Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

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A'nold
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Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby A'nold » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:00 am

Hey guys. Many people will probably call this thread douchey but I really think it could help all of us 1L's out for the 2nd round of exams.

I am 1st in my section but did not receive 1 top grade (except in LRW but I won't know my final grade until the end of the semester). After talking to at least one student that got the top grade in one class, I know I was the second highest grade and was likely in the top 5 exams for the rest.

The problem is that there would be a gaping abyss right now b/w me and the others at my school if I would just have earned a few more points on like 2 exams but as it is right now I feel the pressure of people breathing down my neck. :)

So, this thread is about how we can tweak our exam answers enough to nail a few highest grade in the class distinctions to cement our chances of transferring, law review, OCI offers, etc.


As for me, I think I was too sloppy with my answers and tried to get too many reach points instead of fully analyzing within an issue. I was likely beaten out by students that wrote exams that were a little more put together and that flowed better. Obviously analyzed within issues across the board better than my classmates, but like I said I did not write one "best" exam. This is my guess but I could be completely off, thus this thread to help us all do even better than last semester.

Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:01 am

Outline better? i dunno

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kings84_wr
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby kings84_wr » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:55 am

I had one exam that was the top in the class, and I can honestly say I don't think there was much difference between it and my others. I think its just professor preference on stylistic details and writing.

I think this semester for me, Con law is a bit of different animal, kinda similar to my crim law last semester.

My own person best study method is flow charting. Last semester it helped me infinitely to break it down, and figure out just how everything fits together, and the one class I never really was able to break down ended up being my lowest grade.
that and lots of hypos and practice exams are my study methods. I think some of it just comes down to luck.

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A'nold
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby A'nold » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:10 am

kings84_wr wrote:I had one exam that was the top in the class, and I can honestly say I don't think there was much difference between it and my others. I think its just professor preference on stylistic details and writing.

I think this semester for me, Con law is a bit of different animal, kinda similar to my crim law last semester.

My own person best study method is flow charting. Last semester it helped me infinitely to break it down, and figure out just how everything fits together, and the one class I never really was able to break down ended up being my lowest grade.
that and lots of hypos and practice exams are my study methods. I think some of it just comes down to luck.


Yeah, it's just weird that I got so many high grades but never really tippity top. I feel like there is just something missing.....one professor even told me that there is a difference b/w and A exam and an A-, but maybe that's just a preference thing like you said.

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kings84_wr
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby kings84_wr » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:18 am

You'll probably get like three now this semester haha

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A'nold
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby A'nold » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:25 am

kings84_wr wrote:You'll probably get like three now this semester haha



That'd be so awesome.

You gunnin' for straight A's so you are assured Haaaaavad?

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kings84_wr
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby kings84_wr » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:36 am

A'nold wrote:
kings84_wr wrote:You'll probably get like three now this semester haha



That'd be so awesome.

You gunnin' for straight A's so you are assured Haaaaavad?


That would be awesome, Im really just hoping to keep my gpa I have now. But I do admit that I did calculate that if i got straight A's Id be in the top 1% theoretically, so its something to shoot for.

I have noticed a lot of drop off in my friends, I think job search, fall grades, and just burn out, have led to a lot less motivation this time around by a lot of people.

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A'nold
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby A'nold » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:38 am

kings84_wr wrote:
A'nold wrote:
kings84_wr wrote:You'll probably get like three now this semester haha



That'd be so awesome.

You gunnin' for straight A's so you are assured Haaaaavad?


That would be awesome, Im really just hoping to keep my gpa I have now. But I do admit that I did calculate that if i got straight A's Id be in the top 1% theoretically, so its something to shoot for.

I have noticed a lot of drop off in my friends, I think job search, fall grades, and just burn out, have led to a lot less motivation this time around by a lot of people.


I admit I have had a big issue with burnout this semester, but for other reasons. I think self-doubt has crept in and is paralyzing my work drive. Either that or I am more efficient this semester. I hope it's the latter.

270910
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby 270910 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:38 am

Just throwing this out there: very rarely is the difference between the 'best' exam and the 'not best' exams style, organization, feel, professor preference, phase of the moon, etc. The vast majority of professors grade by assigning point to certain things (issue spotting, issue analysis, etc.) and while precisely how they will do this is a black box, there's nothing random or touchy-feely about it (again, speaking in generalizations, so you're mileage may vary).

The reason you didn't write the best exam in any of your classes is because somebody else wrote better exams in all of your classes. There's not really a systematic reason, or a systematic cure, you know? If you're #1 in your section, it meant you were more consistent about being top flight at the end of the day even if people 'beat' you in individual classes.

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A'nold
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby A'nold » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:14 am

disco_barred wrote:Just throwing this out there: very rarely is the difference between the 'best' exam and the 'not best' exams style, organization, feel, professor preference, phase of the moon, etc. The vast majority of professors grade by assigning point to certain things (issue spotting, issue analysis, etc.) and while precisely how they will do this is a black box, there's nothing random or touchy-feely about it (again, speaking in generalizations, so you're mileage may vary).

The reason you didn't write the best exam in any of your classes is because somebody else wrote better exams in all of your classes. There's not really a systematic reason, or a systematic cure, you know? If you're #1 in your section, it meant you were more consistent about being top flight at the end of the day even if people 'beat' you in individual classes.


Yeah, and that's definitely what matters most. I really do think it was my sloppiness though. You'd have to see my grades to know what I'm talking about, but I was consistent with being like 3rd or 4th best exam in all of the classes so I do think there was something not quite right about the way I wrote them.

rando
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby rando » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:26 am

A'nold wrote:
disco_barred wrote:Just throwing this out there: very rarely is the difference between the 'best' exam and the 'not best' exams style, organization, feel, professor preference, phase of the moon, etc. The vast majority of professors grade by assigning point to certain things (issue spotting, issue analysis, etc.) and while precisely how they will do this is a black box, there's nothing random or touchy-feely about it (again, speaking in generalizations, so you're mileage may vary).

The reason you didn't write the best exam in any of your classes is because somebody else wrote better exams in all of your classes. There's not really a systematic reason, or a systematic cure, you know? If you're #1 in your section, it meant you were more consistent about being top flight at the end of the day even if people 'beat' you in individual classes.


Yeah, and that's definitely what matters most. I really do think it was my sloppiness though. You'd have to see my grades to know what I'm talking about, but I was consistent with being like 3rd or 4th best exam in all of the classes so I do think there was something not quite right about the way I wrote them.


Not that the grading is random, but the testing is random. i.e. what the professor chooses to test etc. Some issues you just know better than others. I would be hesitant to change your exam-taking style, considering that is what worked for you so well last semester.

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sayan
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby sayan » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:03 am

There a ton of things that could separate you, and it's hard to say what you lacked without seeing your paper.

Maybe you didn't spot all the issues (pretty likely).
Maybe you didn't format so nicely (you didn't nicely separate things that should have been separated).
Maybe you didn't analyze the issues well enough in terms of applying rules or dissecting elements.
Maybe you didn't raise the other side's POV or did so poorly.
Maybe you used too much policy reasoning, or too little.
Maybe you didn't apply case law enough or did so inappropriately.

I don't think you're falling into the "overly conclusory" trap, but it's clear that with exams of 4000+ words, there is always some way to distinguish the best from the rest.

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A'nold
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby A'nold » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:55 am

sayan wrote:There a ton of things that could separate you, and it's hard to say what you lacked without seeing your paper.

Maybe you didn't spot all the issues (pretty likely).
Maybe you didn't format so nicely (you didn't nicely separate things that should have been separated).
Maybe you didn't analyze the issues well enough in terms of applying rules or dissecting elements.
Maybe you didn't raise the other side's POV or did so poorly.
Maybe you used too much policy reasoning, or too little.
Maybe you didn't apply case law enough or did so inappropriately.

I don't think you're falling into the "overly conclusory" trap, but it's clear that with exams of 4000+ words, there is always some way to distinguish the best from the rest.


Well, I am the best, overall at least. :wink:

I formatted well, I'm pretty sure I spotted more issues than anyone else for all of my exams, actually, I might have been too sloppy dissecting elements, I definitely hit both sides of the argument, I REALLY might have talked policy too much (I think I rambled a little too much on reach issues) and I'm about 100% positive that I applied case law very, very well.

So, a few of the possibilities you listed really might have been it, I will definitely pay attention to these things while practicing hypos before exams. Thanks.

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apper123
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby apper123 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:22 am

I have a standard issue spotter exam with massive fact patterns in Ks.

The word limit to answer each essay is usually 250.

I wish I was kidding.

I have no idea how to handle this. They are still huge issue spotting essays like any other exam. It's not like half the fact pattern is a red herring; it's all relevant.

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steve_nash
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby steve_nash » Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:08 pm

.
Last edited by steve_nash on Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby Big Shrimpin » Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:17 pm

apper123 wrote:I have a standard issue spotter exam with massive fact patterns in Ks.

The word limit to answer each essay is usually 250.

I wish I was kidding.

I have no idea how to handle this. They are still huge issue spotting essays like any other exam. It's not like half the fact pattern is a red herring; it's all relevant.



The bane of my existence, and the reason (pretty sure, after further inquiry) I got 2 instead of 3 top-5 or so grades on my exams last semester. Mega-typathon, FTW.

Advice from my experience and along the lines of what apper said: Know precisely what format your exam will take (which it seems you do). Crucial for writing the playbook prior gameday (which, consequently, is also a great way to pre-allocate time and, if necessary, word count to ensure a good mix of thorough analysis and sufficient issue-spotting).

I'm not gonna lie though dooder--word-limit-giant-issue-spotter exams are, in my opinion, akin to a big F U from the professor. Multiple exam constraints, FTL.

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mikeytwoshoes
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:03 pm

My profs have been stressing doing the analysis as the courts do in the cases (Erie, Hanna, the commerce clause cases). It seems like a good idea for specialized cases to borrow the courts' analysis. YMMV

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mikeytwoshoes
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:12 pm

apper123 wrote:I have a standard issue spotter exam with massive fact patterns in Ks.

The word limit to answer each essay is usually 250.

I wish I was kidding.

I have no idea how to handle this. They are still huge issue spotting essays like any other exam. It's not like half the fact pattern is a red herring; it's all relevant.

I would handle this by sketching an outline for the larger analysis you would normally do, find the lynch pin, and put that in the answer.

I may not know what I'm talking about.

rando
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby rando » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:13 pm

mikeytwoshoes wrote:
I may not know what I'm talking about.


Love it.

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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby pandacot » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:22 am

kings84_wr wrote:
My own person best study method is flow charting. Last semester it helped me infinitely to break it down, and figure out just how everything fits together, and the one class I never really was able to break down ended up being my lowest grade.
that and lots of hypos and practice exams are my study methods. I think some of it just comes down to luck.


What did you use to flow chart things? Just Word, or? I've been tempted to do this, but my method ends up taking too much time, so I just write attack outlines.

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mikeytwoshoes
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Re: Exam Writing Tips for 2nd Semester

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:45 pm

pandacot wrote:
kings84_wr wrote:
My own person best study method is flow charting. Last semester it helped me infinitely to break it down, and figure out just how everything fits together, and the one class I never really was able to break down ended up being my lowest grade.
that and lots of hypos and practice exams are my study methods. I think some of it just comes down to luck.


What did you use to flow chart things? Just Word, or? I've been tempted to do this, but my method ends up taking too much time, so I just write attack outlines.

You can do it in Word 2007. Go to the insert tab and click on shapes. Insert a shape and then go back into shapes and pick an arrow to link them together. Once you have a box, you can fill it with color and add text.




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