Posted: April 14th, 2016
Feeling overwhelmed with all the new information you’re learning in your classes? Not sure how you will be able to do well on your exams in law school? Performing well on law school exams is essential to law school, and exam writing is a “specialized art that takes skill and practice.”
Attorney, editor and legal writer Sally Kane shares 5 tips for crafting a successful law school exam response. Her advice provides some insight to students about how to demonstrate both substantive knowledge of the subject matter in written form.
- Plan your response
It’s hard to not get caught up in the “hurry up and start” pressure. Before starting immediately, plan an outlined response, which will help organize your thoughts and allow you to address the question clearly.
- Craft a well-organized essay
Clear and concise writing will gain you points even if you fail to spot all of the issues. By crafting a well-organized essay, you will make the professor’s job easier. With this being said, be sure to include an introduction stating the rule of law, supporting paragraphs that apply the rule and mention any counter-arguments.
- Remember “IRAC”
“Issue. Rule. Analysis. Conclusion.” This is the formula for law school writing exams which has been the most successful approach. Even if there is no clear answer, be sure to list several alternative conclusions and explain why each is logical.
- Review past exams
Many professors maintain a file of exams they have given in past years. While past exams don’t include the answers, they will give you an idea of the style and format of the professor’s exams. You can then brainstorm responses to the questions with other students. Some professors may even be willing to critique your answer or give advice on how to best answer the question.
- Budget your time
Oftentimes, professors may plant a difficult question in an exam to test the student’s ability to manage his or her time. There will be some questions on the exams will be harder to answer than others. Skip harder questions to spend time on the other questions.