Saturday, April 12, 2014

Junior's First Exam

Well, it's almost exam time at most law schools, and by the end of this week, I have to turn in my first exam to the registrar.  I'm teaching Securities Litigation, and it's mostly a lecture course - the first time I've ever taught.  I knew writing an exam would be difficult, but I didn't anticipate all of the types of issues I would experience. 

Mostly, I'm trying to develop one or two solid issue-spotter-type questions for them to examine. 

The first and most obvious concern is making sure that it has varying levels of difficulty, so that it distinguishes between students who are better and less-well prepared.

Additionally, since I haven't done this before, I need to make sure that it takes the right amount of time to complete - it's an 8 hour take home; I'm guessing that erring on the shorter side is preferable to longer, since I'm likely to underestimate the difficulty of the material.

I also find, as I develop the fact pattern, that it really forces me to confront which areas we did not cover extensively, and which areas we did (thus perhaps offering a guide for edits to the syllabus in the future) - for example, I keep discarding potential scenarios because I realize they would implicate too many issues we only touched on tangentially.

Part of the difficulty, I think, is that because the course is Securities Litigation, it includes both substantive securities doctrine, and a some civil procedure issues as they arise in the securities context.  It's difficult to develop a realistic fact pattern that directs them toward precisely the topics we've covered without implicating the topics - particularly civil procedure topics - we have not covered. 

Ultimately, I think I will have to sacrifice some degree of realism in order to make sure that the students' attention is directed in the right place, and I don't inadvertently end up testing them on how well they remember Civil Procedure topics they covered in other classes, but we did not discuss in my class.

Also, I have to just accept that there will be some parts of the course that simply won't be on the exam.  So be it.

Ann Lipton | Permalink


One way I sometimes deal with tangential issues is to tell them to ignore them, or to put them in a setting where someone (a partner in their firm?) has asked them to address a particular set of issues and nothing else.

Posted by: Steve Bradford | Apr 12, 2014 6:11:09 AM

Thanks! That's probably what I'll end up doing, after I've reconfigured the problem as much as I can!

Posted by: Ann Lipton | Apr 12, 2014 6:46:11 AM

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