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Law School Practice Exams

The law school exam universe is filled with outlandish hypotheticals, but even the most unrealistic scenario is still designed to allow for legal analysis. So, a military defense contractor using a taser on an eggshell extraterrestrial in Antarctica, while far-fetched, could still be rationally analyzed under the right legal frameworks. This hypothetical is packed with potential legal issues, such as:

  • Constitutional Law: state action doctrine, due process, extraterritorial jurisdiction, standing
  • Criminal Law: assault/battery, self-defense, intent
  • Torts: negligence, intentional torts, infliction of emotional distress, respondeat superior, damages
  • Civil Procedure: personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction, venue, service of process, expert witnesses
  • Contracts: breach of contract, disclaimers and releases, scope of contractual liability to third parties

Along with course outlines, law school practice exams are a great tool for any law student. They not only acquaint you with the dark recesses of your professor's mind but also, more importantly, her grading methods. When used throughout the duration of a course, practice exams can also serve as helpful learning aids for complicated legal concepts. And the more practice you get, the less distracted you'll be by the creative license your professor might take.

Where Can I Find Law School Practice Exams?

Ideally, you'll want to use practice exams from your specific professors as these can better prepare you for their finals. However, if none are available, you can always search for practice exams from professors who teach the same class. If all else fails, there are general practice exams and sample answers available online.

Many law schools maintain a database of past exams for their students' use, sometimes with their library resources and sometimes on a professor's own website. However, these databases often require a student login to access. Some law schools provide practice exams for public use, such as those listed below:

If you're going to invest in a bar preparation course while still in law school, like BarBri, Kaplan or Themis, also offer practice exams and other resources to use while you're still in law school.

Getting the Most From Law School Practice Exams

The point of a law school practice exam is to help you understand testable concepts and, possibly more important, to hone your answering skills. During your first year, you'll likely take a legal research and writing course to learn writing skills and tips. But when working on practice exams it's important to focus on the fundamentals.

Spot the Issues, Then Whack the Moles

The key to any exam is knowing what to write about. Professors are meticulous in the words they use and there's a reason why they include certain facts in any question. When reading through a practice exam, it's always helpful to note the issues as you see them in the facts. Flag the issues in the margins, then check them off as you address them.

Use IRAC

One of many four-letter words you'll use in law school, IRAC (Issue-Rule-Analysis-Conclusion) is the best way to structure your writing. It's also a good way to think about legal issues. Getting into the habit of singling out issues and relevant rules, then applying them together and drawing a conclusion will pay dividends during law school and the bar exam, as well as down the road as a practicing attorney.

Because, Because, Because

One thing that can irritate law professors reading through exam answers is when students make unsupported assertions such as, "the extraterrestrial in Antarctica lacks standing to sue the federal government." One way to force yourself to support your statements is to use the word "because" at the end of an assertion like the one above. If you can't write anything after "because," then that's a good time to review the facts and reevaluate what you're arguing.

What's Next for You?

When you're going through law school, sometimes you may feel more like the tortoise than the hare. But even though it may feel like a slow process, you'll later look back as an attorney and be amazed at how quickly the time passed. There are a lot of opportunities in law school and some are not always that obvious. Explore FindLaw for Law Students to learn more about those opportunities and how to leverage them to your advantage.

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