Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Muscles Under God

I suppose I should mention in passing that classes have ended, and the study-crush begins. Good luck to my fellow blawgers. Unless you're in my classes. In which case I wish you wouldn't mess with the curve.

Last class was Con Law, where I had to advocate briefly in front of the class on why the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegience violate the Establishment Clause. My group and I did excellent, and I felt comfortable up there mentally, but physically my body was simply not cooperating. Some kind of weird shaking going on in my neck muscles. I kept tilting my head, trying to shake it out. Very strange how our bodies defy us at these inconvenient moments.

Also, I have my first law school open-book exam. Any thoughts/advice on how to take the damn thing?


Lawyerlike said...

Interesting, usually the closed-book law exams are the exception.

You'll see a lot of people taking all of their notes as if they were packing for a vacation. I like to think, any course can be condensed to a minimum number of pages, probably between 4 and 10.

I like to make a separate table of just cases and facts. Then, in the condensed notes when it's applicable, just write see: "Case" in table.

Any more means you aren't comfortbale with what you do know and feel the need to surround yourself with notes you'll never consult.

The studying is all in the condensation. Then, writing the exam is just a matter of inflation, like blowing up a balloon - and isn't that always fun?

greg said...

Open book exams are my favorite. They all come down to issue spotting. Why? Because your best approach is to prepare your answers before you go in.

I suggest more than just a simple outline. You know what the issues are. You know what the analysis of each issue is supposed to be. Most people will walk in with their outlines and go from that. I suggest a workflow (in outline form or some other) with the actual language you intend to use. That way, you don't even have to think about it. Just leave out the irrelevant bits.

Not entirely true to form but the only ones I can find, these are my Property materials, for instance. For intentional torts, I had full responses written out: "X is liable for Foo if he: 1) element 1; 2) element 2; and 3) element 3." And so on, through the analysis.

Generally, I've never wasted the time to outline open book courses.

Now, I'd still bring everything, just in case. In Civ Pro II, I decided to bring only my attack plans and some random outline I had downloaded. No book. Unfortunately, the Romero Exception isn't in most Civ Pro materials, and I didn't have my casebook with the complete description of it.

Basically, there's no reason not to have a ready response written to address every potential issue. Just pull each one out as you go through addressing the issues and you're good to go.

Supra said...

Look how different your techniques are! Fascinating. Thanks guys, you can be I'm taking it all into account.

Dave said...

I'm a 1L at USF, and have two open-books coming up: Crim and Torts. I'm basically planning on taking Greg's approach, but I also have extensive outlines. My feeling is that a open book exam is harder to prepare for if you are aiming for an A, because you can't just rely on your general knowledge and have to assume that other students are putting in a lot of work in preparing their notes and pre-written answers.

Anyway... I also have a vaguely law-related blog called Traditional Notions. Hope you can check it out.

Supra said...

Dave - I am scandalized that you're getting open-books for Torts and Crim! I didn't get a single one last year. You're telling me that you won't have to memorize the Tarasoff factors?? Shot to the heart.

I linked to your site.

Good luck on exams. If you need any outlines let me know.