GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona
I just took my 6th law school exam and my second one for this semester, and so far all of them have been slightly different. Here is an explanation of the different types and some tips to help you prepare.
Closed Book, with maybe an Open Code Book
Essay 3-4 hours
For this type of exam, still create an outline, but memorize it. You might get to use your code book so integrate that into your outline. Also, tabs are your best friend here. You don’t want to waste time flipping through a codebook when you just could have tabbed it. Also check with your professor about what, if any notes you can have in the codebook. The key here is to take a lot of practice exams. If your teacher doesn’t provide them, go online to find some and check out the 1L Mastery Course from BarBri.
Open Book, Open Notes
Essay 3-4 hours
Here, you can use your book, but it’s unlikely you will ever use it, unlike the codebook in the previous example. Your notes and outline are the most useful thing here. If your school allows it, try to pre-write the rules like you might on the exam and have them in your outline. Double check with your professor if this is ok. All of mine were fine with this, just no copy and pasting into Exam4, which is our test-taking software. The thing is here, make sure you have gone through your outline a lot. As a general note, you want all of your outlines done a few weeks before finals, and if you update them weekly, you can get there. Doing this will also help you create an attack or checklist outline.
Essay and/or Multiple Choice 3-4 hours
These types of tests can be dangerous. I say this because of their “open nature” first because its “open” the professors usually require a more developed answer, because of all of the tools available to you, including the internet. It is also “dangerous” because it can provide a false sense of security, as you may feel like if you’re not 100% on something “you can just look it up.” Let me be the first to tell you this is a TRAP. Sure, looking something up can be helpful, but it can also be a time suck! Beware and prepare like you would for a typical open book/note exam. Anything out in the universe is just a bonus.
Open Universe, Take Home
8 hours within a 24 hour
WOW… I liked this exam type. I felt like I did well because of the time given and my level of preparation. Oddly because I had so much information available, I seemed to have reviewed everything more carefully while preparing for the exam. During the exam, I actually had time to look at my full outline and confirm questions or ambiguities in my notes with the textbook. It was a luxury, that 2Ls seem to know well and then I realized… if I feel this way, so must everyone else…. Oh no… who knows where I will land on the curve because of this. My tips for taking this type of exam? Think of all of the resources you have like one big very comprehensive outline and figure out the best way for you to use them to create the most well-developed answer properly. Plus practice using everything together. If you don’t have a good planned, you might get overwhelmed and distracted during the test, and then those 8 hours just became 4. Also, think about when the best time for you to take the exam. Some people think better in the morning, others in the evening. Also consider when you’ll want food and any breaks you need., 8 hours is a long time to be hungry…
Best of luck on finals my fellow #1Ls! As always, if you have any tips reach out over @The1LLife on Twitter or Instagram.