Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Law School Exams for Dummies

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is JCrew Model's exam "advice". You can read my previous advice here, and here. - Rule 12(f)

You may have heard exams are approaching. As UVA Law Blog’s other resident expert on all things and the second biggest know-it-all among the editors on this blog, I thought you all might enjoy a couple hundred words on how to take and pass law school exams. 1Ls will appreciate seeing behind the “law school exam” curtain and maybe 2Ls and 3Ls will appreciate the reminders. Or at least you’ll have another opportunity to bash me in the comments (liked the “douchnozzle” attack – maybe you could follow up by describing how that makes me different than a "douchebag" - - - By the way I can’t reveal exactly why I’m allowed to continue posting here, but it has something to do with very impressive feats of man.)

Now that we've cleared that up, here’s a rough approximation about how you can get a B+ grade or at least that your grade will be a letter that may or may not be followed by a mathematical operation. And no, you can’t get a Tx or a L/. Idiot.

Before the Exam

The first key to a successful exam is a successful outline. Some follow the strategy of getting all one’s most skilled acquaintances together and compiling a super awesome study team. This team would be, say, an impressive array of high-achievers who can help you put together a lengthy, beautiful, and Law Review-publication quality outline. Unfortunately, come exam time, your teammates aren’t there to help you and you’re stuck with a largely incomprehensible and unusable 100 page document. Instead, I suggest you use outlining as an extended study opportunity and that you whittle your outline down to 10-20 pages.

Also, take any practice exams you can get your hands on. This gets you in the mood of legal thinking/writing and tests your understanding of the subject. If you’re flipping aimlessly through your outline on a practice go-around, you’re not ready to take the exam. By the way, this means that you should not spend the night before the exam trying to decipher your notes. As the classic NBA motto goes on the advantages of picking up the big man way before he gets on the block (generally somewhere between the 3 point line and the top of the key), “do your work early.”

Exam Day

Go to the exam. This is crucial to passing exams. Nobody has ever passed an exam class without going to the exam. This also means that you know when you can take the exam. Don’t try to take a flex exam on the last Thursday morning for instance. When your chosen day rolls around, post up with all your stuff before you check out your exam. Pile up all your crap on the table (water, gum, pens, highlighters, lip gloss, Clif Bar) and spread out – if people can sit within two spaces of you in either direction, retreat to the bookstore and buy more things. Open a plain document and put your ID exam number in the heading. Have a thumb drive to back your exam. In sum, ensure you’re ready to start examing the moment you sit down with your exam.

Answer all of the questions. This strategy gives you the best chance of achieving a prestigious B+. Some follow the strategy of not answering all the questions, but some people eat lead paint chips and some people voted for George Bush twice (“Oh no he didn’t. Time to rage in the comments about the media’s political bias!”). More subtly and on a related note, make sure you don’t run out of time. The best way to do this is by not just standing there dumbly while the seconds tick off and the blank document awaits your answer.

For the substance of the exam, write correct, concise, and thoughtful answers. Not going to lie, even as a 3L I’m still unclear how this works. I DO know that recounting the facts of a torts case and using bold font for the words “substantive due process” do not work. Also, don’t resist the hypothetical. If the hypothetical tells you to do something, peacefully comply.

Finally, follow Rule 12(f)’s motto: hit control-s as much as possible. Like every sentence or so. If you’re not typing answers or thinking or reading, you should be hitting control-s.

After the Exam

After an exam, give yourself a little time to relax. I usually take a nap, get in some exercise, and hit up a local all-you-can-eat buffet. Going from the exam room to the library (without a pit stop to Asian Fusion buffet) is a great way to burn out by the first Thursday. Resist the urge to stage your own personal Bar Review – you’ll need those brain cells for tomorrow’s studying.

Good luck to everyone unless you’re in one of my classes. And don’t stress too much – you’ll all get jobs. Oh, wait...

Exam Advice for 1Ls
The True Gunner Never Takes His Fingers Too Far From Control + S
How to Ace Con Law


Anonymous said...

I guess you voted for Carter...err...Obama. How's that working out for you?

Anonymous said...

How was this post political at all?

Anonymous said...

"but some people eat lead paint chips and some people voted for George Bush twice"

Anonymous said...

Oh, guess that's what I get for skimming.

Anonymous said...

Voting for Obama is good. for your sake, 10:04, I will frame it as: He is passing socialized medicine. But truth is that is what this country needs. Personally, I want him to nationalize healthcare entirely and think this is not far enough, but its a good start.

You want political? eat that.

Anonymous said...

12:52, meet Karl Marx

Anonymous said...

not to say Obama is taking the country by storm, but how can anyone justify their vote for GW twice????

We're trillions of dollar in debt because of a pointless war and he choked on a pretzel.

Anonymous said...

12:52 - your writing ability is better than your political judgment.

Anonymous said...

Insurance exchange = socialized medicine ... but DON'T cut MEDICARE!!!! ... And DO cut MEDICAID!!!!


Govt spending ARE money on healthcare = facism/socialism and an infringement on ARE "liberty" ... BUT OK to spend TRILLIONS on war (in Iraq) that was a RACKET FROM THE START ... AND ok to spend 500 BILLION A YEAR on corrupt govt contracts!!!!

Does that about cover it, TEABAGGERS?

Anonymous said...


Lets hope you continue to use "are" instead of "our" on your exams. Should turn out well.

Anonymous said...

Damnit, the teabagger-guy (5:53)is back.

Anonymous said...

The anti-TEABAGGER guy, 6:40, get it right.

justincredible said...

why is this douche nozzle still allowed to post here?

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