Writing law school essay exams

How to Write a Law School Exam Answer

If you are to improve your grades, you must bring these types of arguments to the surface by being explicit in your writing and analysis, since a professor cannot award points for something that is not written on the paper. To maximize your points, you must use the facts rather than gloss over them or argue them without reference to the law. An example might help. First, you must use the fact that Jacob voluntarily entered the bathroom. Second, you must use the fact that Max only pretended to lock the door.

Third, you must use the fact that Max made an ambiguous threat. Neither do you discuss the law without referring to the actual fact pattern.

How To Write A Law School Exam Answer - JD Advising, LLC.

Instead, you need to do both somewhat simultaneously, since law becomes relevant only when it is placed in a particular factual context. Notice this example relies on terms of art i. When you finish your essay, few facts should be left on the table.

If a professor puts a fact in a question, the fact is usually there for a reason. Learning to overcome submarine arguments takes time, and this short discussion has mentioned only one of the various techniques that you can and should use in your law school essays. When seeking to improve your writing, it is often helpful to see detailed examples of how other students have used the IRAC technique to maximize points.

Strong, that not only provides detailed instructions on how to excel on law school exams but that also includes numerous sample essays, written by actual students.

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Writing Essay Exams to Succeed in Law School (Not Just to Survive)

By reading the in-depth, line-by-line critiques of those materials, you can see how to improve your own writing, thereby earning the kinds of grades you want. It brings together a diversity of opinions, experiences, and voices from those associated with the law anywhere in the world and is targeted to law students, current, past and future. Unless stated, the opinions shared by our writers do not reflect the official position of the American Bar Association.

Before the Bar Guidelines Become a Contributor. Here is an explanation of the different types and some tips to help you prepare.

Open Book, Open Notes

For this type of exam, still create an outline, but memorize it. You might get to use your code book so integrate that into your outline. Also, tabs are your best friend here.


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Also check with your professor about what, if any notes you can have in the codebook. The key here is to take a lot of practice exams.

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Your notes and outline are the most useful thing here. If your school allows it, try to pre-write the rules like you might on the exam and have them in your outline.

Double check with your professor if this is ok. All of mine were fine with this, just no copy and pasting into Exam4, which is our test-taking software. The thing is here, make sure you have gone through your outline a lot. As a general note, you want all of your outlines done a few weeks before finals, and if you update them weekly, you can get there.

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Doing this will also help you create an attack or checklist outline. These types of tests can be dangerous. Sure, looking something up can be helpful, but it can also be a time suck!


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Anything out in the universe is just a bonus. WOW… I liked this exam type. I felt like I did well because of the time given and my level of preparation. Oddly because I had so much information available, I seemed to have reviewed everything more carefully while preparing for the exam. During the exam, I actually had time to look at my full outline and confirm questions or ambiguities in my notes with the textbook.