It seems like taking a law school exam is a science. I think I've been simplifying the process. I just assumed that you learn your outline (i.e., the law) and then apply it to the facts on the exam.
Any suggestions on where I'm going wrong would be appreciated.
that *is* what you do. but the secret is knowing the law well enough to see every possible argument that can be raised without being ridiculous [ie. connecting all the dots while you outline] and knowing which issues you can bunch together where appropriate to maximize your points...and understanding how the different concepts can bounce off eachother. So this is where knowing the law REALLY WELL comes in. if you dont know it well enough, you cant spot the issues..you cant make the connections, and you cant throw every possible colorable argument in there.
next, is being able to argue both sides. so you are applying the law to the facts, as you said. take those concepts and use them in every way you can to argue for and against each side. pole holes in your own arguments.
i have found that if you start doing this WHILE outlining it helps to digest the law better. my outlines typically have little notes under concepts and rules like "Remember this when x doesnt work out, because in situations where x doesnt apply, y can apply. but then again, y also needs z, and so..etc etc etc]
I have found that learning the law REALLY WELL will get you to an A-/B+ [at my school at least, where we are on a B+ curve] but that means literally knowing everything you covered upside down, inside out, backwards, forwards, jumbled up, and anything else you can do it. Because in effect, knowing the law that well will help you formulate arguments for both sides. so, in my opinion [which could very well be wrong], even if you arent master applyer of law to facts, you can do well by knowing the law better than everyone else and doing a DECENT job of applying the law to the facts.
also, take practice exams.