If you’re a law student looking for guidance about preparing for and taking exams, you might want to check out Open Book: Succeeding on Exams From the First Day of Law School (affiliate link). Written by two law professors — Barry Friedman, of NYU Law School, and John C.P. Goldberg, of Harvard Law School — the book connects the dots of the law school experience, explaining how what takes place in class relates to both final exams and the practice of law.
How has the book been received?
[Open Book] is something different and really worth recommending. Here are a few reasons why I would love my students to read the book and its online content.
First, the book imparts fabulous advice on why law profs give exams and how those exams directly connect to law practice and the whole law school endeavor.
Second, the website has so many practice exams (in all of the core areas) with marked up answers that explain the reasons behind the prof’s thinking and evaluation of the answers. This is an incredible help: students learn what worked on the exam and why.
Third, the joy that the authors take from teaching and the practice of law leaps off the page — it’s so clear how wonderful they are as teachers and mentors. Their enthusiasm and respect for what lawyers do is obvious and inspiring. The pedagogy will appeal to law professors, and it is an entertaining read, nicely illustrated. The website is full of useful content (those practice exams and feedback I talked about).
(Profs: to check it out, you need an access code to get to the premium content but can easily get one by writing them from the author contact page.)
Accompanying a book with a website of premium-content resources is a very cutting-edge idea. It’s nice to see law professors who embrace the web (instead of fearing it).
There are also some nice reviews on Amazon, like this one:
This book doesn’t make taking law school exams fun, but it does give you really helpful information about how to prepare for exams and do well on them. Of the exam books out there, Open Book is a good deal better — it’s an easy read and it provides practical tips on how to spot issues and write essays that will set you apart from the other students.
The approach here is to get inside your prof’s head (a place you don’t really want to be otherwise, but they are the ones who grade the exams so you might as well understand what they expect of you). Apply the advice and specific instructions for exam prep in this book, and you’ll get great results — this one really helped me.
Results are not guaranteed — as Professor Michael Murray says in his blurb, “[n]o book is a guarantor of better results” — so don’t rely on this book to your detriment. But for better or worse, law school grades, especially 1L grades, play a major role in the trajectory of a law student’s career. You might as well try to get whatever edge you can, right?
Open Book: Succeeding on Exams From the First Day of Law School [Amazon (affiliate link)]
Open Book [official website]
Suggested Reading (for Law Students and Profs): Open Book: Succeeding on Exams from the First Day of Law School [Concurring Opinions]