Take-Home v. Timed & Proctored

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
User avatar
Sogui
Posts: 621
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:32 am

Take-Home v. Timed & Proctored

Postby Sogui » Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:01 am

For me the differences between these two exam styles are night and day. There is a greater correlation between these exam types and my grades than any other factor that I can think of.

So as I drift through another year of exams I'm curious about what the other people here think about them. Can one be called superior? What does each method intend to/succeed at testing?

I'll put up more detailed thoughts in a bit, but basically I've become very cynical about 3-hour timed exams and I vastly prefer word-limited take home exams. To me it seems that the former rewards far too many skills that have little connection to what we are taught to expect to be tested on in law school.

Of course there are exceptions, I've seen some well-designed timed exams and I have seen take-home exams that do little to test critical thinking skills.

User avatar
OperaSoprano
Posts: 4410
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:54 am

Re: Take-Home v. Timed & Proctored

Postby OperaSoprano » Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:39 am

I sometimes think three hour, in class exams are meant to test grace under pressure. I understand this is a useful skill for an attorney, but I don't see any other purpose that is served by an in-class exam that could not be measured just as well by a take-home, provided both are open book (IE: emphasis not just on memory).

I do think in class exams are more likely to reward those who type fastest. With a strict word limit and enough time to rethink/edit, the 100+ WPM advantage gets a bit diluted on a take-home.

In class exams are the norm at my school, so I've adjusted my style to suit them (I get to writing right away, to compensate for modest typing speed). I still prefer take-homes where possible. It's a "play to your strengths" issue, and writing on my sofa in a vintage 1930s dressing gown is pretty awesome.

<--- currently enjoying insomnia/avoiding studying for evidence. Life as a 3L.

User avatar
Sogui
Posts: 621
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:32 am

Re: Take-Home v. Timed & Proctored

Postby Sogui » Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:13 am

OperaSoprano wrote:I sometimes think three hour, in class exams are meant to test grace under pressure. I understand this is a useful skill for an attorney, but I don't see any other purpose that is served by an in-class exam that could not be measured just as well by a take-home, provided both are open book (IE: emphasis not just on memory).

I do think in class exams are more likely to reward those who type fastest. With a strict word limit and enough time to rethink/edit, the 100+ WPM advantage gets a bit diluted on a take-home.

In class exams are the norm at my school, so I've adjusted my style to suit them (I get to writing right away, to compensate for modest typing speed). I still prefer take-homes where possible. It's a "play to your strengths" issue, and writing on my sofa in a vintage 1930s dressing gown is pretty awesome.

<--- currently enjoying insomnia/avoiding studying for evidence. Life as a 3L.


I inadvertently had this discussion with a professor who indicated that in-class placed far more emphasis on memorization and practice. Useful skills for an attorney I'm sure, but still not exactly what I enjoy being tested on. I've never had a word-limit for in-class exams and sometimes this leads to a frustrating hypocrisy in grading. Professors clearly design their exams so that you don't have enough time to discuss "all" the issues, but instead but intelligently pick out key issues and delegate your time to the most important aspects of those issues - yet in reality I've found about 50% of those classes end up posting model answers with some obscene word count that basically takes a shotgun approach to discussing the law. I'm not saying those answers were bad, but many of them lack any kind of intellectual exploration of the issues or creative approaches to a solution.

I mean hypothetically I can type at around 80WPM, but I find that typing in an exam environment leaves me puttering along at an average of 20WPM. How in god's name is an 12,000 word answer to a 3-hour exam supposed to be even remotely instructive for someone who will probably never break 6,000 words in that time period.

The last thing I find striking is that massive gap between these approaches sometimes. I mean last year I would have 2 similar common-law classes. One gives us 3.5 hours and posts previous model answers that all exceed 10,000 words. The other posts a similar "amount" of issues to be discussed but gives us 8 hours and a 2,000 word limit. From my experience, despite similar "classes" - the tests end up utilizing completely different skill-sets and the exam style ends up playing a bigger role in my final score than class attendance, reading, preparation, outlining, etc. combined.




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Feedfetcher, Mullens, Propain and 11 guests