1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

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beach_terror
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1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby beach_terror » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:20 pm

Fuck, now we have to wait for grades
Last edited by beach_terror on Thu May 12, 2011 2:03 am, edited 7 times in total.

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vanwinkle
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:21 pm

This reminds me how much I do not miss being a 1L.

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Paichka
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby Paichka » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:47 pm

Same same.

1Ls, I highly highly recommend reading the "Success in Law School" sticky that contains links to the accumulated wisdom of TLS -- most of the guides have extended exam prep sections, which are really useful.

This is what I did, for what it's worth:

1) I wrote my own outlines. I used other outlines to check my work and see how other students had phrased things, but the process of building your outline is, in my mind, probably the single most important thing you can do to cement the concepts in your head.

2) I took exams under timed conditions. Just like LSAT prep. Your school should have an exam bank somewhere -- my school's library maintains one, as well as our SBA. You can also get old exams from professors.

3) Come up with an organization method for your exam answer. This is key -- the more organized and easy to read your exam answer, the easier it will be for your professor to give you points. I used headers to differentiate between different sections of my answer, and the TREAT format our LRW program taught us (similar to IRAC). Most of my answers followed an identical format:

BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT: I answered the initial question -- "A will bring an action against B for ____."

RULE: "The rule for _____ is that it requires proving elements 1, 2 and 3."

EXPLANATION: "In the case X v. Y, the court held that the following facts were relevant to determining whether elements 1, 2 and 3 have been satisfied."

ANALYSIS: "In this case, we have the following relevant facts: _______. Elements 2 and 3 are satisfied under the standard articulated in [RANDOM CASE]. Element 1 is trickier because of [AMBIGUITY]. A will certainly argue _______. B will argue that _________. Under the standard used by the court in [RANDOM CASE], A's argument is more persuasive if the court finds that _______. A minority of jurisdictions use a different analysis, as seen in [RANDOM CASE]. If this jurisdiction follows that analysis, B will win because ________. The court will likely find for A because [PRECEDENT] and [POLICY, if applicable].

BOTTOM LINE: "A's action against B for ________ will succeed, and A will receive [REMEDY]."

Something like that. The key is remembering to argue both sides, and then pick one -- explain why A or B will win, using either cases you learned about during the semester, policy reasons (such as the purposes of punishment in criminal law, or legal theories from torts), or maybe things you remember your professor saying. Case citations aren't necessary, but I always used them -- I found them to be a convenient shorthand, and I like arguing by analogy. Your mileage may vary.

4) Come up with a study schedule and stick to it. I organized mine based on the order of exams -- Torts, then Crim, then Civ Pro, then Contracts. So my schedule looked like this:

November
Week 1: Torts Outlining, hypos practice
Week 2: Crim Outline, hypos practice
Week 3: Civ Pro Outline, hypos practice
Week 4: Contracts Outline, hypos practice

My torts exam was closed book, so throughout November I'd use time each week to go over flash cards. By the end of November, I had a first draft of each of my outlines that was ready to be polished (particularly with stuff we learned the last few weeks of class). The polishing would take place during the following weeks, after I tried to use my outlines under actual exam conditions.

December
Week 1: Torts Exams, followed by outline editing, Crim Exams, followed by outline editing
Week 2: Civ Pro Exams, followed by outline editing, Contracts Exams, followed by outline editing
Week 3: Exam Week
Week 4: Exam Week

Each exam week I had two exams, separated by one day. So the three days leading up to the first exam, I did:
Morning: Practice 1st exam (timed conditions)
Afternoon: Practice 2nd exam

The day prior to each exam, I'd meet with some friends at the last school to go over test answers, debate policy questions, and ask each other questions.

Good luck, you guys! There's a light at the end of the tunnel -- and remember, if you care enough to be HERE, you care enough to put the effort in to do well on your exams.

(Whoo -- wrote a book. Sorry for the hijack!)

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IAFG
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby IAFG » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:51 pm

i hate everything and everyone and want to die.

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Paichka
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby Paichka » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:59 pm

IAFG wrote:i hate everything and everyone and want to die.


Very common. It'll pass.

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vanwinkle
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:02 pm

Paichka wrote:
IAFG wrote:i hate everything and everyone and want to die.

Very common. It'll pass.

I agree with the first part.

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Mroberts3
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby Mroberts3 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:12 pm

The only thing I hate in my life right now is LRW. I would have enough time to read and outline if it wasn't for memos. It's graded, so you have to put the effort in all the while thinking about how you should be doing something else. I want to start looking at exams, but don't feel like I should until I finish the open memo and outlines.

Also, TLS made casebook reading seem so much harder. I've been doing the assigned readings and have felt very little desire to look at hornbooks. I'm sure they will be useful later for review/study but they are far from necessary.

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beach_terror
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby beach_terror » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:13 pm

Paichka, awesome post! Most of my exam issues seem to stem from the way I write my answers. I'm trying to remedy it, but it's one hell of an annoying process. My midterm grade should put me around top 1/3, so I guess I'm on the right track... just need to keep practicing it seems.

stayway
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby stayway » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:14 pm

but I'm tyson fiddy tho

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solotee
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby solotee » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:50 pm

Paichka thank you! Very helpful!!

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SeymourShowz
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby SeymourShowz » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:17 pm

Mroberts3 wrote:The only thing I hate in my life right now is LRW. I would have enough time to read and outline if it wasn't for memos. It's graded, so you have to put the effort in all the while thinking about how you should be doing something else. I want to start looking at exams, but don't feel like I should until I finish the open memo and outlines..


Ditto... I'm trying to bust ass and get most of my memo done this weekend. I really don't want it hanging over my head towards the end of Nov when i have more important things to do.

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beach_terror
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby beach_terror » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:35 pm

SeymourShowz wrote:
Mroberts3 wrote:The only thing I hate in my life right now is LRW. I would have enough time to read and outline if it wasn't for memos. It's graded, so you have to put the effort in all the while thinking about how you should be doing something else. I want to start looking at exams, but don't feel like I should until I finish the open memo and outlines..


Ditto... I'm trying to bust ass and get most of my memo done this weekend. I really don't want it hanging over my head towards the end of Nov when i have more important things to do.


We get our graded memo's on Monday, so I'm busting my ass trying to get all my outlines up to par before then. This is going to be one hell of a lame weekend. Currently re-reading some crim stuff and re-taking notes on it, now that I've finally figured out the type of outlining that'll work well for me on test day.

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irie
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby irie » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:42 pm

Thanks Paichka, great formatting tips

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Paichka
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby Paichka » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:44 pm

SeymourShowz wrote:
Mroberts3 wrote:The only thing I hate in my life right now is LRW. I would have enough time to read and outline if it wasn't for memos. It's graded, so you have to put the effort in all the while thinking about how you should be doing something else. I want to start looking at exams, but don't feel like I should until I finish the open memo and outlines..


Ditto... I'm trying to bust ass and get most of my memo done this weekend. I really don't want it hanging over my head towards the end of Nov when i have more important things to do.


I know the memo sucks, and it's a huge time suck given the minimal credits it's worth...but I've found that I use -- A LOT -- the skills I learned during LRW. I wrote interoffice memos almost exclusively this summer, and my boss told me that the products I gave him were better than what his seasoned attorneys turned in. I'm working for a judge this semester, and she's given me heaps of praise for my writing (bench memos, research memos, draft rulings). I'm competing in a mock trial competition, and the memos my partner and I turned in ended up getting us seeded very high in the initial rounds. I'm not a brilliant writer, I just follow the format taught in my LRW class last year. The more effort you put into LRW, the more you're going to get out of it, and while it sucks for law STUDENTS, learning to write effectively and clearly is probably the single greatest skill you can develop as an advocate.

My point isn't that you shouldn't complain about LRW -- complain away, that's your god-given right as a law student -- but maybe it'll seem less pointless and obnoxious if you remember that what you're working on now is going to help you become a better lawyer on the back end.

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Paichka
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby Paichka » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:55 pm

Ooo...one more thing about exams. (Sorry to take over this thread, but I REALLY don't want to work on my LR note right now.)

Look into building tables and charts for classes like criminal law and torts. For crim, I built a table that had all of the substantive crimes we studied, with their elements, defenses, and responses to the defenses. I also included what those crimes would default to, if the defenses were accepted. So (this would have been in a table):

Charge
First Degree Murder

Elements
(1) deliberate
(2) premeditated
(3) unlawful
(4) killing of a human being
(5) by another human being
(6) with malice aforethought

Defenses
Actus Reus
o I did not kill the victim
o The victim was already dead, was a fetus, the victim was on a ventilator

Mens Rea
o I lacked MALICE
o I didn't PREMEDITATE
o I was provoked (see Voluntary Manslaughter)


Response
Actus Reus
o See Attempt

Mens Rea
o Malice can be inferred from your actions
• Death was natural & probable consequence
• You had a deadly weapon
• Reckless disregard for human life
o "Premeditation in an Instant" or "Contextual evidence"
o The provocation was insufficient

That way, when I came across a fact pattern where A killed B, I started with premeditated murder, argued both sides using relevant facts, then finished up with: "And if a charge of premeditated murder failed because A successfully argued [DEFENSE], then the prosecutor would charge A with depraved heart murder/voluntary manslaughter/involuntary manslaughter." I'd then continue the analysis using the next crime in the chain. My exam answer ended up being very plug-n-play, because I'd already listed in my table relevant defenses and responses to those defenses.

I'll be happy to post my chart if anyone wants to see it, if someone can explain how. I'm technologically illiterate.

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Mroberts3
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby Mroberts3 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:59 pm

Paichka wrote:
SeymourShowz wrote:
Mroberts3 wrote:The only thing I hate in my life right now is LRW. I would have enough time to read and outline if it wasn't for memos. It's graded, so you have to put the effort in all the while thinking about how you should be doing something else. I want to start looking at exams, but don't feel like I should until I finish the open memo and outlines..


Ditto... I'm trying to bust ass and get most of my memo done this weekend. I really don't want it hanging over my head towards the end of Nov when i have more important things to do.


I know the memo sucks, and it's a huge time suck given the minimal credits it's worth...but I've found that I use -- A LOT -- the skills I learned during LRW. I wrote interoffice memos almost exclusively this summer, and my boss told me that the products I gave him were better than what his seasoned attorneys turned in. I'm working for a judge this semester, and she's given me heaps of praise for my writing (bench memos, research memos, draft rulings). I'm competing in a mock trial competition, and the memos my partner and I turned in ended up getting us seeded very high in the initial rounds. I'm not a brilliant writer, I just follow the format taught in my LRW class last year. The more effort you put into LRW, the more you're going to get out of it, and while it sucks for law STUDENTS, learning to write effectively and clearly is probably the single greatest skill you can develop as an advocate.

My point isn't that you shouldn't complain about LRW -- complain away, that's your god-given right as a law student -- but maybe it'll seem less pointless and obnoxious if you remember that what you're working on now is going to help you become a better lawyer on the back end.


Paichka --

Thanks for your earlier post, very helpful. The irony of my distaste for memo writing right now is that on some level I know you are right. I wouldn't complain (as much) if I felt like the class I will use the most in the future was worth more credit-wise. I actually like working on and thinking through the memos (which makes me hopeful about working as a lawyer). However, I'm not a lawyer yet and I want my grades to be as high as possible. :)

One thing about exam prep is that figuring out what each prof wants is way easier than I thought it would be. Obviously all want you to apply law to fact, but in somewhat different ways. I was very worried about having to use a crystal ball to decipher each professor's particular likes and dislikes. For example, My torts professor wants you to argue both sides until your mouth falls off. Civ Pro prof won't give you the light of day unless your answer starts with "Rule XX says..."

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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby stocksly33 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:38 am

i hate how much time the memo takes too.

generally, re finals prep... my approach to each class is very different, because my profs are so different. but overall, i'm just doing a lot more hypos and review. the next step for me is practice tests... i'm gonna do one full PT timed soon. and then work as many other PTs as I can, just outlining the answers.

something i thought of last week... i'm trying to do lots of reviewing, and get to my profs/tutors (during office hours) with questions now. they have lots of time right now, and they give me lengthy explanations. i'm guessing they will be swamped in mid-late november and it will be harder to get quality time with them.

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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby clintonius » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:12 am

Ditto on the "figuring out what your professors want" aspect of this all, to the extent that I can know that before having taken their exams. Crim Law prof is crazy about policy arguments in addition to the elements, etc, and Civ Pro prof has a specific order for arguments (rule-exception-why exception doesn't apply-why it might actually apply-policy-practicality). He's also totally crazy about us pointing out distinctions between hypo fact patterns and facts in cases we've read.

My primary gripe about legal research is that the search algorithms on westlaw and lexis are so godawful useless. Searching law reviews for (employment & gender sex /s discrimination & "new york city")* should not put an Oklahoma Law Review result in the top 3 of hundreds of results. For that matter, I shouldn't have to do all that silly formatting in the search. Google would know this. If one of those two search engines purchased the rights to Google's algorithm they'd drive the other out of business inside of a year.

*I don't remember if that's the actual search I used, but it's something like that

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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby IAFG » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:19 am

IAFG wrote:i hate everything and everyone and want to die.

Fucking contracts, outline yourself

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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby zeth006 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:20 am

SeymourShowz wrote:
Mroberts3 wrote:The only thing I hate in my life right now is LRW. I would have enough time to read and outline if it wasn't for memos. It's graded, so you have to put the effort in all the while thinking about how you should be doing something else. I want to start looking at exams, but don't feel like I should until I finish the open memo and outlines..


Ditto... I'm trying to bust ass and get most of my memo done this weekend. I really don't want it hanging over my head towards the end of Nov when i have more important things to do.


+1.

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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby beach_terror » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:44 am

For the veterans, or fellow 1L PTers, how do you guys determine which issues to discuss when there are too many issues to discuss all of them thoroughly? I did an intentional torts hypo a few days ago and while I spotted 90% of the issues, I could only hit about 60-65% of them in my answer. I tried to omit some of the obvious ones (a set up for false imprisonment, but it was defeated in the facts by a clear exit told to the person by the owner of the store).

How do I differentiate to maximize points?

(also, as I sit here re-reading my crim stuff - I ran across a case that would have definitely boosted my score up at least 3 points :evil:)

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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby GeePee » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:47 am

beach_terror wrote:For the veterans, or fellow 1L PTers, how do you guys determine which issues to discuss when there are too many issues to discuss all of them thoroughly? I did an intentional torts hypo a few days ago and while I spotted 90% of the issues, I could only hit about 60-65% of them in my answer. I tried to omit some of the obvious ones (a set up for false imprisonment, but it was defeated in the facts by a clear exit told to the person by the owner of the store).

How do I differentiate to maximize points?

(also, as I sit here re-reading my crim stuff - I ran across a case that would have definitely boosted my score up at least 3 points :evil:)

Was your limiting factor time or words? In my opinion that makes a big difference.

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beach_terror
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby beach_terror » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:50 am

GeePee wrote:
beach_terror wrote:For the veterans, or fellow 1L PTers, how do you guys determine which issues to discuss when there are too many issues to discuss all of them thoroughly? I did an intentional torts hypo a few days ago and while I spotted 90% of the issues, I could only hit about 60-65% of them in my answer. I tried to omit some of the obvious ones (a set up for false imprisonment, but it was defeated in the facts by a clear exit told to the person by the owner of the store).

How do I differentiate to maximize points?

(also, as I sit here re-reading my crim stuff - I ran across a case that would have definitely boosted my score up at least 3 points :evil:)

Was your limiting factor time or words? In my opinion that makes a big difference.


Time

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Paichka
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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby Paichka » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:15 pm

My torts exam 1L year was a monster -- something like 7-9 pages of a single run-on fact pattern, with a bazillion and one torts being committed every which way (it concerned Santa and his reindeer going from house to house inflicting massive amounts of property and personal damage on unsuspecting law professors). What I did was break the exam down into "scenes", which corresponded to the plaintiff. So one house was one plaintiff was one scene -- I'd read through the exam once to get a sense of the scope, then dig into each scene. We had 3 hours, and there were something like 7 different possible plaintiffs (each with multiple claims against multiple parties). I listed all of the potential plaintiffs and then gave myself a time limit for each section -- after 20 minutes, I'd move on to the next plaintiff. After the initial run through of identifying the major torts and defenses, I'd start back at the beginning and flesh out my answers, identifying other torts, interesting defenses, and plugging in policy arguments where applicable. I did that methodically section by section until I ran out of time.

The thing about the monster fact patterns is that your professor knows you don't have enough time to identify all of them. Our professor said that his exams typically run about 450-500 points, and "A" students get maybe 250-300 of those points. (This is also why it's useless to talk about exams after they're over -- your friends will probably have identified other things, but that doesn't mean they got more points than you did.)

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Re: 1L Exam Prep and Motivation Thread

Postby GeePee » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:15 pm

beach_terror wrote:
GeePee wrote:
beach_terror wrote:For the veterans, or fellow 1L PTers, how do you guys determine which issues to discuss when there are too many issues to discuss all of them thoroughly? I did an intentional torts hypo a few days ago and while I spotted 90% of the issues, I could only hit about 60-65% of them in my answer. I tried to omit some of the obvious ones (a set up for false imprisonment, but it was defeated in the facts by a clear exit told to the person by the owner of the store).

How do I differentiate to maximize points?

(also, as I sit here re-reading my crim stuff - I ran across a case that would have definitely boosted my score up at least 3 points :evil:)

Was your limiting factor time or words? In my opinion that makes a big difference.


Time

If your exam is not word limited then spot the issues you see as you go along. For the easy ones, dismiss them in 1 sentence and move on. You can always come back and elaborate later if necessary. For the more complex issues with some ambiguity, feel free to spend as long as you see fit. This way, you keep racking up points as you move through the exam, but you don't bog yourself down with trivial issues.

Of course, this is often professor specific, and they'll often tell you what they want if you listen carefully... or at least, that's been my experience so far.




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