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Wondering how to prepare for law school exams?

Wonder no more! It was our honor and privilege to write this guest post about how to prepare for law school exams on the Three Years of Death blog.

This is such a crucial topic right now since final exams are right around the corner. The earlier you start preparing for them, the better off you will be! Below is a short snippet of the post for those who are interested. I’d recommend reading the full post if you have the time.

To answer the question, “How can I prepare for  law school exams?” you have to answer the question: What do law school exams test?

Law school final exams test two things:

  • First, whether you know the law; and
  • Second, whether you are able to apply it to fact patterns.

So really the question, at a fundamental level is, “How I can I better learn and apply the law?”….

First, how do you learn the law?

The best way to learn the law is to outline and learn your outlines. Think of making an outline as putting pieces of a puzzle together. You organize the important bits and pieces from your class notes, your cases, and supplements and create a big picture of the law in your outline….the process of outlining – of putting the pieces together – helps you more than anything else!

What should you do when you’re done making your outline? You learn it! It is not enough to just have the outline (even if you have an open book exam!). You need to know your outlines as well as possible.

Second, how do I get better at applying the law?

You have to practice! Some students make the mistake of simply reading a lot of theory about how to get better at answering exam questions. They read books about how to answer exam questions and they obsess over different strategies and different ways to make arguments. And that’s fine – but it’s not enough. In reality, whether you use the IRAC method (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) or something else, the best thing you can do is practice taking exams. This is true whether your exam is essay exam (the most common), short answer, or multiple choice.

If you wanted to get better at tennis, you wouldn’t sit around and read books about how to play tennis all day – you’d go to the courts and actually practice!  So get a hold of as many past exams you can. Look at your professor’s past exams. Look online. Consult supplements such as Examples and Explanations supplements or Glannon guides, which usually have plenty of problems available for you to review.  Practicing will truly help you to perfect the skill of taking law school exams….

If you keep in mind that you will be tested primarily on whether you know the law and whether you can apply it to fact patterns – both now and during your final exam study period – you will be well on your way to succeeding on law school exams.