1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

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EKR11
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1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby EKR11 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:42 pm

At this point in the semester, my biggest concern is making sure that on exam day I am able to articulate my ideas thoroughly and in an organized manner.

Finals are about a month and a half away and I would really appreciate any and all suggestions on how to improve my writing structure and thoroughness. I know taking practice exams will help, but I'd really like to build a solid approach for writing an exam answer before I start practicing. Unfortunately, I missed the LEEWS class in my area and am unaware of any similar course that may be out there. With that being said, I really need some suggested paths to pursue that are viable on such a tight schedule.

Also, I have purchased Getting to Maybe, but I have found little time to sit down and actually read it. From those of you who have read it and found it useful, are there any specific chapters in the book that you considered to be most helpful?

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kalvano
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby kalvano » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:01 pm

Charles Whitebread, 8 Secrets To Exam Performance.

Buy.

Read.

Profit.

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Lacepiece23
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby Lacepiece23 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:35 pm

EKR11 wrote:At this point in the semester, my biggest concern is making sure that on exam day I am able to articulate my ideas thoroughly and in an organized manner.

Finals are about a month and a half away and I would really appreciate any and all suggestions on how to improve my writing structure and thoroughness. I know taking practice exams will help, but I'd really like to build a solid approach for writing an exam answer before I start practicing. Unfortunately, I missed the LEEWS class in my area and am unaware of any similar course that may be out there. With that being said, I really need some suggested paths to pursue that are viable on such a tight schedule.

Also, I have purchased Getting to Maybe, but I have found little time to sit down and actually read it. From those of you who have read it and found it useful, are there any specific chapters in the book that you considered to be most helpful?


I'm a 1L as well so take this advice for what its worth but i think reading getting to maybe internalizing it and maybe top 8 secrets would be worth way more than reading your casebook at this point. Maybe you don't know a particular rule or rationale on the final as well if you wouldn't have skimmed or skipped readings for exam prep, but I can almost promise you that you will probably pick those points up somewhere else because you took the time to understand how to properly write an exam. Just my two cents.

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pjo
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby pjo » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:44 pm

Just get the audio version of LEEWS and set aside a Saturday to do the whole thing (if you still want to go the LEEWS route). Maybe try reading the articles posted by TLS users (in the top articles heading). It's tough to recommend something that will substantively help you but also won't take a long time to do (like reading a book like GTM). Honestly though, the best way to get better at taking exams is to just take more exams (and go over them with other people). For example, you can read a million books about basketball and talk to all the pros about their secrets, but if you never actually pick up a ball and play, you'll probably never be all that great.

EKR11
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby EKR11 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:10 pm

kalvano wrote:Charles Whitebread, 8 Secrets To Exam Performance.

Buy.

Read.

Profit.


Lucky for me I'm in the library and there are 2 copies available. I am checking it out now.

pjo wrote:Just get the audio version of LEEWS and set aside a Saturday to do the whole thing (if you still want to go the LEEWS route). Maybe try reading the articles posted by TLS users (in the top articles heading). It's tough to recommend something that will substantively help you but also won't take a long time to do (like reading a book like GTM). Honestly though, the best way to get better at taking exams is to just take more exams (and go over them with other people). For example, you can read a million books about basketball and talk to all the pros about their secrets, but if you never actually pick up a ball and play, you'll probably never be all that great.


I'm not sold on LEEWS. I just like the idea that it is in a classroom setting and taught the methodology in one day, which would allow me to put the method to use ASAP. As soon as I get some sort of foundation I will definitely begin to practice, but I feel like without the initial foundation my practice will be far less beneficial.

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kalvano
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby kalvano » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:20 pm

I did LEEWS. The Whitebread book is 100X better for exam prep. It walks you through basic preparation and outlining on an exam answer, and is spot-on. I did much, much better on exams using that.

ShitLawOrBust
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby ShitLawOrBust » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:23 am

1. spew outline onto exam under guise of analysis
2. ????
3. profit

it's really that simple

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I.P. Daly
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby I.P. Daly » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:49 am

Reviewing model bar exam answers might be helpful.

blackandyellow
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby blackandyellow » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:33 am

Just remember one thing...
rules + facts = analysis

Argue like this:

X would be liable for battery because under X Rule .... In our case the facts....... Y rule it says ...... However Y rule does not apply because........ Therefore X rule should apply and he should be liable for battery.


I also love using case names and referring to case names on exams.

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TTH
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby TTH » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:03 pm

1. You'll never go wrong with IRAC.

2. Sketch a brief outline of your answer before you start writing—don't write anything out; just put enough on your scratch paper to remind yourself what you were going to write about.

Say it's a torts exam and the fact pattern is Bobby Barista shows up to work at Starbucks and spills some coffee on the floor before he punches in. He punches in but doesn't clean it up. Danny Deliveryman walks into to deliver a package and slips on the coffee hurting himself. He gets up all mad and punches Bobby in the face when Bobby rushes to help. The other employees wrestle Danny to the ground until the police arrive. The prompt is to analyze claims and defense of all parties. Your outline might look something like (bracketed text wouldn't be in the outline, it's just there to explain my shorthand):

Danny
I. Simple Negligence (against Bobby)
A. Duty
B. Breach
C. Causation
D. Harm
E. Defenses
II. Respondeat Superior for Simple Negligence (against Starbucks)
A. Employer-Employee Relationship
B. Pursuant to Employment
III. Premises Liability (against Starbucks)
A. Classify [i.e. Invitee, Licensee, Trespasser]
B. Duty to Class
C. Breach
D. Defenses — Open and Obvious
IV. False Imprisonment (against Starbucks)
A. Restraint
B. Unprivileged
C. Um . . . other elements [ahh . . . 3L livin]
D. Defenses

Bobby
I. Battery (against Danny)
A. Act
B. Intent
C. Contact
D. Harm
E. Defenses
II. Negligence (against Starbucks)
A. Yadda Yadda Elements
B. BUT — No Fault Worker's Compensation System

Now, you probably wouldn't even list out the elements of each tort in your outline, I just got a little carried away, but the point is to have something so that when you're 800 words into a question, you can look up and see exactly what you still need to cover.

3. Pay attention to the value of the question. My biggest exam writing flaw is to drill entirely too deep on the first question and not leave time to work on later parts of the exam. If your professors are kind enough to give recommended times for the exam, stick to them. If not, breakdown the value of each question relative to the exam as a whole and budget your time accordingly.

4. Write simply. Avoid complex grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. 95% of professors don't grade on the quality of the writing itself, merely the ability of the writing to convey the analysis.

ShitLawOrBust
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby ShitLawOrBust » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:47 pm

ShitLawOrBust wrote:1. spew outline onto exam under guise of analysis
2. ????
3. profit

it's really that simple

LSATNightmares
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby LSATNightmares » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:45 am

You don't need any of those books. I echo the comments on the important of IRAC (or PRAC if you call it that). Just do what you did in your writing class when approaching a legal issue, but without so much attention to fine writing. And just argue both sides... identify splits in the law (e.g. one jurisdiction says this, another says that) and splits in the facts (you could read the facts this way, but also that way). But always in the end come out on one side. A lot of people don't use those preparation materials, and they get A's.

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somewhatwayward
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby somewhatwayward » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:25 am

Your focus should be to write as simply as possible and use lots of headings....for example, if you are doing a negligence question, you should have a separate heading for each element (duty, breach of duty, actual cause, proximate cause, and harm). You want to make your exam as easy as possible for the teacher to read and grade.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:46 am

8 secrets to top law school exam performance.

Anyone disregarding that book never read it. It answers this simple question - "so I've made an outline, great. Now how the fuck do I answer questions on an exam better than everyone else?"

IRAC is important, but it's not enough - everyone knows IRAC, and everyone will use it. Saying use IRAC is like saying "know BLL." Well, yeah, but what else to distinguish my answers from my peers? There is a reason that book gets recommended, it's 100 half-sized pages, you can read it in an hour or so, it costs three dollars, and you will write better exams after reading it. Period.

I swear by it because I read it three days before my first exam 1L year, totally followed its plan (I had no idea what I was really going to do with all this knowledge I crammed in my head once I sat down for the exam - no one in law school ever tells you HOW to take an exam), and was #1 in my class.

Here is what makes it so good - it gives you a PLAN. Exams are a GAME. It isn't about knowing more - many of your peers will know as much as you. It is about SCORING POINTS. It teaches you exam STRATEGY to rack up POINTS.

You have nothing to lose - read it.

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kalvano
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby kalvano » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:49 am

Yeah, what he said. Went from B's to A's after having read and utilized that book.

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ThreeRivers
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby ThreeRivers » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:52 pm

Felt I could write exam well without ever really reading any of this stuff. I read the threads on TLS, got the point - apply fact to law, argue both sides, scoop in, scoop out, collect points, etc... Then I took a practice exam and basically had no structure, oddly put stuff everywhere, ended up not really applying stuff I knew, etc..

Think I need some structure now.

I thought GTM was just basically "argue both sides," is it worth a read still?

Would I be better just reading 8 simple rules, or would reading both be a good idea?

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20130312
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby 20130312 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:54 pm

ThreeRivers wrote:Felt I could write exam well without ever really reading any of this stuff. I read the threads on TLS, got the point - apply fact to law, argue both sides, scoop in, scoop out, collect points, etc... Then I took a practice exam and basically had no structure, oddly put stuff everywhere, ended up not really applying stuff I knew, etc..

Think I need some structure now.

I thought GTM was just basically "argue both sides," is it worth a read still?

Would I be better just reading 8 simple rules, or would reading both be a good idea?

I read both. Felt like they say similar things, but both have something different to offer. No idea if they helped yet, since I haven't taken any exams. I'd recommend them both, just because different things work for different people.

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ThreeRivers
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby ThreeRivers » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:56 pm

InGoodFaith wrote:
ThreeRivers wrote:Felt I could write exam well without ever really reading any of this stuff. I read the threads on TLS, got the point - apply fact to law, argue both sides, scoop in, scoop out, collect points, etc... Then I took a practice exam and basically had no structure, oddly put stuff everywhere, ended up not really applying stuff I knew, etc..

Think I need some structure now.

I thought GTM was just basically "argue both sides," is it worth a read still?

Would I be better just reading 8 simple rules, or would reading both be a good idea?

I read both. Felt like they say similar things, but both have something different to offer. No idea if they helped yet, since I haven't taken any exams. I'd recommend them both, just because different things work for different people.

Are both a quick read? I've heard GTM is... For example, can I set a day aside and hammer through both of them?

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20130312
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Re: 1L Desperately Seeking Writing Advice!

Postby 20130312 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:57 pm

ThreeRivers wrote:
InGoodFaith wrote:
ThreeRivers wrote:Felt I could write exam well without ever really reading any of this stuff. I read the threads on TLS, got the point - apply fact to law, argue both sides, scoop in, scoop out, collect points, etc... Then I took a practice exam and basically had no structure, oddly put stuff everywhere, ended up not really applying stuff I knew, etc..

Think I need some structure now.

I thought GTM was just basically "argue both sides," is it worth a read still?

Would I be better just reading 8 simple rules, or would reading both be a good idea?

I read both. Felt like they say similar things, but both have something different to offer. No idea if they helped yet, since I haven't taken any exams. I'd recommend them both, just because different things work for different people.

Are both a quick read? I've heard GTM is... For example, can I set a day aside and hammer through both of them?

If you're looking for a quick read, 8 Rules is it. Huge print and only ~150 pages. GTM is a little more dense, but maybe you could do both in a day.




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