What Do Law School Professors Want to See on Your Exams?

If you’re a 1L (or if you will be soon), you probably would like to know exactly what your professors look for when grading your exams.

Our upcoming podcast, Law School Exam Prep:  Advice to Help You Make the Grade, gives you some inside perspective and also provides lots of good tips for those heading into first year exams in the coming months.

In this show, we talk with Ursula Furi-Perry, the Director of Academic Support and the Director of the Bar Essay Writing Program at Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.  She says   “First thing’s first, you’re looking at a fact pattern and that fact pattern is likely testing several different issues.  The first step to all of this is to be able to spot those issues.  And in building up this skill, you can take your professor’s past exams, you can take hypotheticals that you’ve gotten in class, you can take questions, whether it’s multiple choice or essay questions from review sources and materials, and you can look at those and you will notice that a lot of the times professors don’t tend to re-invent the wheel when it comes to exams.:

Furi-Perry says “the fact patterns get recycled.  The names and the places and some of the facts get changed, but the issues that are tested stay the same.  There is only a number of ways to test medical malpractice, for example, in a torts class.  So, if you’ve done your diligent work and you’ve taken the time to look at some of these past exams, then you will start to see some similarities.  And the next time you see that same type of fact pattern, theoretically, you should be able to pick up on that issue right away.  So issue spotting skills for sure. ”

Furi-Perry also gives us a good look at the importance of communicating clearly your knowledge of the law, great organization in your writing, and a storng and insightful analysis applying the law to the facts.

We also hear from Nicolle Kownacki, a 3L at UCLA School of Law.  She shares some valuable advice that worked for her in preparing for exams.  As each professor’s approach is different, she suggests students reach out to their professors.  ”Sometimes you leave just as mystified or in disagreement with the professor about a specific point, but one thing it has taught me is that different professors value different things about exams.  So, the next semester you go back and you start to think about what is the professor stressing in the class?  What is unique to this professor? Not going too overboard because at the end, a lot of law school exams are fundamentally the same, but there are different tweaks for each professor.  I think talking it through with them after really taught me how to look for that.”

This podcast is produced in collaboration with Ms. JD and features guests Ursula Furi-Perry,  the Director of Academic Support and the Director of the Bar Essay Writing Program at Massachusetts School of Law at Andover and one of Ms. JD’s 2010 Writers in Residence.  Guests also include Nicolle Kownacki, 3L at UCLA School of Law and Epiphanie Marquez,  3L at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law,  both 2010 Ms. JD Fellowship winners.

Also on the show is Barbara Lasoff, Senior Series Editor for Wolters Kluwer Law and Business (Emanuel Outlines)

Stay tuned for the full show.

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