Monday, November 22, 2010

Exam Tip from a Professor

Law school exams are unlike exams from other fields. (If you haven't seen any before, take a look at the library's exam archive.) What are you supposed to do with the long hypothetical in an exam? A civil procedure professor writes that professors are trying to get students to:
Know the rules. Give a complete and correct statement of the relevant rules. Use the facts. Don’t just repeat the facts. Argue specific facts in the context of specific rules to persuade the reader. Reach a conclusion.
And she adds: "It’s easy to say, and hard to do." She describes a technique she teaches her students to help them sort out the legal rules and the facts they will use. Elizabeth Pendo, Breaking Down the Blank Page: A Technique for Outlining Essay Questions, The Law Teacher, Fall 2010, at 3. She says her technique helps her students -- maybe it will help you too!

Graphic from Clipart ETC (Source: Good Cheer for 1890: Stories for Young Folks (Boston: D. Lothrop Company, 1889) 88). According to the caption, the woman is writing a letter, not an outline of a law school exam answer, but who's to say? Maybe her letter was analyzing competing claims to Blackacre or remedies for a breach of contract.

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