Studying for closed v. open exams

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Omerta
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Studying for closed v. open exams

Postby Omerta » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:13 pm

I looked in the archives and I couldn't find anything directly on this. I have property and criminal as closed book exams this semester; I had none last semester. For those of you that took closed book exams first semester, what did you do differently from your open book classes? Did you study differently through the year? How about the last few weeks before exams? Did the subject changed how you studied for it? Thanks for your thoughts.

random5483
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Re: Studying for closed v. open exams

Postby random5483 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:17 pm

All my exams have been closed book so far. However, I'd assume I would study the same for a closed or open book examination. In most exams you really don't have the time to flip through pages. Maybe you could bring a 1 page sheet with some pertinent information to look at, but overall my experience with law school exams have been that you really have no time to do anything but a brief outline of your answer and then write everything out.

With that said, you might want to wait for a response from someone with experience of both exam types.

dakatz
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Re: Studying for closed v. open exams

Postby dakatz » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:19 pm

Omerta wrote:I looked in the archives and I couldn't find anything directly on this. I have property and criminal as closed book exams this semester; I had none last semester. For those of you that took closed book exams first semester, what did you do differently from your open book classes? Did you study differently through the year? How about the last few weeks before exams? Did the subject changed how you studied for it? Thanks for your thoughts.


Honestly, I prepared for all exams pretty much the same (2 open book and 1 closed book). I wanted to be so well-prepared that I wouldn't even need to look into the materials I bring unless absolutely necessary. Thus, I ended up doing as much memorizing for the open-book exams as the closed one. Don't be fooled. You will have almost zero time to consult your materials, and it can prove a very false sense of security. I found that, by treating every exam like a closed book one in my preparation, it was that much easier.

As for what I actually did, I spent a lot of time memorizing the cases (since my professor wanted us to be able to reference them often). I made myself a large set of flashcards as the semester went along. I had cards for cases, vocabulary, important rules, etc. By continually drilling these concepts, they were second nature come exam time. Whether or not this preparation led to a good grade, I will know soon.

abudaba
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Re: Studying for closed v. open exams

Postby abudaba » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:15 am

My Crim law class was closed book and once my outline was complete I condensed each section and put it on some notecards to memorize it. I also did this with my other closed book exam and did well in each class.

I took 2 slightly different approaches to open note classes based on the type of exam (i.e. issue spotter vs. essay)

For the issue spotter (torts) I had an exam outline prewritten. I had a brief rule statement that I just regurgitated into the exam along with preset questions to address, based on old exams on file. It was pretty much an outline of an exam response where I just filled in the blanks. Also did well in this class

For essay exams I had much more detailed rule development sections along with policies to consider. I just copied the rule into the exam which bought me more time for analysis. Still waiting on this grade

Ultimately I did use my notes during the open book exam, but only in a way that SAVED time. Notes cannot be a substitute for knowing the law cold.

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JazzOne
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Re: Studying for closed v. open exams

Postby JazzOne » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:29 am

I studied basically the same way for either type of exam. The only difference is that I make flash cards for the closed-book exams. Regardless of which type of exam it is, my success is always directly proportional to my effort and organization in the class.

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megaTTTron
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Re: Studying for closed v. open exams

Postby megaTTTron » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:13 pm

JazzOne wrote:I studied basically the same way for either type of exam. The only difference is that I make flash cards for the closed-book exams. Regardless of which type of exam it is, my success is always directly proportional to my effort and organization in the class.


+ 1, samesies,

tikitavi
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Re: Studying for closed v. open exams

Postby tikitavi » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:00 pm

Although you don't have time to look in your outline in an open book exam, you do have time to look at your 1-page cheat sheet in case you are drawing a blank on, say, the 5th element of adverse possession. The difference with a closed book exam is that if you draw a blank with something like that, you don't have any cheat sheet to remind you. So my strategy was just to type out rule statements over and over throughout the semester and then leading up to the exam. It will be hard to forget it that way, and you'll get to the point where you'll have so much muscle memory that your hands will kind of type up rule statements on their own. IMO, that is the benefit of repeated typing over using flashcards.

But besides just putting in some extra time to make sure you have everything memorized, I think your studying should be the same for each type of class.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Studying for closed v. open exams

Postby Big Shrimpin » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:00 pm

1. Approach them with same study plan
2. Pwn your classmates on open book exams because you don't need to waste time looking at your notes and/or your 200 page outline.
3. ???
4. Profit

sethc
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Re: Studying for closed v. open exams

Postby sethc » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:16 pm

Sheesh, must be nice! My school doesn't allow open-book exams, at least for 1L (not sure about beyond) but at any rate, it would have made my first law school finals much better and less stressful, overall.

FWIW: 1L, 2nd term, low-tier school [good enough for this i think]; also confident about finals, but only 1 has been posted so far.

That said, my advice is probably worth little to you, specifically. But, knowing the rigors of 1L I feel a certain duty (poor word-choice, I know). Hopefully, you find it to have some benefit. Here goes:

#1: Figure out if your note-taking is better (for YOU!) via laptop vs. handwriting. I am strictly a laptop guy & I use MS OneNote. I never touched that program until law school, so I was probably late figuring out how useful it is for law school. Either way - I HIGHLY suggest you look into this if you haven't already and especially if you stick to your computer like I do.

#2: Laptop: For my finals, my "outline" was a condensed, 1-page summary of everything pertinent to the test. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense because Office suites (like MS) let you have "infinite" pages & OneNote is no different. But, the cool thing with 1N is that you can print like you could from any other program, though I never printed anything off to study by.
Handwriting: I can't speak much to this other than sort of the same sort of approach as above. The key to BOTH, in my opinion, is condense-condense-condense! I know it's tough to *not* leave anything out when you're outlining to study, but (again, for me) the best way to retain large amounts of knowledge is to reduce it to as few pages as you possibly can. I know this is painfully obvious, but bear with me. After that, break your minimal/condensed outline down even further. What works for me is using words that are *easily* internalized by me. As an example, I typically use certain "buzz words", if you will that are extremely unique in terms of usage by the average person & that they will instantly ring a loud bell for me. I mean shit like: "ppl", "w/ or w/o", ()'s & /'s, 4[for] and so on -- you get the picture: abbreviate ANY way you find convenient or useful. For me, that consists of basically using every symbol you need to push the SHIFT-button for haha.

As lame as that might be - the point is to not give a fuck. I know I'll get UBERRRRR-flamed for that last part because NOBODY likes people like girls who actually say god-awful abbreviations like "LOL!" and "OMG" when they're actually talking.. and I hate that shit too. But, this is different, I think. After all, they're only notes and only YOU see them. Just don't let it carry over to your speaking habits. People tend to talk how they write & write how they talk. Hopefully you see what I'm saying. Sometimes self-consciousness is tough to ignore in law school. But, the mantra of most law students is to do whatever is comfortable to help youprepare for the exam in order to get a good grade. Don't forget that! But, if I were in your position & had the erection-inducing (for me) possibility of an open-book exam.. this is how I would prepare.

If you have any questions, let me know. Sorry I'm wordy, but I did awesome on my CrimLaw exam and understand it pretty damn good. Feel free to shoot me a PM.




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