Law School Exam Tips Students Should Know
It’s about that time of year to begin preparing for law school finals, so here are some law school exam tips! Enjoy Thanksgiving Day with your family, friends, or whomever, but sneak in a few hours of studying the day before or the day after to keep the information you’ve learned fresh in your mind. When exam day comes, you will be happy you did. Once you memorize the black letter law, consider these law school exam tips to get the best grade:
DRAC Instead of IRAC
I’m sure you have heard of IRAC: Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion. This is the historical way of drafting law school essays. Everyone by now is probably applying IRAC on their law school exams. So, how can you do better than your fellow peers? Use DRAC! I didn’t come up with DRAC, in fact, I learned DRAC from Barbri!
So, what does DRAC stand for? Dispute, Rule, Arguments, and Conclusion. The purpose of using DRAC instead of IRAC is so that you do not miss issues. For example, let’s say that you are faced with a contracts question. The overall dispute in the question may be “whether A and B formed a valid contract.” However, while this is the overall question, this is not the issues presented in the fact pattern. In fact, there may be three or more issues, such as “whether there was an offer,” “whether there was an acceptance,” and “whether there was consideration.” Furthermore, you may find that an exception exists so you have the issue of “whether an exception exists even where there was not an offer, acceptance, and consideration.” By looking at the dispute raised by the fact pattern, you will likely gather more points for spotting more issues.
The “R” in DRAC is the same as in IRAC: Rule. State the rule the same as you would using IRAC. The “C” in DRAC also is the same as in IRAC: Conclusion. Stating your conclusion can be done in the same way as you have done using IRAC.
“A” is for Arguments
So what about the “A” in DRAC? The “A” in DRAC stands for “arguments” in lieu of “analysis.” By remembering that “A” stands for “arguments” you will remember to provide arguments for both the plaintiff and the defendant. Also, as Barbri taught me, and as I will suggest to you, you can break the arguments down into factual arguments, legal arguments, and policy arguments. By addressing the essay questions presented in front of you, using DRAC will help you get the most points possible.
Do you ever run out of time on exams? I struggled with this through undergrad and in law school. The way to get the most points on a law school exam is to allot your time wisely. For example, if you have four essay questions to answer in four hours, don’t spend two hours answering the first question because you feel like you know the information so well and could go on and on and on. Stop. Move on.
I know it is hard to move onto the next question when you have more to say or argue; however, typically, if not stated by your law school professor, the essay questions are weighted equally, so using all of your time to answer just one question won’t help you get the best score. If you are unsure as to what your final exam will look like, ask your professor whether a recommended time for each question will be stated on the exam.
Allot Your Time Wisely
Often times, professors will write next to the question the amount of time a student should spend on that question. And guess what?! Typically, the amount of time stated next to the question is proportional to the amount of points you can get for that question. Therefore, for example, if a professor says spend 20 minutes on one essay and 40 minutes on another essay, there is a really good chance that the 40 minute question is worth more points!
At the start of the exam, look at how many questions or sections are in the exam. Allot your time accordingly to get the most points. When the time you allotted for the question/section is up, conclude and move on. I know it is hard to move to the next question when you feel as though you are not finished explaining yourself, but remember, you are trying to get the most points possible.
An Important Law School Exam Tip: Don’t Leave the Exam Early
One of the biggest mistakes I see students make in law school is leaving the exam early. I never quite understood why someone would walk out of an exam with points still on the table. Every professor I know makes their exams nearly impossible for a student to answer every question within the time allotted. Professors do this to make a curve and to test your complete knowledge of the subject matter. Therefore, if you feel like you are finished with an exam before the exam time is up, go back. Go back! Look for more arguments. Spot more issues. Go back to a question you thought you could say more about. Get as many points as possible! Want to perfect your law school exam essays? If you found these law school exam tips helpful, check out How to Write a Good Law School Exam Answer.