Question re: "Know What Your Prof. Is Looking For" on Exams

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
User avatar
scifiguy
Posts: 575
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:41 pm

Question re: "Know What Your Prof. Is Looking For" on Exams

Postby scifiguy » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:41 pm

So there've been quite a few threads recently on who succeeds in law school and why and a key component as been the ability to take a law school exam, which many people have suggested is kind of mysterious to a lot of incoming 1L's.

Even more specific is that people have also said to know waht your professor is looking for.

My question is how do you go about doing that in law school. Assuming the professor doesn't just come right out and explicity say he's looking for X, Y, and Z on the exam, what methods to you guys have for figuring this out. Also, do professors' grading rubrics differ by a wide margin from one another frequently in law school? If so, I could see how it might be a pain trying to learn one style of exam taknig for one prof. and a different from another and so on.

User avatar
cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: Question re: "Know What Your Prof. Is Looking For" on Exams

Postby cinephile » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:48 pm

Model answers can help, also repeating verbatim the exact phrases the professor uses in class, also asking an upperclassman who did well on his or her exam. Also, going to office hours and getting to know the prof and what he or she wants. And yes, it varies from professor to professor.

User avatar
scifiguy
Posts: 575
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:41 pm

Re: Question re: "Know What Your Prof. Is Looking For" on Exams

Postby scifiguy » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:49 pm

cinephile wrote:Model answers can help, also repeating verbatim the exact phrases the professor uses in class, also asking an upperclassman who did well on his or her exam. Also, going to office hours and getting to know the prof and what he or she wants. And yes, it varies from professor to professor.


Thanks.

Do you find it ever differs drastically, though?

User avatar
scifiguy
Posts: 575
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:41 pm

Re: Question re: "Know What Your Prof. Is Looking For" on Exams

Postby scifiguy » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:51 pm

Also, do profs ever just flat out say what they're looknig for?

It almost seems like ti's a game in law school where they prof. doesn't tell you and you're trying to guess. Why not train you how to do a good job by laying out a structure?

User avatar
spleenworship
Posts: 4421
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:08 pm

Re: Question re: "Know What Your Prof. Is Looking For" on Exams

Postby spleenworship » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:03 am

scifiguy wrote:Also, do profs ever just flat out say what they're looknig for?

It almost seems like ti's a game in law school where they prof. doesn't tell you and you're trying to guess. Why not train you how to do a good job by laying out a structure?


1. Sometimes.

2. Hiding the ball is required by law schools. Otherwise you could finish in a year.


Seriously though: model answers, repeated phrases, emphasis in class on certain BLL or policy, go to office hours.

User avatar
cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: Question re: "Know What Your Prof. Is Looking For" on Exams

Postby cinephile » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:03 am

scifiguy wrote:Do you find it ever differs drastically, though?


Yes. There was one professor who wanted us to write in the form of a memo (so super long and organized), another who wanted typical IRAC but not a full length memo, another who wanted 100-250 word answers, and another who wanted answers in 25 words or less. Also, there was some multiple choice. So yes, varies drastically. Also, some professors wanted perfect grammar and spelling and would take off points if it wasn't perfect, also those who wanted organized answers. But there were others who were cool with rambling stream of consciousness answers, as long as you hit the issues and analyzed them all, they didn't care how much of a mess the answer was.

scifiguy wrote:Also, do profs ever just flat out say what they're looknig for?

It almost seems like ti's a game in law school where they prof. doesn't tell you and you're trying to guess. Why not train you how to do a good job by laying out a structure?


Some professors do and some don't. Some have model answers that they wrote themselves, some give you the best student answers they got, and some don't give any at all. Some give great information prior to the exam as to what they're looking for, but some don't.

They have zero incentive to train you to give them the response they want. No matter what, only a certain % of the class can get a certain grade, so they can explain it really well, but then the curve will be super tight, or they can not explain it at all and some people will just naturally on accident give them the style and structure they want. Either way, only a certain percentage of the class can get an A and it really doesn't matter.

User avatar
lisavj
Posts: 275
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:42 pm

Re: Question re: "Know What Your Prof. Is Looking For" on Exams

Postby lisavj » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:23 am

I read at least one paper from each of my profs. That gave me an idea of both the areas of law they were interested in and their preferred writing style. I actually copied an argument from one profs paper (structure not word for word) on her exam in response to a policy question.

After I knew what pulled profs interest, I watched law blogs in the area of the class (yep, there's some for torts, contracts, etc) and noted cases either at the state level or SCOTUS that were decided around the start of the term when profs were probs thinking about exams. (Was able to guess one of the cases behind a fact pattern on an exam - #nailedit - and impressed the heck outta the prof too.)

Worked for me...of course I haven't done that much work this quarter, and my grades have dropped a bit.




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 4 guests