- One further point with take-home exams, the quality of your writing must be better than what would be expected of you on a timed, in-school exam (whether open or closed book). The professors who use take-home exams do so, I think to try to eliminate or at least minimalize the time pressure on the exam. For this reason, they may fairly expect a higher quality of writing in your answers than is expected on an exam where the students are under a considerable time pressure. So, write nicely on your take-home exam and leave time to edit your answers (especially when you are using your computer).
- Very rarely professors will give the even less satisfactory and truly pernicious take home exam. Usually these exams are to be completed outside school (hence the name) and have some long time limit ( ., 24 to 28 hours). Because they cannot be proctored, take home exams are open book exams with little or no limitation on what you may consult. These exams are not really exams at all but far more closely resemble papers that must be prepared within a given time limit. Do not get wired on caffeine and write frantically for the full twenty-four hours! View these exams as short research papers. Spend a couple of hours preparing your outline on the topic of the exam. Often much of the authority you need is either supplied with the exam by the professor or is found on certain recommended pages of your class materials. After looking over the relevant material, follow the same basic procedure you used for the hypothetical fact pattern essay question: draw up a skeletal and ultimately more...
- Many students try to use the whole take-home period to write some rambling, incoherent, desperate course synopsis. (I do not use take home exams and I pity any professor who does. What a lot of garbage that professor will be treated to as holiday or summer reading!) Again, treat the take home exam as the assignment of a short paper with limited research to be completed within a given time limit.
- My own experience suggests that open book exams are a bad idea for all parties concerned. Professors unconsciously tend to require more time-consuming work on open book exams on the theory that no prior memorization is required. In fact, the time pressure on open book exams is usually far greater than on comparable closed book exams. Thus, I advise you to study just as you would for a closed book exam. Keep in mind my motto as you prepare for an open book exam: “If you have to open that book during the exam, you are in trouble.”
- An open book examination is given in an examination room and is to be completed within a set time (usually the same length of time as a comparable closed book exam). The only difference from the classic closed book exam is that the professor will permit you to consult the casebook and your notes and study aids during the exam. Usually you may not consult commercial outlines, noncourse books, or other students’ notes. The concept of the open book exam, as I understand it, is to reduce the reward for sheer memorization and increase the reward for good analysis. But beware: My own experience both taking and occasionally (very rarely now) giving open book exams is that there is still a tremendous time pressure to complete the examination. The open book exam may lull you into thinking that you do not need to study or memorize anything before the exam because you can refer to your books and notes. The reality is that there is not time to do much consultation of notes if you hope to...
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Review and Conclusion 6 results (showing 5 best matches)
- moment they hand out the exam, begins to write and write and write and write. The table or desk will shake frantically, his knee will pump up and down, and you may be spooked. There he is writing, writing, writing, and you are thinking, “I guess I’ll IRAC; I should outline, but he’s
- IX. In studying for exams,
- Do not let this unnerving experience shake your game plan. Stick with the IRAC system. Take it from me; for forty years I have been reading what that student has been writing, writing, writing. It’s bilge, it’s unorganized garbage, it’s something like: “There are a lot of interesting contracts. There were some in Egypt, some in Rome. I even saw one last night on television. Let me tell you about that, etc., etc., etc.” I know that it is truly disconcerting to have the student next to you begin to write from the start. If this does happen to you (and my experience is that sooner or later it will), do not panic; do not abandon your organizing time. Just take a deep breath as the table shakes, lean back and think as you glance at this utterly flustered person, “That’s one person I’m gonna beat for sure!” because with this system you will.
- writing your answer:
- VI. In writing your answer, state all the component issues of the major issue. Dismiss the nondebatable issues by application to the facts. IRAC the remaining debatable issues.
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Section 1 - Secret #1: The Three Keys to Handling Any Essay Exam Question 7 results (showing 5 best matches)
- The average student cracks open the exam, reads through the first question, and without further ado, writes an answer. If you do not wish to be an average (or below average) student, resist the temptation to follow that course. Instead, begin your exam with the three tasks above.
- So much depends on your examination results that you must prepare yourself mentally and perhaps even physically for the ordeal of your first year exams. The sooner you begin looking beyond the minutiae of the casebook to organize your notes around the most important major issues of the course, the better off you will be as exams draw near. Nothing maximizing your scores on law school exams so much as “that instinct for the capillaries,” the obsession with smaller and smaller details at the expense of the big picture of the course. One look at the typical examination format will demonstrate my point.
- The focus on your examinations will be different. Law school exams assume your ability to read and brief a case. Thus, they test your understanding of the legal principles by requiring you to analyze and apply those principles to hypothetical fact situations. This means that as exams approach, you do not want to study in ever finer detail the assigned cases; on the contrary, what you need for success on your examinations is the big picture of the course. You must understand
- THE EXAM
- book examination. These types of exam questions will be discussed later in this book.
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Section 6 - Secret #6: Writing a Winning Exam Answer Every Time 25 results (showing 5 best matches)
- The principal theme of this book is that organization is crucial to success on law school examinations. The paramount difference between “C” exams and “A” exams is not so much how many legal rules and principles the student has memorized, as how well organized is the presentation of what the student knows. Organization and cogent presentation are hallmarks of a first-rate law school exam. The more clearly you can demonstrate your organization the better. Every good examination displays its organization early in an answer and then follows that organization throughout the written response. Nearly all students will spot obvious issues and articulate some rules. Organization and application distinguish the top exams from the run of the mill exams; therefore, spending 15 to 20 minutes evolving a working outline of the answer is essential.
- For most students today the handwriting problem has been eliminated by the growing use of computers to take exams. Some schools require students to use computers for exams. The reason is very simple: A computer-generated exam can be graded much more quickly than one that is handwritten in blue books. Other schools allow, but do not require, the use of computers. (At our school, computers may be used but are not mandated. In my fall 2006 class of 159 students, only six used blue books.) If you are going to use your computer for exams, it is important for you to realize that while computer generated exams can be a joy to grade, they will reveal weaknesses vividly. With a computer exam, missing analysis or improper application stands out starkly—every weakness is quickly evident and you need a clear, cogent, complete outline of your answer before you being to write.
- Finally, as I have said, do not write in big letters “TIME” at the end of an incomplete response indicating that you have run out of time to finish the answer. Why not? First, if you use the system I have presented, you will set and adhere to your External Time Allocation; therefore, you will always have time to write cogent answers to all questions on the exam.
- This next technique for good exam writing may surprise many of you. Do not try to be cute or make jokes on law school examinations. No matter that your professor was consistently funny in class or that the exam questions are drafted in a witty or amusing way. No professor wants you to adopt a flippant or offhand manner in writing the answers to the exam. Fundamentally, law school
- While I advise a “lawyerlike” presentation, do not misunderstand me. You should not use the silly legalisms you have heard on television or elsewhere in writing your examination answers. Do not write: “The …”; or other legalese nonsense. Like many graders of exams, I am a great admirer of Professor Wydick’s book (Carolina Academic Press, 1985).] Thus, another technique for receiving the maximum score on an exam is to write your answers in clear, cogent, simple English, and do not use legalisms or slang.
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Section 5 - Secret #5: The Hidden Traps to “IRAC” That Most Students Miss 10 results (showing 5 best matches)
- you believe applicable to the issue you have just spotted. Here for example: In certain circumstances, contracts must be in writing under the Statute of Frauds unless they come within a recognized exception to the writing requirement. The rule that you state may be a black letter legal principle some related discipline such as economics. Some main points to remember here are that: (1) rules can and should be learned in advance of the exam, but (2) knowing a bunch of rules from a hornbook or outline will get you a high grade on law school exams. Some of your classmates will learn all of the rules before the exam and regurgitate them in an unorganized and thoughtless way on the exam; they will get mediocre grades. The key to success is how well you organize your presentation of the rules you know and, as the next step in the IRAC system requires, how well you show the application of the rule to the question’s set of facts.
- failure of this contract to be in writing is probably immaterial as it falls within an exception to the Statute of Frauds for part performance. A few words of caution about conclusions: (1) never be too conclusionary—leave yourself some room to explore other issues; and (2) never reach a conclusion without going through the other IRAC steps. In this latter regard, a law school examination is a bit like an old high school math test. You cannot get credit unless you show your “work,” ., how the conclusion was reached. The conclusion on a law school exam cannot be considered correct unless your discussion demonstrates why.
- Clients want their attorneys to say, “Don’t worry about a thing, sir or madam; no just society would ever find a contract on your set of facts.” But that is not what attorneys tell their clients. What assessment do attorneys give? “Well, it could be this way; on the other hand, it could be that way.” This ambivalence is one reason that your parents and other clients are often exasperated by an attorney’s advice. So, when you write “No just society, etc.,” you do not sound like an attorney and your law school exam will suffer accordingly. Remember, there are mighty few attorneys in those big downtown office buildings assuring their clients “No just society etc.”, so you shouldn’t either. It is time you begin to sound like an attorney if you aspire to be one.
- This, then, is the IRAC technique. Integrating IRAC for each debatable issue or heading of your skeletal outline gives you a final outline from which to write the answer. Again, no more than 15 to 20 minutes should be required to construct a well-organized final outline from which to write your response.
- Then, stop here. Reach no conclusion at all. Move on to the next issue and let the reader reach the conclusion. Conclusions are not the key to success on law school exams. Spotting issues and applying whatever rules you assert to the facts your professor presents are the real skills that produce high grades.
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Section - Secret #2: Adding Points to Your Score by Making Time Work For You, Not Against You 16 results (showing 5 best matches)
- Finally, even if you are so flustered under the pressures of taking the examination that you both violate the External Time Allocation and fail to outline, you still should not scrawl an excuse that includes the word “TIME” at the end of an incomplete answer. Why? No law professor was ever promoted or given a professional honor based on how he or she grades. Grading is a task that many law professors undertake reluctantly. For myself, I so enjoy teaching and so loathe grading exams that I often view my whole salary as paid solely to grade the exams. Only with each exam viewed this way can I survive the awesome grading process in large classes. Thus, you will have no sympathy from law professors like me for running out of time. The exam was designed specifically to test your ability to manage the time allotted to answer the questions. Furthermore, I teach Criminal Procedure and so do not believe in public confession. Do you see the point? Some examiners read exams so fast, they might...
- Thus, you must make the External Time Allocations and be rigorous in adhering to it. That’s easy to agree to as you calmly read this book while preparing for examinations. Talk is cheap when planning exam strategy, but once in the stressful environment of the exam room, many well-laid plans go awry. What you should do is make an appropriate External Time Allocation and observe your time limits. What if you meant to follow your External Time Allocation but in the heat of the examination you write one hour and a half on the first question, abridging your External Time Allocation? Can you be saved or is all hope of a good grade lost? Don’t throw in the towel just yet. While you may not get the best grade on the exam, you can still have a presentable paper if you outline your answers to the final two questions rather than attempt complete essay answers. You must complete the exam in any event, and having exceeded your time limit on the first question, you should immediately plan to...
- First of all, you will avoid this time disaster because you will have made the External Time Allocation and will have adhered faithfully to it, allowing you to write three neat, well-organized essays. If somehow you have abridged the External Time Allocation on one question, you will outline your answers to the remaining questions so that you can present a completed exam.
- The first thing I advise you to do as soon as the exam is handed out is to make what I call the External Time Allocation—that is, the allocation of time among the questions on the exam. As soon as you are instructed to begin the exam, do read the exam—just glance at it to determine how many questions there are, what their relative worth is, and how long you have to complete the exam. From this data assign a certain amount of the total time to each question. This is the all-important External Time Allocation. You should try to stick with your projected times religiously.
- First, you are probably overwriting the answer if you take twice the amount of time you should have to produce it. Second, many professors take the attitude that other students could have discussed the issues in the first question in more detail had they taken two hours to do it. Third and most telling, many professors grade each question separately so they don’t know what you wrote in answer to the first question when they are grading the other examination questions. There is, in other words, no “Halo Effect” from one question to another on law school exams.
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Section 4 - Secret #4: Organizing Your Answer for Maximum Possible Points 10 results (showing 5 best matches)
- Consider the following example, which is considerably shorter and simpler than the hypothetical fact patterns you will most likely see on your examinations. Although this set of facts is easier than you should expect, the concepts of exam writing that I explain in organizing this fairly simple problem will be identical to those you use on more complex hypotheticals. Thus, I can teach the concepts from this simple problem; you can practice with more complex examples by doing the problems in the Appendix to this book or your professor’s past exam questions as you prepare for your exams. No matter how complex the fact pattern of the question, use the same system of organization.
- Finally, as a glance at the “About the Author” note will show, I do not teach Contracts. I teach Criminal Procedure; Gifts, Wills and Trusts; and Children in the Legal System. All I recall about the law of contracts stems from my own first year course many (many) years ago. So if something I write about the substantive law of contracts does not jibe with what you have been learning, do not go into a dither. I am not trying to teach you contracts; I am teaching you a technique for writing law school examinations. Don’t worry if some of what I say about contracts, in analyzing our paradigm question, does not agree with what you have been taught. The exam taking concepts are the focus here—not my discussion of the law of contracts.
- In organizing, make a distinction between criminal law and torts examinations and all other exams. In criminal law and torts exams, hypothetical fact pattern essay questions usually present a series of transactions. In multiple transaction questions, initially organize your answer . For example, on a torts exam, you might encounter the following fact pattern:
- 3. U.C.C.—No Writing For Goods Under $500; Over $500 Requires a Writing Except:
- In contrast to criminal law and torts exams, other examinations usually present a chronological recitation of facts that are all part of a
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Section 3 - Secret #3: Flawless Issue Spotting—The Crucial First Step For Top Exam Performance 7 results (showing 5 best matches)
- This choice point raises a larger issue worth mentioning here. There is a dramatic difference between the atmosphere in which you are reading this book and the atmosphere in an examination room. It is easy in the peace and calm of your own study room to promise yourself that you will use a particular exam strategy. It is quite another thing to stick with (or even remember) your strategy when you begin to get those hot flashes and cold sweats on the day of the exam. So I offer certain choices for you to make while you are taking the exam. The first: If you do not feel comfortable with the first question, immediately move on to the other questions and come back after you have written those answers.
- The reason that you do not want to muck around on a question (sometimes for longer than your External Time Allocation) is that you may never write a good answer to that question and meanwhile you are upsetting your composure so that you do not present your best effort on the remaining questions, which may otherwise have been easy for you. My own experience suggests that passing over a question that troubles you has a second benefit. Once you have written pretty good answers to the other questions, and the exam jitters have abated, you can usually go back to the troubling question with a confidence that will oftentimes clear up your confusion. Sometimes, having some good answers finished helps you understand the point of the troublesome question and allows you to write an acceptable response.
- Even if you could read all of the questions in less than one minute, it is still unwise to read the whole exam because it can cause . This probably happened to you at one time or another on your undergraduate exams. You read question one—just what you thought would be asked. Question two—easy. But, oh-oh! Question three—what on earth is that about? Your anxiety over question three may well poison your answers to the first two questions even though you know those topics well. So don’t read the entire exam before you start; just go to the first question.
- At this point many people who teach examination skills would urge you to begin your ordeal by reading the entire exam. This is wrong. read the whole test before you begin. Why not? Primarily because it wastes time. You already know about the considerable time pressure on law school exams. You do not have time to sit there reading the examination as if it were a newspaper. Therefore, I urge you to start with question one and answer the questions in the order in which they are presented.
- No sooner do I suggest that you question the question than I can foresee some of you overdoing it. For example, if, on the criminal law exam, the professor says the person is dead, do not question that. Don’t wonder “Can we believe it? What if he weren’t dead?” Don’t get carried away here. Respect your professor’s facts, and question only the relevance of those facts.
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Section 7 - Secret #7: Preparation—The Detective Work You Need to Do to Determine What Your Professor Will Test On Your Exam 12 results (showing 5 best matches)
- The first question has been addressed in Secret #6: Writing a Winning Exam Answer Every Time, but there seems so much anxiety and confusion on this point that it may bear repeating. In general, you are not going to use case names or case authority unless your professor asks you to do so or when that case name provides a shorthand way of referring to a particular legal issue, violation. That is why, in studying for exams, you should concentrate on the principles of the course and not the cases.
- How can you find out what your professor is most likely to test you on? There are three ways and you must use all these avenues if the system is going to work for you. First, ascertain what your professor writes about or is involved in. Past and present scholarly interest is an excellent guide to discovery of likely exam questions. Most law school professors do a great deal more than teach class. They are actively engaged in the scholarly tradition of the university. If your Contracts professor has written several articles on consideration and is now working on another, what do you think she is likely to ask on the exam? If the professor must read over and over again a discussion of some issue, it is a good bet that she will prefer an issue—in our example, consideration—that she finds intrinsically interesting.
- In addition to writing interests and expertise, litigation interest may also provide an insight. If your professor is enmeshed in litigation about the part performance exception to the Statute of Frauds, expect something on that on the exam. Thus, the first clue to a professor’s intellectual
- any available copies of that professor’s past exams. Past exams are an excellent guide to the future. Many professors are far more innovative, inventive, and clever than I am about exam drafting. Still, I find there is ultimately only so much the professor can ask about on an exam. Thus, many of us give ourselves away on our past exams. A thorough analysis of your professor’s past exams will surely show a pattern of which topics he or she finds more significant. Further, the professor’s past exams may well reveal his or her preferred question formats; perhaps indicative of the style of exam you will be given.
- in studying for and writing law school exams.
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Summary of Contents 6 results (showing 5 best matches)
- Section 6 - Secret #6: Writing a Winning Exam Answer Every Time
- Section 1 - Secret #1: The Three Keys to Handling Any Essay Exam Question
- Section 3 - Secret #3: Flawless Issue Spotting—The Crucial First Step For Top Exam Performance
- Section 7 - Secret #7: Preparation — The Detective Work You Need to Do to Determine What Your Professor Will Test On Your Exam
- Section 8 - Secret #8: How to Ace Any Unusual Exam Your Professor Might Throw At You: Open Book, Take Home, Multiple Choice, Short Answer, and Policy Questions
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Appendix: Sample Exam Questions and Model Answers 16 results (showing 5 best matches)
- Finally, Art may allege that he did not have an absolute duty to perform because the written memorandum required Coll to tender $26,000 rather than $25,000. However, the facts indicate that the figure was a typographical error by Art’s secretary, and Coll will be able to show this despite the existence of the writing. Under the parol evidence rule, where the parties to an integrated agreement reduce it to writing, extrinisic evidence of prior or contemporaneous agreements is inadmissible to vary the terms of the writing. However, the rule does not preclude of the agreement where an antecedent agreement was incorrectly reflected in the writing. Here, Coll may introduce evidence that the writing is in error and that the agreed figure was $25,000.
- Seler, a citizen of State S, and Byer, a citizen of State B, met in State B and signed a written contract by which Seler agreed to sell Whiteacre, located in State W, to Byer. The contract as written provided that the purchase price of Whiteacre was $85,000. Seler returned to State S and sent Byer a deed conveying good title to Whiteacre.
- Appendix: Sample Exam Questions and Model Answers
- Coll received the document on October 17. He telephoned Art that day and said, “I accept your offer and will pick up the painting on November 1.” Coll did not sign the writing or return it to Art. The $26,000 figure in the writing was a typographical error made by Art’s secretary. Neither Art nor Coll had noticed that the figure was $26,000, rather than the $25,000 they had specified in their October 15 telephone conversation.
- On March 1, 2004, when Alfred wrote his will, he owned U.S. bonds worth $20,000, State X bonds worth $30,000, and State Z bonds worth $50,000. When Alfred died in 2007, all of these bonds were still registered in his name and had never been out of his possession.
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- Publication Date: October 30th, 2007
- ISBN: 9780314183583
- Subject: Academic Success
- Series: Career Guides
- Type: Academic/Prof. Development
- Description: This work teaches the eight secrets that will add points to every exam answer you write. You will learn the three keys to handling any essay exam, how to use time to your advantage, issue spotting, how to organize your answer, and the hidden traps of the IRAC method. Once you have mastered these skills, you can put your knowledge to the test with sample exam questions and check your answers against those provided. A special section on how to do well on other types of exams, such as open-book, multiple-choice, or policy exams, is also included.