I prefer my final exam freak-out stories to be of this variety instead of a freaking remake of Quills.
You all know how much I appreciate a good final exam freak-out. Law students losing their minds under the crushing pressure of end-of-the-year exams is one of those things that makes my job fun.
But not today. Because I really don’t like fecal humor. If I’m going to talk about poo on the walls, I want to be making an elaborate, overwrought analogy about what I intend to do with the conservative opinion in Fisher. I don’t want to be talking about literal poop on an actual wall in a real law school.
Unfortunately, it looks like this semester’s top exam disassociative break involves: poop, walls, urinals, and a New York area law school…
The answer to the question of where you should be with just a couple of weeks until finals is “it depends.” Of course, every law student knows that almost every question can be answered with “it depends,” so the following will discuss what it depends on and why.
First, it depends how you learn. What I mean by that is that while most law students are busy outlining, the students I coach (at lawstudentcoach.com) are doing a variety of activities, some of which include outlining. Why do law students outline or study from outlines? The simple answer is that your exams will require you to show that you can work with the law and use the law in a manner that is structured and well thought out. It makes sense, then, to prepare in a manner that forces you to examine how the rules of law fit together, that forces you to categorize and to make decisions about what rules are related and how they are related. Creating an outline can thus be a very valuable study activity.
The downside of an outline, however, is that it works best for those who think in straight lines. In a traditional outline, things are related in only one or two possible ways. Concepts are either separate enough to be side-by-side or one concept is a subcategory of another. However, legal concepts often have a more complex relationship….
Lawstudentcoach.com works one-on-one with students to produce an individualized game plan for exam taking — individualized to the student and to the professor. This article will discuss some of the things that a student entering the exam with a game plan will do.
Your exam prep has been completed. The day of the exam has arrived. Here’s how using a game plan will ensure success.
First, the game plan should be based on use of this professor’s prior exams and by examination of what skills this professor models in class. Based on that, the student should enter the exam with a list of issues and concepts that are most likely to be on the exam. Write that list before reading the exam, and keep it in mind as you read. This will help with issue spotting in two ways: (1) it will be easier to spot the key issues if you have them in mind as you read; and (2) if your first read of the exam question does not appear to raise some key issue or group of issues, you want to review the question. Remember, the exam is not just about answering the question. It is about answering the question in a manner that earns the most points.
We talk about this twice a year. Sorry, I should say we are forced to talk about this twice a year. Every year. Because every semester, there are law professors out there who refuse to submit grades in a timely fashion.
I don’t know why. Professors have to work like nine or 12 hours a week, maybe eight months a year, and write a final exam and grade it. That’s what the students are paying them for. The rest, the research, scholarship, whatever glad handing they do on their path to tenure, is something they can do on their own time. On the student’s dime, they have to lecture, write exams, and grade them.
WHY DO SO MANY OF THEM FAIL TO DO THIS?
I don’t know the answer to that question. I may never know. Last semester, Columbia Law School threatened to fine professors who handed in late grades.
Columbia’s plan seems to be working, so maybe other New York area schools should give it a try….
The train to crazy town is now entering the station.
I was getting worried. It’s almost Christmas, and I hadn’t seen one really good “law student meltdown” during finals period. Until today. Today, the good students at Brooklyn Law School provided me with my favorite semiannual experience of following along as a law student cracks under the pressure over email for every one to see. It’s like watching Gollum scamper out on screen and thinking, “Yes, this is why I’ve committed 29 hours to see this movie.”
Allow me to set the stage. It’s a three hour exam: one hour of multiple choice, two hours of essays. The exam is being administered in two different rooms. The proctors are supposed to collect the multiple choice section after the first hour. And that happens in exam room 601. But in exam room 603, the proctors don’t collect the multiple choice; instead, they leave it with the students as they hand out the essay section. So, arguably students in room 603 had two “extra hours” to fiddle with the multiple choice section if they wanted to.
And this caused one Brooklyn Law student who took the exam in room 601 to basically lose his freaking mind and try to start a grassroots campaign to get the multiple choice section nullified.
It’s pretty funny, in a “crazy person loses his s*** in public” kind of way….
The only people who hate final exams as much as students are the professors who must eventually grade them. Some professors look at finals with open disdain. It takes them away from scholarship and they don’t even get the thrill of hearing themselves talk in a packed lecture hall.
Maybe it’s because so many professors hate giving exams that there seem to be so many screw-ups. Mistakes will happen, but often it doesn’t seem like schools have a clear plan of fixing mistakes in a way that is fair to all students.
NYU Law School has had its fair share of exam mishaps. It’s a long and embarrassing list.
But maybe NYU Law is finally starting to learn from past mishaps. Oh, the faculty still make mistakes when it comes time to administer exams, but this time the solution is that the professor is going to do extra work.
Then again, maybe it’s working extra hard after you’ve made an error that separates this famous NYU professor from the rabble….
Ah, finals period, that wonderful time when all law students are crushed under pressure, and some of them turn into diamonds. Others just crumble. And still others take the pressure and sadness and turn it into a brilliant fountain of creativity.
Well, that doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, it’s pretty fun. A law student turned a case brief into a Night Before Christmas poem. It’s funny. I mean, it’s borderline insane to do this with a brief, but it’s pretty funny. Let’s hope our author backs away from the keyboard slowly…
It’s finals time already. For professors, that means another semester is in the books. Sure they still have to grade the exams, but that’s what stairs are for.
With their teaching duties done, the faculty at the University of Memphis School of Law decided to have a holiday party, with a band, in the reading room of the library while students were studying for finals.
Kind of brings new meaning to the term “tone deaf,” doesn’t it?
Ed. note: This is the eighth installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Alison Monahan demystifies the law school exam.
The secret to doing well on law school exams is actually pretty simple: Deconstruct what you’re being asked to do, and then relentlessly focus on learning how to do it well.
No problem, right? So why does law school have such a ferocious reputation?
1. Everything’s graded on a curve. Even if you do well, someone else might do better. You’re competing against all of your very smart and accomplished classmates, not just displaying your personal knowledge.
2. The pedagogy is weird. Unlike most undergrad classes, law professors won’t spoon-feed you what you need to know. You essentially have to teach yourself, and what you discuss in class often bears little resemblance to what you’re expected to do on the exam.
3. You don’t get any practice. Most law school classes only have one exam, so you don’t get the chance to practice before game time. There’s a lot of pressure, and not everyone can handle it.
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