Tools for Improving Your Grades on Law Exams | Summary and Q&A

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November 9, 2015
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YaleCourses
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Tools for Improving Your Grades on Law Exams

TL;DR

To succeed in issue spotting exams, create a major issue summary sheet, assess additional issues beyond the obvious ones, and decide whether to use the shotgun or rifle strategy based on your confidence and time constraints.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How can I prepare for an issue spotting exam?

One way to prepare is by creating a major issue summary sheet with the top 50 issues covered in the class. Assess whether each issue is raised by the exam question and decide which ones to focus on in your answer.

Q: What should I do during a time-constrained exam?

In timed exams, it may not be possible to fully discuss all potential issues. Consider using the shotgun strategy of addressing a large number of issues in less depth or the rifle strategy of addressing a smaller number of issues in more depth, depending on your confidence and understanding of what the professor is looking for.

Q: How can I make my answer more reader-friendly for the professor?

Use judicious underlining, bolding, or highlighting, and break your discussion of issues into separate paragraphs. This will make it easier for the professor to follow your argument and quickly extract the key information from your exam.

Q: Can I criticize arguments made by the professor in class?

Yes, you can criticize arguments made by the professor in class, but ensure that you regurgitate the professor's argument before critiquing it. Show that you attended class and understood the argument before presenting your counterpoints.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Prepare a major issue summary sheet with the top 50 issues covered in the class, and assess whether each issue is raised by the exam question.

  • On open-book exams, force yourself to consider additional potential issues, while on closed-book exams, try to memorize the list of potential issues.

  • Consider deploying the shotgun strategy (addressing many issues in less depth) for uncertain situations and the rifle strategy (addressing fewer issues in more depth) for more confident situations.

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