How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

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rocon7383
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How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby rocon7383 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:46 pm

I have two closed book closed outline exams and one open notes exam. In preparing for the open notes exam, I have been putting together an outline. However, I am growing frustrated with my preparation for the closed book exams. I originally tried to make note cards; however, I felt it was too time-consuming and not efficient. So, I decided to outline these courses. But should I make my own, or find canned ones? Should I place a strong emphasis on the cases? Both professors for the closed book exams alluded to the fact that we won't be required to recall exact case names. My question to those who have been down this path before is, what do you recommend? I want to get on the path to good exam prep ASAP and feel like I haven't been able to do as good of a job as I could.
Last edited by rocon7383 on Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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kalvano
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby kalvano » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:54 pm

Outline everything. Then go over the outline and edit it down. Then do it again. Then do it again. Doing that forces you to consider everything and decide what is relevant and what is not, and helps fix ideas in your mind. Go from 50 pages (or whatever) down to 8-12 pages (or whatever). You'll be surprised at how effective it is.

Try to make your own outline.

As far as cases, I wouldn't worry too much about them since they said you don't need to know case names. Make sure you know any super-important cases and can apply the holding. Further, if your prof spent an inordinate amount of time on a case or two, even if they say you don't need to know case names, they really mean except for those cases.

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rocon7383
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby rocon7383 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:18 pm

kalvano wrote:Outline everything. Then go over the outline and edit it down. Then do it again. Then do it again. Doing that forces you to consider everything and decide what is relevant and what is not, and helps fix ideas in your mind. Go from 50 pages (or whatever) down to 8-12 pages (or whatever). You'll be surprised at how effective it is.

Try to make your own outline.

As far as cases, I wouldn't worry too much about them since they said you don't need to know case names. Make sure you know any super-important cases and can apply the holding. Further, if your prof spent an inordinate amount of time on a case or two, even if they say you don't need to know case names, they really mean except for those cases.


the bolded makes a lot of sense to me, but I worry about whether I would make the right decisions as to what gets cut. Do you get more clarity on this as your professor provides practice exams and reviews for the final? Or is it really your judgment call.

UT1502
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby UT1502 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:27 pm

I second everything Kalvano said. Do the outline early, look at some practice exams and sample answers to see what the professor finds important, distill the outline, etc. It will make more sense once you've gone through all the material. You kind of have to go through everything once before you know whether any of it is important.

Honestly, I prefer closed-book exams because it prompts me to distill the outline more times. If you're in an exam consulting your outline for more than case names, something's wrong.

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kalvano
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby kalvano » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:30 pm

rocon7383 wrote:
kalvano wrote:Outline everything. Then go over the outline and edit it down. Then do it again. Then do it again. Doing that forces you to consider everything and decide what is relevant and what is not, and helps fix ideas in your mind. Go from 50 pages (or whatever) down to 8-12 pages (or whatever). You'll be surprised at how effective it is.

Try to make your own outline.

As far as cases, I wouldn't worry too much about them since they said you don't need to know case names. Make sure you know any super-important cases and can apply the holding. Further, if your prof spent an inordinate amount of time on a case or two, even if they say you don't need to know case names, they really mean except for those cases.


the bolded makes a lot of sense to me, but I worry about whether I would make the right decisions as to what gets cut. Do you get more clarity on this as your professor provides practice exams and reviews for the final? Or is it really your judgment call.



Doesn't matter what gets cut, you can't take the outline in. What matters is the thinking about it and going over it in your mind.

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mths
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby mths » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:33 pm

--ImageRemoved--

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rocon7383
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby rocon7383 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:40 pm

kalvano wrote:
rocon7383 wrote:
kalvano wrote:Outline everything. Then go over the outline and edit it down. Then do it again. Then do it again. Doing that forces you to consider everything and decide what is relevant and what is not, and helps fix ideas in your mind. Go from 50 pages (or whatever) down to 8-12 pages (or whatever). You'll be surprised at how effective it is.

Try to make your own outline.

As far as cases, I wouldn't worry too much about them since they said you don't need to know case names. Make sure you know any super-important cases and can apply the holding. Further, if your prof spent an inordinate amount of time on a case or two, even if they say you don't need to know case names, they really mean except for those cases.


the bolded makes a lot of sense to me, but I worry about whether I would make the right decisions as to what gets cut. Do you get more clarity on this as your professor provides practice exams and reviews for the final? Or is it really your judgment call.



Doesn't matter what gets cut, you can't take the outline in. What matters is the thinking about it and going over it in your mind.


I see what you mean. I was just worried about cutting something early on, forgetting about it, and it showing up on the exam. Another issue i'm having relates to what we discuss in class. For example, my Torts professor goes over the details of every case, black letter law is mentioned somewhat sparingly. He also takes questions for a chunk of class that always end up beingI gunners' hypos that usually do more to confuse everybody than to help. I'm having a difficult time isolating what he's likely to ask about.

Geist13
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby Geist13 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:48 pm

The one closed book exam I had, I just used notecards. Made very detailed notecards about everything. Included grey areas to discuss, policy considerations etc. Then just went over them and over them for the two days before the exam. Ended up doing well.

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Vronsky
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby Vronsky » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:11 pm

I second the outline distillation approach. Start by creating a comprehensive outline, your goal should be to have this completely finished by the last day of classes. Spend your reading period distilling the big outline at least once, probably twice, thus creating about a 10 page "attack outline" that you will memorize (In addition to doing closed-book practice exams and then comparing answers to models, class notes, and your outline/book) .

When considering what to cut, try to distill each case into a single sentence that illustrate the "point" of each case. Use your own words, and don't copy directly from the opinion. Depending on the subject, each case may have several points, in which case go with what your prof. emphasizes in class. Things to cut include excessive descriptions of facts and procedural posture.

Also, don't make the mistake of assuming that a closed-book, closed-outline exam means that you aren't expected to cite cases. You are. Of course, professors will be more forgiving, and if you completely blank on test day, it's totally acceptable to cite a case like this: The case where the defendant killed the guy for touching his nose or whatnot. Be warned that there are some instances where you CANNOT forget a case name (e.g. many in civ pro).

In general, things to include when you pare down the outline: consider majority and minority rules, old vs. modern trends, and any other instances that illustrate competing interpretations/rules.

ETA - Gave this a little more thought and wanted to add something - I booked a few exams last year where I didn't distill by creating a new outline, but by going over my outline again and again. Thus I guess it's largely course-specific, and you could spend your time covering every inch of your comprehensive outline rather than distilling it.

For example, in Crim I probably started with about a 25-30 page outline. But I went through it again and again and highlighted the crucial areas. For example, for first degree murder, I need to know these things: (1) some courts say no time is too short, case cite, (2) some courts say some time for reflection is required, case cite (3) neither distinction really makes sense, because some heat-of-the-moment murders are heinous while some planned murders are compassionate, case cite, (4) MPC does not distinguish this, the rationale is X."

Second semester, I had about an 80 page property outline, and did the above, but also spent time creating an outline in sentence format. This forced me to put the concepts in my own words, and prepped me for the test pretty well. You can then read over this 5-10 page document on the morning of the test to calm your nerves.

tl;dr - the point of outlining is to force yourself to express the concepts (as you will have to do on the exam) and to help memorize. many methods can work, so long as you are expressing concepts and memorizing them.

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northwood
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby northwood » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:10 pm

thanks for the info.. should i write out the outline by hand? when do you all think it would be best to start?

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AVBucks4239
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby AVBucks4239 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:47 pm

Arrow had closed book exams and he took a "repetition" type approach to studying for his exams. Definitely seems time consuming though.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=77628

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Vronsky
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby Vronsky » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:19 pm

northwood wrote:thanks for the info.. should i write out the outline by hand? when do you all think it would be best to start?


what do you mean by hand? with a pen or pencil? not unless you're one of those crazy people who takes exams by writing rather than using a computer.

you should also work on typing speed and proficiency. it's been debated ad nauseum around here, and of course it won't make up for lack a knowledge, but being about to pound out 20 pages for 3 exam essays in 3 hours is - all things equal - better than 15 pages. you just simply have more pages to rack up check marks.

BTW - are you at a T2? typically schools with closed book exams and multiple choice do so out of a desire to aid in "bar prep."

and you should start now, if you haven't already.

the lantern
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby the lantern » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:30 pm

I started by preparing the exact same way for regular exams, by outlining. Once done outlining, I just read my outline like 1000000000000 times.

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happy187
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby happy187 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:09 am

wow i didn't even know that some schools gave open notes/book exam. 2L and all exams have been closed notes/book.

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tfer2222
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby tfer2222 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:18 am

Vronsky wrote:When considering what to cut, try to distill each case into a single sentence that illustrate the "point" of each case. Use your own words, and don't copy directly from the opinion. Depending on the subject, each case may have several points, in which case go with what your prof. emphasizes in class. Things to cut include excessive descriptions of facts and procedural posture.

Also, don't make the mistake of assuming that a closed-book, closed-outline exam means that you aren't expected to cite cases. You are.


This is entirely professor-and-class-dependent . I rarely cited cases on any property, torts, or Ks exams, ever. And they were all open-book. and i got As.

note: con law and to a certain extent civ pro require case citing and knowledge.

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rocon7383
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby rocon7383 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:22 pm

Vronsky wrote:I second the outline distillation approach. Start by creating a comprehensive outline, your goal should be to have this completely finished by the last day of classes. Spend your reading period distilling the big outline at least once, probably twice, thus creating about a 10 page "attack outline" that you will memorize (In addition to doing closed-book practice exams and then comparing answers to models, class notes, and your outline/book) .

When considering what to cut, try to distill each case into a single sentence that illustrate the "point" of each case. Use your own words, and don't copy directly from the opinion. Depending on the subject, each case may have several points, in which case go with what your prof. emphasizes in class. Things to cut include excessive descriptions of facts and procedural posture.

Also, don't make the mistake of assuming that a closed-book, closed-outline exam means that you aren't expected to cite cases. You are. Of course, professors will be more forgiving, and if you completely blank on test day, it's totally acceptable to cite a case like this: The case where the defendant killed the guy for touching his nose or whatnot. Be warned that there are some instances where you CANNOT forget a case name (e.g. many in civ pro).

In general, things to include when you pare down the outline: consider majority and minority rules, old vs. modern trends, and any other instances that illustrate competing interpretations/rules.

ETA - Gave this a little more thought and wanted to add something - I booked a few exams last year where I didn't distill by creating a new outline, but by going over my outline again and again. Thus I guess it's largely course-specific, and you could spend your time covering every inch of your comprehensive outline rather than distilling it.

For example, in Crim I probably started with about a 25-30 page outline. But I went through it again and again and highlighted the crucial areas. For example, for first degree murder, I need to know these things: (1) some courts say no time is too short, case cite, (2) some courts say some time for reflection is required, case cite (3) neither distinction really makes sense, because some heat-of-the-moment murders are heinous while some planned murders are compassionate, case cite, (4) MPC does not distinguish this, the rationale is X."

Second semester, I had about an 80 page property outline, and did the above, but also spent time creating an outline in sentence format. This forced me to put the concepts in my own words, and prepped me for the test pretty well. You can then read over this 5-10 page document on the morning of the test to calm your nerves.

tl;dr - the point of outlining is to force yourself to express the concepts (as you will have to do on the exam) and to help memorize. many methods can work, so long as you are expressing concepts and memorizing them.


thanks for this-- very informative

maybesheis
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby maybesheis » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:44 pm

I love closed book exams. My good memory makes up for my lack of essay writing skills. Just remember that all of your exams up until law school were probably closed book, and you did fine on those. Tips:

Flashcards -- Use Quizlet and get the app on your phone and practice whenever you can. Make the cards long at first, then shorter as you learn the material. Most of mine were only a couple of words to job my memory. Quizlet also has a GREAT quiz yourself function, where you can type your answers or do matching games. It is time consuming, but you can just cut and paste info from your outline onto the flash cards to save time. I personally gave my boyfriend my outline, explained what I wanted him to do, and he did it for me.

Outline -- Make your own outline, then test yourself on it. I make my outline, then make a new document and delete all of the substantive stuff, so I can print out the blank document and try to fill it in from memory. I learn better by handwriting, so I tried to write my outline from memory over and over.

Others have recommended not remembering the cases, but that is really up to your professor. Some of mine would give a section of short right/wrong questions about the holdings of cases, or maybe CA specific rules. Check old exams to see what your professor prefers.

random5483
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Re: How to Prepare for a Closed Book Exam

Postby random5483 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:32 pm

Closed book exam = Everything is from memory so the focus is the BLL. Make sure you know enough to spot issues well and memorize the relevant BLL.

Open book exam = Almost exactly like closed book. Need to memorize the BLL and be good at issue spotting. You won't have time to refer to materials often. However, depending on the type of exam, you might have time to reference materials.


I basically study almost identically for a closed or open book exam. For a closed book exam I usually have a shorter outline that I memorize word for word. For an open book exam I usually have a longer outline that I am familiar with and have the BLL portion memorized word for word. The longer outline is something I reference if I absolutely need to, but I mainly rely on memory.




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