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Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:31 pm
by 20160810
Does anyone know of a free program for Mac that lets me make flowcharts?

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:42 pm
by Leeroy Jenkins
betasteve wrote:Random question:
Let's say one of the issues is a battery claim... and say the "harmful contact" is obvious but the intent element may not be... Do you still bring a fact in to support that the contact was harmful? Do you dutifully make out a prima facie case or just talk about the contentious issue, doing something like including "since the contact was harmful"

Depends on your professor.

Some professors may stress that an 'issue' is something that could go either way, not something that is clearly established as a matter of fact or law, and so will not give you any points for pointing out the obvious.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:52 pm
by Kohinoor
betasteve wrote:
Matthies wrote:
betasteve wrote:Random question:
Let's say one of the issues is a battery claim... and say the "harmful contact" is obvious but the intent element may not be... Do you still bring a fact in to support that the contact was harmful? Do you dutifully make out a prima facie case or just talk about the contentious issue, doing something like including "since the contact was harmful"



Nothing is ever obvious on a law school exam. “Since the contact was harmful” is a conclusion you won’t get any points for. Explain why the contact was harmful, if its obvious then do it quickly, but don’t make assumptions/conclusions without explaining why you came to that assumption/conclusion or your leaving points on the table.

so in a case where the "harmful contact" was a gunshot, something like "since the gunshot was clearly harmful contact..." then if the real issue is intent... go from there...?

That seems conclusory. On my midterm, when it came to throw-away issues, I explained why they were being dismissed.

His childhood domicile is not a basis for an assertion of jurisdiction in this case. Per Milliken, a court may assert jurisdiction over a person based upon domicile only when that person is currently domiciled within the forum.


Instead of:
His childhood domicile is clearly not a basis for jurisdiction.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:25 pm
by vanwinkle
I just now got done with my one graded midterm. I did 1800 words in 70 minutes. Under a 3-hour test, if I kept that rate up, it'd be around 4600 words. And, of course, that's my first test; as I get more practiced and comfortable I'm sure my word count will substantially increase.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:50 pm
by steve_nash
RonSantoRules wrote:If the prompt of the question is something like "discuss the rights and liabilities of all parties," you have better be pumping out around 1250-1500 words per hour. You need to keep in mind that generally law school exams are graded based on "earning" points. Thus, instead of a normal Ugrad exam in which you start with 100 points and lose points for everything you get wrong, on a law school exam you start with zero points and the goal is to rack up as many points based on issue spotting/policy/secondary issues. If you are only typing 800 words, someone else is going to be spotting more issues and racking up more points.


+1. Whenever I've gone to see my professors after the exam, and looked at their grading sheet, it has been a pure checklist. I don't write eloquent answers--I mostly write declaratory, short sentences that give the issue and analysis. I think it's worked because professors can easily follow my answer when they are using their checklist. However, I tailored my answer for one class because I knew that the professor counted writing style as part of her bonus points ; it turned out to be a very easy exam, so I think my use of alliteration and some other dumb stuff I threw in there helped.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:39 pm
by just a girl
I wrote 23 pages in EBB for my torts exam-I think it was roughly 7500 words. I also made a checklist for the exam and ran through it as I read the hypos, which I think helped a lot. It was similar to what I would imagine the professor created for grading, and it made writing the answers a whole lot easier.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:02 pm
by macattaq
SoftBoiledLife wrote:Does anyone know of a free program for Mac that lets me make flowcharts?


I just use MS Word. It works pretty well, and since I'm a crazy perfectionist, I had my flowchart for murder memorized by the time I finished it. You can also use the Circusponies Notebook program to make them. Its a bit cleaner to do so, but...I guess I just like making my final product in Word.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:37 pm
by A'nold
Why does everyone like these flowcharts so much? Examples?

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:40 pm
by Matthies
A'nold wrote:Why does everyone like these flowcharts so much? Examples?


I think for some poeple they make the concepts flow together more. I was never a flow chart guy myself, but some classmates loved them and my friend had this gaint wall poster flow chart for tax that looked really cool.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:48 pm
by Cavalier
A'nold wrote:Why does everyone like these flowcharts so much? Examples?

I think it's the best aid for dealing with professors who insist that you mention everything, even if it's hardly an issue. Also, it's kind of nice for things like UCC 2-207.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:17 pm
by 20160810
Just had another midterm today. 45 minutes, wrote about 1800 words. I feel like law school tests just cause me to word vomit, but I type pretty rapidly too.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:43 pm
by pithypike
The feeling I have walking out of LS exams is pretty close to what I felt leaving the LSAT. Drained. Exhausted. Apathetic.......

I wrote 1500 words in an hour and a half. Sounds like I need to step it up, although I did write twice as much as most people I talked to.....

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:46 pm
by ToTransferOrNot
SoftBoiledLife wrote:Just had another midterm today. 45 minutes, wrote about 1800 words. I feel like law school tests just cause me to word vomit, but I type pretty rapidly too.


You're probably doing it right, then.


Re flowcharts: I found them helpful for the questions that you want to make sure you don't miss any "gimmie" points by leaving out obvious stuff. If you have a UCC question, and a term is being used that is defined in the (I don't remember the exact section... 1-201 for general definitions that apply to the entire code, 2-201 for defs that apply just to Article 2) code, you want to make sure you say "UCC 2-201 defines a widget as blahblahblah."

Similar thing... "[blah blah blah seller's rights] A seller's general rights are listed under section X. In this situation, the seller would want Y remedy, pursuant to section Z of the code. [Explain why, and his chances of getting it.] Failing that, seller would want Q remedy, pursuant to section U of the code]" etc. etc. etc.

Essentially, I found flowcharts to be helpful for finding the "forks" that GTM rants about. I used checklists for a similar purpose.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:26 pm
by macattaq
A'nold wrote:Why does everyone like these flowcharts so much? Examples?


I'm a visual learner. It is much easier for me to memorize information based on what it looks like. Flowcharts are the best way for me to do this.

Example? PM me your email address and I'll send you my homicide flowchart from summer.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:50 am
by samiseaborn
I came in at 1200 for about an hour exam which clearly isn't enough. I found I wasted a lot of time backspacing and fixing typos, which I'm guessing I probably shouldn't do? I think I also need a lesson in how to 'word vomit', though I did get better towards the end of the the exam when I panicked over time, I never thought being calm going into the test would actually be a bit of a set back....

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:15 am
by IHeartNewYork
I did a 3-hour midterm yesterday with a 1000 word limit. I spent half of that time cutting out words so I could make room for the other points I still had to mention. My prof is really policy-oriented too so I had to try and fit those issues in there, and I didn't even get to cover all of the points that I wanted to. I pared it down to exactly 1000 in the end (including the headings and the phrase "word count: 1000" because those count too :roll: ) Word limits are so frustrating!

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:54 am
by ToTransferOrNot
IHeartNewYork wrote:I did a 3-hour midterm yesterday with a 1000 word limit. I spent half of that time cutting out words so I could make room for the other points I still had to mention. My prof is really policy-oriented too so I had to try and fit those issues in there, and I didn't even get to cover all of the points that I wanted to. I pared it down to exactly 1000 in the end (including the headings and the phrase "word count: 1000" because those count too :roll: ) Word limits are so frustrating!


That kind of oppressive word limit is just absurd on any exam or midterm. I can understand putting some limit on the exam so that people who type fast aren't at such an advantage, but 1,000 words for a 3-hour exam is absurd.

I had a 2,000 word limit on my Con Law final last year. I finished the exam in an an hour and 45 minutes--had to spend the rest of the time deleting words so that I could try to get a point or two more in to the answer. There's no excuse--it is professor laziness, period. To top it off, this same professor ended up getting grades back well after the grade deadline! By comparison, another one of my profs (who did Con Law and Civ Pro II) had no word limits on her exams, people frequently wrote 20+ double-spaced pages. She was in the very first batch of reported grades.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:38 pm
by A'nold
Word limits or page limits are messed up, IMO. Hurts the curve.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:51 pm
by Dick Whitman
macattaq wrote:
A'nold wrote:Why does everyone like these flowcharts so much? Examples?


I'm a visual learner. It is much easier for me to memorize information based on what it looks like. Flowcharts are the best way for me to do this.

Example? PM me your email address and I'll send you my homicide flowchart from summer.


Flowcharts can also be a phenomenal tool for organizing your exam answer. E.g. personal jurisdiction question: specific or general?; if specific, interntional tort?; etc.

You can wind up with so many branches that it's difficult to keep track of with a linear outline.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:52 pm
by samd0001
Think about the following scenario:

J, K, and L take an exam. Both J, K and L write 17 pages in answers, each student totaling 6000 words. All of the students are extremely bright and read the questions at the same speed and answer immediately taking exactly the same amount of time in all other regards. Except that J types at 150 words per minute (wpm), whereas K types 50 wpm, and L only types 25 wpm. How long (minutes) will it take J and T respectively to finish their exams? [The only variable is J and T's typing speed. Assume everything else remains constant.]

Answer -
J finishes in 40 minutes
K finishes in 2 hrs
L finishes in 4 hrs

The typical exam in law school is for 3 hrs. J has the luxury of 2 hours and 20 minutes more to think about his answers, polish them, and make them more concise. He can also reread the questions, write about secondary issues, etc. K has one hour to do what J had over two hours to do. L hasn't even finished!

Should a law school exam give so much weight to typing speed? Does typing faster make us better lawyers? Even if it does, will a poorer typer be commensurately poorer as a lawyer? That sounds on its face ridiculous, or else it seems to me we would pay secretaries with great typing skills much more. Are the advantages faster typers get disproportionate? in my opinion, Law school exams ought to measure skill and aptitude in the law, not typing ability. That law school exams currently give so much weight to meritorious typing rather than meritorious lawyering is a major flaw that must be fixed if exams are to more accurately measure legal ability.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:02 pm
by biggamejames
I think I write around 3-4000 words per exam, on average. I also usually finish with everything (including reading it over to see if I missed anything) about 20-30 minutes early. I don't make super grades, but I'm a fair bit above the curve at my school. It think it all depends on your own personal style; I like to sit and think about things for a good long time before writing anything, so that by the time I start writing, I already know what I think about the fact pattern. That said, the volume approach seems to work better for most people.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:28 pm
by edcrane
samd0001 wrote:Should a law school exam give so much weight to typing speed? Does typing faster make us better lawyers? Even if it does, will a poorer typer be commensurately poorer as a lawyer? That sounds on its face ridiculous, or else it seems to me we would pay secretaries with great typing skills much more. Are the advantages faster typers get disproportionate? in my opinion, Law school exams ought to measure skill and aptitude in the law, not typing ability. That law school exams currently give so much weight to meritorious typing rather than meritorious lawyering is a major flaw that must be fixed if exams are to more accurately measure legal ability.


I think you're greatly overestimating the importance of typing speed. Many professors prefer concise, highly focused answers to long winded tomes that bury right answers in volumes of surplusage. My unimpressive 50 WPM typing certainly didn't hinder me during 1L.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:28 pm
by 270910
edcrane wrote:
samd0001 wrote:Should a law school exam give so much weight to typing speed? Does typing faster make us better lawyers? Even if it does, will a poorer typer be commensurately poorer as a lawyer? That sounds on its face ridiculous, or else it seems to me we would pay secretaries with great typing skills much more. Are the advantages faster typers get disproportionate? in my opinion, Law school exams ought to measure skill and aptitude in the law, not typing ability. That law school exams currently give so much weight to meritorious typing rather than meritorious lawyering is a major flaw that must be fixed if exams are to more accurately measure legal ability.


I think you're greatly overestimating the importance of typing speed. Many professors prefer concise, highly focused answers to long winded tomes that bury right answers in volumes of surplusage. My unimpressive 50 WPM typing certainly didn't hinder me during 1L.


I think you're confusing 'typing speed' with 'typing volume', then also confusing 'typing volume' with 'inherent lack of quality' ;)

The whole point is that all else being equal if you type and think faster you'll probably get down more and better law. Spending time learning to think faster (practicing, knowing the material well) is certainly orders of magnitude more important than being able to type faster. But if you happen to able to type faster, you may have the luxury of being less rushed on the exam, and that's nothing to scoff at.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:17 pm
by edcrane
disco_barred wrote:
edcrane wrote:
samd0001 wrote:Should a law school exam give so much weight to typing speed? Does typing faster make us better lawyers? Even if it does, will a poorer typer be commensurately poorer as a lawyer? That sounds on its face ridiculous, or else it seems to me we would pay secretaries with great typing skills much more. Are the advantages faster typers get disproportionate? in my opinion, Law school exams ought to measure skill and aptitude in the law, not typing ability. That law school exams currently give so much weight to meritorious typing rather than meritorious lawyering is a major flaw that must be fixed if exams are to more accurately measure legal ability.


I think you're greatly overestimating the importance of typing speed. Many professors prefer concise, highly focused answers to long winded tomes that bury right answers in volumes of surplusage. My unimpressive 50 WPM typing certainly didn't hinder me during 1L.


I think you're confusing 'typing speed' with 'typing volume', then also confusing 'typing volume' with 'inherent lack of quality' ;)


Not so. The relative advantage of typing quickly varies directly with the volume of words required to address every issue on a given exam. I don't dispute that there's always an advantage to typing faster, ceteris paribus, but I think it's typically much smaller than what the above poster envisions.

As to "inherent lack of quality," I think you'll be hard pressed to find many professors who prefer 20,000 word answers with objectively deeper analysis to 5,000 word answers that hit all the same issues but offer more "pruned" analysis (e.g., dismissing claims that have no real chance of succeeding in one sentence instead of five). Call me cynical, but I think most of them prefer answers that are easier and quicker to grade.

disco_barred wrote:The whole point is that all else being equal if you type and think faster you'll probably get down more and better law. Spending time learning to think faster (practicing, knowing the material well) is certainly orders of magnitude more important than being able to type faster. But if you happen to able to type faster, you may have the luxury of being less rushed on the exam, and that's nothing to scoff at.


Again, I conceded that there's some advantage. The question is how big is it. In some classes (I'm looking at you Torts), I suspect it is significant. In many, however, it is not.

Re: How many words (on average) do you write for exam answer?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:36 pm
by 270910
edcrane wrote:As to "inherent lack of quality," I think you'll be hard pressed to find many professors who prefer 20,000 word answers with objectively deeper analysis to 5,000 word answers that hit all the same issues but offer more "pruned" analysis (e.g., dismissing claims that have no real chance of succeeding in one sentence instead of five). Call me cynical, but I think most of them prefer answers that are easier and quicker to grade.


I'm operating under the assumption that the exam will be time pressured - ie given the available time, it is unlikely even a perfectly prepared student will hit all available issues. Obviously as you pointed out that tends to be more true in certain class (torts), but I'd say as a rule of thumb it's more likely to be true than not.

At some point though, I think we're really not disagreeing, we're just using slightly different words to get at the same point (typing speed can matter, but not nearly as much as other substantive prep, possible exception torts).