Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Winter Olympics and ASP

I’ve been using a lot of cold weather sports analogies lately in discussing study habits and exams with students. I think it is the result of the Winter Olympics pre-empting my normal Law & Order three times a week schedule, but there are some truths to be found in the winter games.

Think about it: exams start and end with the same amount of fanfare (ok, we don’t have fireworks, but there is a real sense of tension and when exams are over, the celebration is enormous but similarly not well remembered the next day…). There is a lot of sweating involved. It seems that all of our competitors, I mean students, in law school are living under one roof during exams (known as the Library or Study Village).

Here are some more examples of how law school is like the Winter Olympics from the ASP point of view.  Feel free to use these gems with your students and you too could earn a Gold Medal for odd analogies.

For example, I have been telling students that their exam issue spotting is a lot like the Giant Slalom. That is, they need to hit every gate and do it in a fairly artful way. Not only that, but they will be timed and that timing is key because they need to finish the exams.

Exam writing, however, is more like Speed Skating. You should be IRAC’ing each issue you spotted on the way down the mountain like a speed skater who is circling the track: the same way each time around. Also, your answers, like the circular track, must be complete in that they cover the defenses and counterarguments.

Outlining is a lot like Board-Cross. It combines two different events essentially: reading and class. There are few rules, but you should try to organize yourself around the law (or laws of physics…).

Multiple choice questions are lot like Luge. Stay on course: once you think you have the right answer, stick with it. The other answers are supposed to look compelling, but they are, in fact, a cold hard wall.

Practice exams are like the qualifying runs for Skiing. They should let you know if you are hitting your timing and style correctly.

Take-home (and open book) exams are a lot like Curling. You think it will be simple and easier, but it is not. You are expected to be more precise than on any other type of exam.

Study groups should never be like Ice-Dancing, but more like Figure Skating. Why? You should never rely on anyone else to hold you up or worse yet, throw you. If you don’t know the law yourself, then you can’t answer the questions .

Figure Skating is also a lot like the exams themselves: even if you practice well, you might still fall on your…., umm, ice. (ezs)

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