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lightningboalt
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:41 pm

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Postby lightningboalt » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:05 pm

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Last edited by lightningboalt on Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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patrickd139
Posts: 2883
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:53 pm

Re: T10 top 25% -> top 10%?

Postby patrickd139 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:10 pm

You will probably get more responses if you pose your question in the correct forum. Nothing in your post directly deals with Legal Employment.

Substantively: ask professors to see examples of high grade exams from years past and study what makes them different from yours. Because of the inherent subjectivity of law school exam grading, few people here are going to know how to describe, cogently, how you should go about increasing your grades, at Berkeley, with specific professors at play, from the second highest grade to the highest grade.

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thesealocust
Posts: 8442
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: T10 top 25% -> top 10%?

Postby thesealocust » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:37 pm

Make sure you know the law cold - the organization of the course, the important rules, and how they relate to one another. On the exam waste no time regurgitating facts or stating the law without relating it to the facts at hand. Put yourself in the role of an advocate and get creative - you need to successfully spot the major issues and you need to tease out as many lines of analysis as possible. As you do it, make sure you evaluate the strengths of the arguments you're making, so that it's clear you know the difference between the strong and weak arguments both sides will present. You won't be able to do this without incorporating policy, but it should be flowing and natural - not a "policy section" or something.

Your exam should be littered with headings and proper organization, concise statements, legally operative phrases, and the phrases "_______ could argue. . ." + "On the other hand, ________ will argue/counter/point out/claim/respond. . ."

On the overwhelming majority of exams, you wind up getting roughly one point for each valid argument you make. So you have to avoid making invalid arguments (misreading facts, misunderstanding law), you have to think about all the law you covered in class to figure out what can be applicable, and you have to use all of the facts presented to build up, tear down, and evaluate what both sides would do given ample time to prepare and a day in court. If you find yourself making especially creative arguments, those themselves aren't worth bonus points and might not be worth points at all if they're a real stretch - but hopefully it will be because you quickly and thoroughly covered the more obvious and important ground.

Doing this doesn't take all that many words per minute, and even with a word limit it's the way you should approach it. But if there is no word limit, you also need to make sure you can do the above fast. Wrote typing speed is rarely the barrier: the better you know the law and have practiced doing exams, the less time you will have to spend leafing through an outline, thinking, organizing, and double checking - and the more time you can spend making and elaborating on arguments.

NB: None of that is "read an extra hornbook" - "get an outline from somebody who had the same professor last year" - "read all the cases twice" - or "make sure to brief using at least 20 different highlighters." Law school exam taking is a very specific skill that you are (a) never taught and (b) never receive solid feedback on, but it only relies on you knowing the law well enough to not make mistakes and not on your having mastered every fact of every case your professor assigned as reading.

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nevdash
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:01 pm

Re: T10 top 25% -> top 10%?

Postby nevdash » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:55 pm

thesealocust wrote:Make sure you know the law cold - the organization of the course, the important rules, and how they relate to one another. On the exam waste no time regurgitating facts or stating the law without relating it to the facts at hand. Put yourself in the role of an advocate and get creative - you need to successfully spot the major issues and you need to tease out as many lines of analysis as possible. As you do it, make sure you evaluate the strengths of the arguments you're making, so that it's clear you know the difference between the strong and weak arguments both sides will present. You won't be able to do this without incorporating policy, but it should be flowing and natural - not a "policy section" or something.

Your exam should be littered with headings and proper organization, concise statements, legally operative phrases, and the phrases "_______ could argue. . ." + "On the other hand, ________ will argue/counter/point out/claim/respond. . ."

On the overwhelming majority of exams, you wind up getting roughly one point for each valid argument you make. So you have to avoid making invalid arguments (misreading facts, misunderstanding law), you have to think about all the law you covered in class to figure out what can be applicable, and you have to use all of the facts presented to build up, tear down, and evaluate what both sides would do given ample time to prepare and a day in court. If you find yourself making especially creative arguments, those themselves aren't worth bonus points and might not be worth points at all if they're a real stretch - but hopefully it will be because you quickly and thoroughly covered the more obvious and important ground.

Doing this doesn't take all that many words per minute, and even with a word limit it's the way you should approach it. But if there is no word limit, you also need to make sure you can do the above fast. Wrote typing speed is rarely the barrier: the better you know the law and have practiced doing exams, the less time you will have to spend leafing through an outline, thinking, organizing, and double checking - and the more time you can spend making and elaborating on arguments.

NB: None of that is "read an extra hornbook" - "get an outline from somebody who had the same professor last year" - "read all the cases twice" - or "make sure to brief using at least 20 different highlighters." Law school exam taking is a very specific skill that you are (a) never taught and (b) never receive solid feedback on, but it only relies on you knowing the law well enough to not make mistakes and not on your having mastered every fact of every case your professor assigned as reading.

Wow, I don't think I've ever seen anyone give advice that lines up so perfectly with how I write exams. +1 to everything. The only thing that I would emphasize more is mastering the organization of the course. Never ever ever read a case without reminding yourself of the heading(s) it falls under on your syllabus/in your casebook. And you should think about why your professor assigned a certain case in a particular part of the course rather than another if it could have fit under either; it will help you extract the important rule from the case (this is particularly important if you have a meticulous professor who likes to go over every single detail of every case in class).




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