Approach To The Con Law Exam?

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LawSchoolGeeky
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:53 pm

Approach To The Con Law Exam?

Postby LawSchoolGeeky » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:50 am

I'm a new 1L and looking for tips from someone who managed to do well on the con law exam... I find torts relatively "easy" (as that word can be defined in law school) in the sense that once you spot the issues you have a set of elements to spit out and analyze from there... But on con law I'm struggling with how to study and approach the exam because it's not fitting as neatly into little "boxes" for me with a set of elements or checklist of rules that help me organize and analyze. Any tips at all on how to approach the exam?

cavalier1138
Posts: 4447
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Approach To The Con Law Exam?

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:39 am

It's going to vary based more on your professor than the topic. Is your professor emphasizing a policy-based approach? Law and economics? How are they analyzing the concepts in class?

agnes_bean
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:32 pm

Re: Approach To The Con Law Exam?

Postby agnes_bean » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:03 pm

I agree with cavalier: It's going to be very based on your prof. In every class, looking at practice tests is key, but that goes triple for Con Law because exams there can look so different.

That said, once you see what kinds of questions your prof asks, I've actually found (both based on my own Con Law experience, and talking to other people about what their Con Law exams looked like) that Con Law is actually the one subject where you can often make up your own questions to practice on. If your prof likes to ask questions about current hot topics, think through how you'd resolve some of the upcoming SCOTUS cases, or other open issues your prof has talked about. If they like to ask about how you'd have written controversial past cases, try that out with a couple. And debate these questions with some smart friends, if you can. The goal here isn't to actually guess what questions will be asked (though I do know people who managed to do that because it was so obvious their prof was going to ask about gay marriage pre-Obergefell), but to get practice applying concepts like Substantive Due Process and Equal Protection. Because you're right, Con Law is notoriously unclear, and IMO by far the best way to start to get a feel for how the doctrines can work is to just start using them against different fact patterns, and to hear other people poke holes in your arguments. (To some extent this is true of every subject, which is why practice tests are so important in general. But I definitely found it extra true of Con Law.)

FWIW I think another thing to keep in mind when taking your Con Law practice exams/real exam is that in a lot of cases there is no right answer.* There can be wrong answers if you like, totally apply the wrong doctrine. But there can also be many good ways to attack the same problem. Like, take my example above of a prof who asked a pre-Obergefell class how they would rule on gay marriage. Assuming the prof was politics neutral, I could imagine A+ answers that found that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional based on Substantive Due Process grounds, as well as ones that found the same based on about three different EP grounds, and also ones that found it didn't violate the Constitution at all on either ground. What will matter is how well you explain your thinking, not which path you take.

*This is all caveated by it depends on your prof. Look at past practice tests/model answers and talk to older students to make sure this applies to your prof; I am sure there are some who do have certain right answers in mind.

LawSchoolGeeky
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:53 pm

Re: Approach To The Con Law Exam?

Postby LawSchoolGeeky » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:39 pm

Thanks that's helpful. My prof has said our rule statements will be our most important part and where we differentiate ourselves based on how well we can state the rule and do so in a concise way so that someone who knows nothing about con law could understand... He does seem to be emphasizing policy and has stated that he takes a "dead constitution" approach to teaching the constitution.




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