Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Exam Writing Styles

While talking to my friends about their exams, I've noticed that there seem to be two different ways that professors write their exams. My professors have written broad, far-reaching exams with fact patterns and an instruction, like in my Torts exam, to "Analyze all potential legal issues" that might exist. Although this is an almost impossible task to complete in 4 hours, it does give the test taker a chance to show off every relevant thing that they know. My strategy for those tests has been to identify as many legal issues as possible, do an IRAC for all of them, and write till the time runs out. I haven't run out of things to write about yet, which I take as a good sign. I'd be much more worried if I ran out of things to write about and left the test early.

The second type of test that I've heard people talk about is a more limited one. Typically, these will include one fact pattern, and give the entire exam period to analyze that one fact pattern. When the scope is more limited like this, an answer needs to be very accurate and tailored to the specific facts. But exams like this only test you on a limited part of the information you learned over the semester, so I can understand how this would be frustrating. The good side is that you can completely answer a question like this in 3 or 4 hours; the downside is that the standard of competition is raised, and you darn well better have answered it perfectly.

Which type would you rather take, and why?

No comments: