Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

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Masternater9
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Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby Masternater9 » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:58 pm

My Health law professor is sadistic and is making us take an eight hour take home exam on top of the 15 page ERISA appellate brief that we had to write.

I've never taken an exam like this before. Any tips from people that have been successful at take home exams?

Renzo
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby Renzo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:22 pm

Masternater9 wrote:My Health law professor is sadistic and is making us take an eight hour take home exam on top of the 15 page ERISA appellate brief that we had to write.

I've never taken an exam like this before. Any tips from people that have been successful at take home exams?

No, but I do know ERISA is some bullshit.

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underdawg
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby underdawg » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:23 am

did he say it'd be time pressured? cause i had an eight hour exam that was designed to be taken in like three. the curve on that exam was pretty nuts though.

um i don't think there's any real tricks to it though. just have shit organized i guess. also i bet the prof is expecting some really polished answers, so organization and clarity probably are more important than usual

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badfish
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby badfish » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:25 am

I have two 8 hour take home exams this semester. I love them, way less pressure than the 3 hour in class, you can take your time and check your answers. OP, study for it like you would an in class closed book exam.

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pany1985
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby pany1985 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:36 am

I love me some take-homes

My best grade last semester was an 8hr

270910
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby 270910 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:25 am

The key is to take it seriously. You don't want, for example, to be in the crowd that eschews memorization because of how much time you'll have on the exam.

I'd also recommend, per Volokh, that the key to good writing (when you have the opportunity) is editing rather than planning. I'd consider doing something like taking the exam as though it were a 4.5 hour exam, so you can plan it a little better than your average law school affair. Bang it out, go for a short run, then edit it until your eyes bleed.

On an exam like this you'll want to be even more sure than usual you aren't missing a topic for analysis, make sure you have a thorough issue check list that you step through slowly. On a time-limited exam missing a non-major issue really isn't fatal, but on an 8 hour affair it really could be.

Renzo
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby Renzo » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:26 pm

disco_barred wrote:I'd also recommend, per Volokh, that the key to good writing (when you have the opportunity) is editing rather than planning. I'd consider doing something like taking the exam as though it were a 4.5 hour exam, so you can plan it a little better than your average law school affair. Bang it out, go for a short run, then edit it until your eyes bleed.

I actually agree with this. I would just sit down and type every last thought you have on the question, then go do something else for a bit, then come back and reorganize, rephrase, edit, etc.

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samiseaborn
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby samiseaborn » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:10 pm

I did about 2 hours outlining, 4 writing and 2 editing. Give or take a lunch break. Practice exams in pieces, don't do a straight 8 hour practice or you'll be too exhausted for the real thing.

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underdawg
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby underdawg » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:23 am

Renzo wrote:
disco_barred wrote:I'd also recommend, per Volokh, that the key to good writing (when you have the opportunity) is editing rather than planning. I'd consider doing something like taking the exam as though it were a 4.5 hour exam, so you can plan it a little better than your average law school affair. Bang it out, go for a short run, then edit it until your eyes bleed.

I actually agree with this. I would just sit down and type every last thought you have on the question, then go do something else for a bit, then come back and reorganize, rephrase, edit, etc.

i think planning is much more efficient than that

Renzo
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby Renzo » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:28 am

underdawg wrote:
Renzo wrote:
disco_barred wrote:I'd also recommend, per Volokh, that the key to good writing (when you have the opportunity) is editing rather than planning. I'd consider doing something like taking the exam as though it were a 4.5 hour exam, so you can plan it a little better than your average law school affair. Bang it out, go for a short run, then edit it until your eyes bleed.

I actually agree with this. I would just sit down and type every last thought you have on the question, then go do something else for a bit, then come back and reorganize, rephrase, edit, etc.

i think planning is much more efficient than that

I don't find it to be, but I think it depends on how you learn/work best. I don't find drafting an outline to be particularly helpful, because I usually end up drastically revising it, so it's largely wasted effort.

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Tobias Funke
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby Tobias Funke » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:55 am

I think you need both, however, I do think the editing is key. I would leave plenty of time to edit. I took an 8hr take home last semester and I spent a lot of time thinking out the issues, planning coherent arguments and writing a nice clear answer, but didn't leave much time to edit. I still ended up with a decent grade, but I might have gotten a higher grade had I been able to edit it. Also, I remember stressing out and wishing I had time to read through it again and edit it before I submitted. Being able to read through your answer and edit it until it's exactly how you want it will likely get you a better grade, and it will also give you peace of mind that you submitted a great exam. Nobody likes to stress out over how bad you did on an exam after it's over with because it plagues you for the next 4-6 weeks (and maybe even longer). Good luck!


edit: speaking of reading through your responses... perhaps I should take my own advice and fix those typos.

engineer
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby engineer » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:59 pm

I've been trying to figure out the answer to this question all semester. My worst grade last semester was, by a landslide, my 24-hour take-home exam in property. This semester, I took the class ultra-seriously, and prepared for the exam as I would prepare for a three-hour, closed-book exam. I also photocopied the index from Gilbert's summary and taped it to my wall in true serial killer fashion. This let me QUICKLY find page numbers (any time-saving device works). I also printed out every brief for every case, took a couple back exams, and made a comprehensive outline.

When it came time to take the exam, I spilled my guts for about 10 hours. I answered every question as thoroughly as possible. Then I took a four hour nap. Upon awaking, I condensed the essay down to the maximum eight double-spaced pages by using simple, Volokh-style tricks: rephrasing to the active voice, using shorter sentences, getting to the point faster, etc. I also religiously stand by the tip that if you're questioning the necessity of a statement, delete it without hesitation. If you're questioning the purpose of a sentence, I guarantee that the reader will do the same.

The spill-your-guts-and-condense approach seems like the best way to take these exams, but even more important than that is to take the class seriously.

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mikeytwoshoes
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:40 pm

engineer wrote:I've been trying to figure out the answer to this question all semester. My worst grade last semester was, by a landslide, my 24-hour take-home exam in property. This semester, I took the class ultra-seriously, and prepared for the exam as I would prepare for a three-hour, closed-book exam. I also photocopied the index from Gilbert's summary and taped it to my wall in true serial killer fashion. This let me QUICKLY find page numbers (any time-saving device works). I also printed out every brief for every case, took a couple back exams, and made a comprehensive outline.

When it came time to take the exam, I spilled my guts for about 10 hours. I answered every question as thoroughly as possible. Then I took a four hour nap. Upon awaking, I condensed the essay down to the maximum eight double-spaced pages by using simple, Volokh-style tricks: rephrasing to the active voice, using shorter sentences, getting to the point faster, etc. I also religiously stand by the tip that if you're questioning the necessity of a statement, delete it without hesitation. If you're questioning the purpose of a sentence, I guarantee that the reader will do the same.

The spill-your-guts-and-condense approach seems like the best way to take these exams, but even more important than that is to take the class seriously.

TITCR, take it more seriously than normal. Your peers are going to sluff off knowing they have eight hours to teach themselves the law. Depth of analysis should be your goal.

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Learning Hand
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby Learning Hand » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:56 pm

Is there a word limit? Our Civ Pro professor gave us tips yesterday on what he wants in our 8-hour take-home. Below is advice from him and a previous student who did exceptionally well on an 8-hour take-home in Con Law.

If there is a significant word limit that levels the playing field (i.e., it's not a typing test), your professor is looking for depth of analysis and coherent structure as others have noted. For example, my professor instituted a 2700 word limit. Even if you take three hours to outline, this provides plenty of time to type out your answer--especially since you've already created a detailed outline tailored to the question. So, I recommend taking two to three hours to outline your answer. Review the relevant cases and pull out key quotations to support your arguments. And staying within a tight word limit and maintaining an elevated, elegant analysis requires conciseness. Take practice exams and focus on eliminating extraneous words/clauses. And, yes, take it seriously. Prepare for it just as you would any other exam.

engineer
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby engineer » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:41 pm

Shit, I forgot about quotations from cases. I did, however, quote my prof in class. Transcripts ftw.

Masternater9
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby Masternater9 » Sun May 02, 2010 7:18 pm

Thanks for all the solid advice. I especially like the advice to treat it like a regular exam and really study for it. I have been slacking in that area because of the extensive amount of time. I just found out there are word limits imposed so it will be about having a nice polished final product; concise and to the point.

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Pizon
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Re: Tips for taking an eight hour take home exam?

Postby Pizon » Wed May 05, 2010 12:51 am

A professor at my school teaches Health Law and also gives 8 hour exams.

He gave us an 8 hour Criminal Law exam last semester and told us to take our time with it, going as far as suggesting not writing anything for the first couple hours. I took that advice too seriously and didn't end up with enough time to finish. I'd recommend diving into it and anticipating that it will take you the entire time.




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