The Format of a 1L exam

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Zionman
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The Format of a 1L exam

Postby Zionman » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:51 pm

What's the typical format of a 1L exam? And how are they usually graded (ie do grammar/spelling/style count)? Thanks in advance.

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drmguy
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Re: The Format of a 1L exam

Postby drmguy » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:54 pm

Zionman wrote:What's the typical format of a 1L exam? And how are they usually graded (ie do grammar/spelling/style count)? Thanks in advance.

It varies a lot. Most of my exams were pure issue spotting. One professor said he subjectively picks which ones feel the best to him.

I only had one professor that cared about grammar and spelling and that was an 8 hour take home.

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ilovesf
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Re: The Format of a 1L exam

Postby ilovesf » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:00 pm

Zionman wrote:What's the typical format of a 1L exam? And how are they usually graded (ie do grammar/spelling/style count)? Thanks in advance.

It totally depends. One of our professors graded on writing style and said the best grades would be awarded to "eloquent prose." One of my other profs had a model answer up where in one sentence I counted 6 typos, and almost every sentence had a type - but there was really good substance. Some tests are take home, some are multiple choice, and some are race horse where you get long fact patterns where you have to spot all the issues and talk about any potential legal liability.

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beachbum
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Re: The Format of a 1L exam

Postby beachbum » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:17 pm

During the past year, I've had an 8-hour take-home, two 24-hour take-homes, a word-restricted in-class exam, a traditional in-class exam that included a multiple choice section, and a traditional in-class (unlimited word) exam. I've had professors that simply go through the exam and award points for each issue spotted, professors that care almost exclusively about the depth/quality of your analysis on major issues, and professors that are somewhere in between those two approaches. I've had some professors that subtract points for incorrect information, and some that don't. I've had professors that seemed to care about writing style, and some that almost encouraged us to be as free-flowing as possible, giving no weight to how "pretty" our answers appeared. And this is just the tip of the iceberg; I could keep going.

So, in short, there is no "standard" 1L exam, and there is no "standard" way of grading an exam. General exam-taking techniques (such as those found in GTM) tend to hold true across exams, but beyond that it really depends on your professor. Which is why it's so critical to get a feel for what your professor likes, and to take practice exams.

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donniedarko
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Re: The Format of a 1L exam

Postby donniedarko » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:25 pm

In my experience:

(1) Torts = Racehorse exam, write as much as you possibly can, hit as many points as possible, closed book

(2) Contracts = Similar, however, it was not a single long fact pattern like torts, broken up, modified closed book

(3) Crim = Just like Torts as far as racehorse goes, with MC, open book

(4) Con Law = some professors make you memorize everything, find this out in the beginning

(5) Civ Pro = modified closed book, killer MC section, MC basically made or broke your grade, sad

(6) Property = Closed book racehorse. Has some short answer questions but bulk of points were from long answer questions with confusing fact patterns

GTM & LEEWS are gonna be your best friends. Take home exams are no cause for relief!

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drmguy
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Re: The Format of a 1L exam

Postby drmguy » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:35 pm

I'll follow the above poster's lead

Torts: This exam was pretty much pure luck. The list of issues was incredibly long, but the professor marked down for having too much unrelated information.

Contracts: Information dump with added points for being well structured

Crim: No set criteria

Conlaw: 8 hour take home. Grammar and style mattered

CivPro: 100% information dump with no marking down whatsoever. Last year's A+ was written terribly

Property: Mostly multiple choice. Small portion information dump with no marking down. Points added for writing well.

delusional
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Re: The Format of a 1L exam

Postby delusional » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:40 pm

There's a lot of weird ways that exams can drive you crazy. Some are horse races, where you think that it's all based on typing speed. Others have word limits that make the test impossible to grade meaningfully, since everyone will use their words to get 75% of the issues, and won't have room for the rest.
I found that take home exams had neither problem, since there's enough time even with word limits to make sure that your answer is as efficient as possible. I did have one professor who promised that his take home exam would leave us plenty of time to write a clear answer that would then be graded on arrangement of issues, and conciseness, etc. In the end we all agreed that it was an eight hour horse race.

It's important to think strategically about how to approach the test. If it's a horse race, it's more important that you know the types of issues that appear beforehand, and the patterns in which they appear. It's important to have an easy way to access the information super efficiently. On an eight hour exam, OTOH, thorough knowledge and analysis tends to be more important.




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