Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Practice Tools for Approaching Law School Final Exams

As indicated in yesterday's wonderful post by Professor Nancy Luebett, one of the key steps for successfully preparing for final exams is to practice final exams. https://lapproaching-your-first-law-school-final.html. And, the best sources for practice exams are your professors' past exams.

But, what if your professor is new to the law school or there simply aren't many old exams available?  

Well, there are a number of sources for free practice essay problems.  

Here are a few to get you going:

First, you might dig into essays published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).  The NCBE maintains links for a number of retired past essay questions that are available free of charge (the more recent are only available by purchase).  I recommend sticking to the free materials.  Each essay question packet also contains analysis of what the examiners were looking for in good quality answers, so the materials are quite helpful in assessing and improving your own problem-solving abilities.  Unfortunately, the essays are not easily identified by subject matter.  It requires a bit of trial and error to match up the subjects that you are taking as a first-year law student with the essays asked in the past on that subject.  But, below is subject matter table that can help.  Just find the subject and the bar exam month and year that it was tested and then find the bar exam question and answer packet for that particular bar exam using the following link: http://www.ncbex.org/exams/mee/preparing/

Second, if you want to work through a number of shorter hypothetical essays, the University of Denver maintains - free of charge - a repository of retired Colorado bar exam essays.  But, please be careful as the law might have changed.  You'll notice that the essays are arranged by exam date and then again by subject matter.  And, there's more great news.  The essays contain point sheets with short answer discussions to help you assess your own learning.  Here's the link for the old Colorado essays: https://www.law.du.edu/coloradoessays

Finally, I like to look through past California bar exam essays.  California provides both past bar exam essay questions (with good passing answers) along with first-year law student exam questions.  The first-year law school questions cover contracts, torts, and criminal law.  But, please be aware that the answers provided are not model answers.  Here's the link for past California first-year exam essays and answers: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/pastfirstyearexams. In addition, here's the link for past California bar exam essays and answers: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/pastbarexamessays 

One last thought...

No one learns to fly or play the piano or dance...without practice...lots of practice.  

Similarly, to prepare for final exams takes practicing final exams.  So, instead of re-reading your notes or memorizing your outlines, focus first and foremost on taking your notes and outlines for practice test flights, using them as your "go-to" tools to work through lots of past exam questions.  And, along the way, guess what?  You'll actually begin to memorize your notes and outlines because you've been using them as learning tools rather than rote memorization tools.  Good luck on your final exams! (Scott Johns).

MEE Essay Subjects List

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2018/11/practice-tools-to-help-in-approaching-your-first-law-school-final-exam.html

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