Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advice to !L's taking their first exams

Although much of this advice is common sense, it's still worth repeating (and passing along to your students), as appropriate.  From the Lawyerist blog:

  1. Have a plan and try and stick to it.
  2. 2Ls and 3Ls are your best friends.
  3. Old exams are usually on reserve at the library.
  4. Listen to your professors.
  5. Clear your calendar of distractions.
  6. Adapt your study plan to fit your personality.

Click here to read a detailed explanation for each of these. 

Let me add my own bit of advice to the list; take as many practice exams as possible and do them under realistic, exam-like conditions.  There are always outliers on both ends of the grading curve; the "star" students who seem to have more insight than anyone else as well as those students who really struggle.  But what seems to separate everyone else from the pack is not their substantive knowledge or ability to issue-spot but the ability to write a well-organized, cogent answer under the time constraints of a final exam.  That means taking lots of practice exams beforehand (not just brainstorming about them but actually writing "practice" answers) and then on exam day, taking at least five to ten minutes after reading the question to outline your thoughts on a piece of scrap paper before beginning to write the answer.


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