals they covered in class. Often those hypotheticals will be similar to the types of issues (and ambiguities) that you will see on the exam!
- Academic support programs often have sample questions: Depending on the school, the academic support program will release either actual past exam questions and answers or other practice questions they think will be representative of what an exam from a given professor would look like. They are frequently experts on the professors at your law school. Ask them for help!
- Supplements: Many supplements have short hypotheticals that you can practice writing out answers to. One popular supplement is Examples and Explanations. Or what if you are taking a subject that is tested on the bar exam of your state? Past bar questions are a great way to gather fact patterns for practice. If you live in California, the bar covers 13 subjects (depending on how you count them) — hours of practicing! Just ask your law librarian where to find bar exam review books.
- Write your own: One way to truly appreciate your knowledge of the material is to write your own hypothetical. Or get in a group and each write one and exchange what you come up with. That will give you practice thinking like a professor and thinking like a student — both very worthwhile activities.
No student should ever feel like there isn’t enough practice out there for an exam.
With a little creativity you will never run out of opportunities to practice exam writing before test day!
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