Taking a law exam can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! The following tips will help you ace your law school exams.
1. Practice Spotting Legal Issues. There are generally four parts to a law exam: issue, rule, analysis/application, and conclusion (IRAC). Learning to spot legal issues is probably the most important thing you can do. After all, if you don’t know the issues, you won’t be able to write the rules, the analysis, or the conclusion!
How do you learn to spot legal issues? You know those bizarre fact patterns (hypos) that you read in law school? Well, reading those over and over again will help you spot legal issues! In fact, the more hypos you read, the better you’ll become at spotting legal issues, and when you only have an hour or less to write an essay, you have to be able to spot the issues fast!
Remember, you’ll earn points for every issue that you spot. To practice spotting legal issues, read fact patterns (hypos) and guess the potential issues. Do this repeatedly until you’re able to spot issues quickly.
2. Memorize the Rules. You’ve spotted the issues, now you need to state the rules/black letter law. You only have an hour or less to write each essay, so there’s no time to waste. Like issue spotting, you’ll earn points for stating the rules, so you want to state as many rules as possible. This is where memorizing the rules comes in!
To ace your law school exams, you have to state the rules fast, and in order to do that, you absolutely need to have the rules memorized! Study the rules consistently throughout the semester and start memorizing the rules about two weeks before your exam.
3. Take Practice Exams. You spotted the issues and stated the rules, now you need to write a legal analysis and conclusion. The conclusion will be a piece of cake, but the analysis is a little more complicated. The legal analysis is the why section of your essay, in other words, why will D (the defendant) be held liable for assault?
The best way to learn how to write a good analysis is to take practice exams. Taking practice exams will not only help you write a good essay, but will give you an idea of the type of questions you might encounter on your law school exam. Check your law library for past exams.