Why You NEED to go over Exams with Professors


In case anyone is curious, second semester of law school is NOT easier than first semester. Sure, I know how to read, brief, study and handle a cold call now but I do not know how to write a trial brief, act in a mock pre-trial conference or handle the internship search. So that's how I am feeling a few weeks into second semester. On the plus side- I have landed an internship with my local prosecutors office for the summer and will be receiving both class credit and work study. I am super excited for this opportunity.



On to my real reason for blogging tonight- YOU MUST GO OVER EXAMS WITH YOUR PROFESSORS. Seriously- this should not even be optional. I have met with 3 of my 4 professors and it has been such a great eye opening experience into my test taking skills. If you have not met with your professors, do it. Seriously.

The most important thing I have learned through this process is that I suck at law school multiple choice. All my exams were nearly flawless on the writing portion but seriously subpar in the multiple choice. As my professors noted- there is no doubt I know and understand the law. But I struggled with the multiple choice questions regardless. Why you may ask? Well, from what my professors and I reviewed, I tended to choose the second best answer. Something really annoying that law professors do on MC questions is provide two correct answers- one is correct and one is the most correct answer. I kept choosing the simply correct answer. On a few questions, I changed my answer from second best to best answer- this is because those are the questions I was able to give a second look. All through my life, I have always second guessed myself on MC and have learned to go with my first gut answer. Obviously,  law school is different and I need to allow myself a second look to ensure I pick the best answer. Had I not met with my professors to go over the exams, I would never have figured this out. I have allotted myself 1 hour a week from now until exams to work through multiple choice questions to improve my process. Hopefully, it will pay off next semester and pull those grades up.

The second most important thing I learned from reviewing my exams is how important the IRAC structure is on the exams. I used a strong IRAC structure on all my exam essays and all of my professors made a comment on how nice and easy to read my essays were as a result. The organization it provides during the exam is crucial and provides your thoughts in the way the professors need to see them. The easier it is for them to understand and identify the parts of your answer, the better the grade in my experience. So- perfect those IRAC's before spring exams!

One part of my IRAC I do need to work on is my issue statements and my rule statements. Mine were sufficient for first semester exams but once I sat down with the model answers from the professors, I realized just how much better they need to be. I am also going to write an issue statement and rule statement for each case I read this semester from here on out- the repetition is sure to help strength my statements and one of my professors agreed to go over them with my every few weeks (another perk of meeting with them- they offer some great extra help!!)

The third thing I learned is rather hard to write about so I must preface with some honesty. I did pretty well my first semester- I was on the high end of the curve in all classes except for one.... that class I actually got a C- and will be retaking in the fall. When that grade came down, I was absolutely crushed. I second guessed my being in law school, I second guessed my intelligence... it was a rough few days after that grade came out. The real kicker was that it was my favorite class- Property. I was really good at Property; I taught the concepts to my study group members (all of which passed). I could not understand how this had happened. I share this because I want this blog to be transparent- it is not all sunshine and rainbows over here. I struggle a lot. I get confused a lot. I procrastinate a lot. I failed.... but it happens. As I began to get out of my funk over that C-, I realized it was not the end of the world. I can finish law school and after taking it twice, I will crush Property on the Bar.

This brings me to my third point, meeting with professors gives you an understanding about why you got the grade you did. When I met with my Property professor, I was so nervous about what I did so wrong to deserve that bad grade. My professor was wonderful- he asked me about my other classes (which went very well) and then asked me to identify what was different about the property exam. What came to my mind was that it was the last one and I was exhausted and I had a splitting headache throughout the exam. I was afraid he would say that was not an excuse for a poor exam performance but he surprised me- he said in rereading my exam, that made perfect sense. My exam read like it was written by someone who was tired and not using their full brain power. My issue statements and rule statements were weak. My normally flawless IRAC structure was scattered and messy. When I looked at my exam again- I was appalled. I knew so much better than that but I had a bad day. I had a bad test. My MC was weak in continuance with my other exams but mostly my essays, which had been so strong in every other class, had drug my grade down because I just was not functioning at the level I normally do that day. My professor is going to help me to improve over the semester but he made a big point to reassure me that I was a fine student and this grade did not define me in any way. I left the meeting feeling like 1000 pounds had been lifted from my shoulders. I am still upset with my grade and disappointed in myself but I realize now that it is not going to define me. If anyone else did poorly in a class- go see your professor. Find out what went wrong. It really isn't painful, I promise.

So moral of my story- go review your exams and talk to the professors. If you did well, you know what to keep doing. If you did bad, you find our what to fix. Most importantly, do not let one bad grade define you. It sucks and you move on to bigger and better things. Personally, I am gunning for an A when I retake property...


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