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October 16, 2008

Reflections on the practice exam experience

As of this writing, a majority of students have had a chance to do the practice exam under simulated exam conditions.  For those who have not yet done the practice exam, I am now happy to make it available here on-line (and to continue to encourage looking at it only when prepared to use it as a serious exam-taking simulation):

Download practice_exam.rtf

I am eager to receive through comments here reflections on the practice exam experience. I would like to know, e.g., if anyone found the exam too easy (or too hard) to be a useful simulation, if there was other advice I should have given prior to the exam, if the practice exam should be extended to a full three hours or have more questions, etc.  (N.B.: In the next few weeks, after everyone has had a chance to work on the practice exam, I will be providing general feedback in the form of an outline of key issues on the exam and basic law school test-taking tips.)

In addition, I am eager to know if students would like another practice exam experience later in the semester.  I would be happy — perhaps around the time of Thanksgiving break once you have our research assignment and the contracts mid-term out of the way — to do another simulation using questions from old exams that cover topics from the second half of the course (like homicide and defenses).

October 16, 2008 in Preparing for the final | Permalink


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I am a bit of a range-Tiger sometimes (for non-golfers, that is when you’re on the practice range and hitting so well you think you’re Tiger Woods), and it was great practice to be using a new set of facts to consider the concepts we’ve learned.

Although re-reading the cases and hypotheticals was great for review, there’s nothing quite like considering a new hypothetical in light of everything that we’ve learned. After a while, the cases lose their freshness. For me, then, having that new set of facts drawing concepts from the semester thus far was a very good way to see just how inter-related all the material is. With this particular question, I felt comfortable spotting the issues (I think…), but the real challenge was justifying a defense in a way I felt was realistic and comported with the basic criminal law concepts. While that is obviously the point of an exam, as a timed practice exam the value for me has been to force me to re-examine the concepts, and I think ultimately after another round or two of review I’ll be more comfortable with them and applying them.

So, ironically, I’ve taken another look at a lot of the old cases and concepts over the past few days and am looking at them in a new and clearer way. I’ll gladly analogize to golf – it’s a bit like seeing where your weaknesses are while playing on the course and working on them on the practice range, so the next time you go out on the course you are more aware of what you need to do and/or take into consideration to make a decent shot.

I’ll certainly take another practice exam, and I think one that has multiple questions and was longer would be particularly useful for review.

Posted by: Aaron Cornell | Oct 18, 2008 6:59:27 PM

I would just like to echo what Aaron already said. This practice test was a great way to force me to review older cases and rework my outline. I would love to take another practice exam after Contracts is over and I think a more 'real' 3-hour exam would be even more beneficial. Although instead of simply focusing on topics from the second half of the course (maybe these could be the majority of the practice test), I think it would be helpful to also touch on the topics from the first half of the course as a refresher.

Posted by: Alexandra Wolfe | Oct 20, 2008 9:23:48 AM

I missed the first practice exam and would fully support a second.

Posted by: Brandon Huffman | Oct 20, 2008 11:14:23 AM

The practice exam was really useful. I definitely know what I need to refine on my outline now. I agree with above comments that another practice exam would be great.

Posted by: Maria | Oct 21, 2008 8:14:15 PM

My vote is for a full practice exam just before Thanksgiving but perhaps offering it as a take home available over the Thanksgiving break might be useful as well.

Posted by: Jake | Oct 22, 2008 10:06:16 AM

I like the idea of another practice exam as well. I don't particularly like the idea of the full 3 hour practice exam because of the time commitment but having multiple questions to use as practice material would be helpful. Perhaps instead of offering the same 3 hour exam at multiple times, you could just offer a few more one hour practice sessions but each one would have a different question so that people who want more exposure can simply go to all of the practice sessions (although I know this won't appeal to the people who want to be forced into spending 3 hours in a room with an exam).

Posted by: Steve | Oct 30, 2008 7:04:39 PM

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