Friday, October 21, 2011

Practice Exams Given by 1L Professors

We are entering the time period at our law school when many of our first-year professors in the doctrinal courses give their students practice exams.  The exam feedback varies by professor: some give students "grades" (check-plus, check, check-minus, for example).  Some professors review the exams in class and hand out an answer key.  Exams are usually one fact pattern if essay; they are 10-15 questions if multiple-choice.  Some professors will write combination exams.

It always surprises me how many of our first-year students do not take full advantage of these opportunities.  Some students choose not to take the practice exams.  Those students will go into the final exam without any experience of a law school exam.  Some students who take the exams do not study for them at all.  Those students often excuse their poor performance with "If I had studied, I would have gotten a good grade."  However, that statement may not be true at all - they will never know.

Practice exams allow students to monitor several things for fact-pattern essay exams:

  • Do they understand the material as well as they thought?
  • Are they able to spot the issues?
  • Can they precisely state the rules?
  • Are they able to write an organized answer applying the law to the facts with arguments for both parties?
  • Can they perform well under timed conditions?

Practice exams allow students to monitor several things for multiple-choice exams:

  • Do they understand the material as well as they thought?
  • Can they recognize the nuances in the law when choosing a "best" answer?
  • Can they perform well under timed conditions?

Students often talk about wanting feedback so that they know how they are doing.  Hopefully more students will realize that practice exams allow them to gain feedback - even if it is not of the graded variety (Amy Jarmon)

 

 

 

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