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Practice Exams


Ray wils

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Ray wils
  • Law Student

Hi All, 

I did poorly on my exams last semester, and I'm trying to buckle down here this semester. I keep reading "how to study for law school" and seeing "write as many practice exams as you can" to develop your IRAC and CREAC skills, but I can't find any practice exams. Is there a database somewhere similar to the LSAT prep books where it's just pages of make-believe fact patterns that you try and solve, and the ideal/ best answer is on the back for you to check it against? I've gotten a few past exams from some profs, but I feel bad for bugging them, as I'm sure some might be recycled to us on our finials.

 

Thanks for any help!!

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LMP
  • Articling Student

Have you met with your professors from last semester yet? I think the best thing to do right now is sit down with them and go over your exams. They'll probably be able to help you identify what's causing you problems. 

 

 

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Ray wils
  • Law Student

Hey LMP, I did with a few, and it wasn't as helpful as I thought it would be. For example, my crim prof was literally like, you don't know what you're doing, and I was like, thanks, I know that. It's why I'm here. And his recommendation was to get a tutor and work on fact patterns and issue spotting. The others helped out more and showed me where i went wrong and what not, but still its all just reading about the concepts until finals, no application of the context.

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Ray wils
  • Law Student

And, ps, I'm not one of these gunners trying to get perfect on the exam and get the top mark. I just got my ass whooped on the mid-terms and just trying to pass, lol 

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aurora borealis
  • Law Student

Not sure what school you're at, but at U of T the law library has a database of past exams (no answers included) and the student organization maintains a separate database of past exams and exam answers (with grade). Your university will probably (hopefully?) have something similar.

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Ray wils
  • Law Student
Just now, aurora borealis said:

Your university will probably (hopefully?) have something similar

I wish.

we do not, unfortunately.

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ForTheWin2022
  • Lawyer

Practice exams are ok to an extent, but the actual exams are usually a black box. I say this as someone who took all exam classes in law school. I did well on them, so I figured I would share some tips I found helpful:

1. Read the complete case if you can (crim can get tricky due to publication issues). It takes much longer, but it also allows you to understand the reasoning in most cases. I often loathed law school textbooks, as the excerpts often failed to explain concepts fully. Some Judges, whether appellate or trial, will usually have a reasonably detailed analysis (with the caveat being some practice areas- i.e. construction cases are fantastic for explaining a factual background, but they typically do not have extensive legal analysis because it is often a fact-specific inquiry). 

2. Get quotes in class. Some professors can be fairly narcissistic and love seeing their own words on an exam. If you can properly apply what they taught and have what they say word for word, it can help. Even if not, phrase things similarly to how they speak (do they discuss policy implications, things they think are wrong with the case/area of law, etc.).

3. Do not get bogged down on spelling and grammar. Some people tend to go back and ensure everything is spelled correctly and that they have written something 100% grammatically sound. Don't do that. Sure, you might lose some points if your professor is a stickler, but you gain more by finding more issues.

4. This worked for me subjectively, but write your own practice exams to practice and test them with study groups. Weeks before an exam, I would often draft hypotheticals based on my synthesized notes and discuss them with other students (I would ask professors to check them beforehand so I knew they were ok). It helped teach me the material as I went through and also allowed me to gain other students' perspectives on the law.

 

Edited by ForTheWin2022
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LMP
  • Articling Student
1 hour ago, Ray wils said:

Hey LMP, I did with a few, and it wasn't as helpful as I thought it would be. For example, my crim prof was literally like, you don't know what you're doing, and I was like, thanks, I know that. It's why I'm here. And his recommendation was to get a tutor and work on fact patterns and issue spotting. The others helped out more and showed me where i went wrong and what not, but still its all just reading about the concepts until finals, no application of the context.

Sorry to hear that, doesn't sound like they were really giving you quality feedback. 

You've got some good advice in this thread already but I'll toss my two cents in as well. 

Exams are, at their core, time trials. The longer it takes you to recall the information you need, the less time you have to construct your argument. Therefore the best remedy for time trouble is know the law. You're in 1L, most of your classes will resolve around a few core rules and applications. Know them inside out. Know the exceptions to them. Know the policy arguments in favour and against them.

This sounds like a prescription for rote memorization, but it is far from it. Issue spotting and simple application will get you to the median, but a through knowledge that allows you add an extra fact or justification is what puts you above the curve. 

If you find you're relying too much on your summary or notes, that probably means you don't have the base knowledge you need yet. Your summary should be there to remind you of that case or fact that you can't quite recall. Or nudge you to include some policy aspect your prof seems to love dropping whenever they can. 

Lastly, be judicious in your approach to exams. You may already do this but if you don't, take careful note of what each question is worth. Instead of trying to bullshit for 10 marks deliver a knockout on the question worth 40. Obviously try and get points down for everything but if you're wasting time grasping for straws you're probably better off building up your grade elsewhere.

 

 

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