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Want to improve your law school exam grades? Go here.

Written by Brett McKay

By now most law students have gotten their grades back. If you’re not happy with your grades and are trying to figure out how to do better next exams, head on over to Law Career Blog. Gregory Bowman, law professor at the Mississippi College School of Law, has done a post on how students can improve exam performance. He gives 8 tips on how students can improve their scores. My favorites included:

  • Know your audience, and remember the purpose of an exam. While law school grading is anonymous, it doesn’t mean it’s completely objective. Your professors are human beings. They have preferences. Find out during class what their style is and create an exam answer geared toward that style.
  • Take practice exams. Not just one. I can’t believe the number of students who think one practice exam is enough. Also, take the exam under test taking conditions. Law exams don’t just test what you know, they also test how efficiently you can present your answer.
  • Organize your answer. Don’t start right away answering an exam question. Read the prompt through, makes notes of issues, and then create and outline. Some might think it’s a waste of time, but the truth is you’ll save more time in the long run planning your answer out first.

Go check out the rest of Gregory’s post. In addition, to the tips he offers in this post, he has several links to past posts that he has done on law school exams that also have great advice.

Make free diagrams for your notes

Written by The Frugal Law Student

Want a free option to Microsoft Visio? Head on over to Gliffy. Gliffy is a web-based application that allows you to create some spiffy looking diagrams. This would be perfect to make flow charts showing the parol evidence rule or UCC 2-207. Gliffy also allows for collaboration, so you can work with fellow law students developing a flow chart to outline your class.

Create Flash Card Wikis

Written by Mrs. FLS

Lifehacker has a post about Memorizable.org. You can create your own web based flash cards using the wiki format. If you’ve never used a wiki before, it will take some time getting used to. Not only can you make customized flash cards for your Contracts or Family Law class, Memorizable is free. Try it out and see if it will help in your exam preparation.

Free Case Briefs

Written by Brett McKay

During the middle of last semester, I stopped briefing cases. It was taking too much time away from doing practice exams and the such. I still read the cases and make a few notes in the margins, but I have not done a full length brief in months.

Instead, I go to Lexis Nexis and use their Case Brief service. Just type in the case number and select brief, and Lexis brings up a nice little case summary. Some summaries are better than others, but overall I’ve been happy with them. I’ve had no problems answering my professors’ questions using them.

Westlaw also has a case brief option, but I don’t like them as much. All they do is give you the West head notes as the brief. Sometimes there can be 20 or 30 head notes to sort through to find the issue that you need for class.

Another option is using 4 Law School’s case brief bank. These are briefs done by other students, so quality does vary. However, you can find some good ones. Briefs done by a guy named Bram have been useful in class.

Top Law Student also has a page with links to several free outlines. Many of these outlines incorporate case briefs. This is another great free resource.

What do you all do about case briefing?

Breeze through cases with ZAP Reader

Written by Mrs. FLS

It’s been said that reading law cases is like mixing cement with your eyelids. It’s long, boring, and tedious. What many people don’t know is that the human mind can process more information than they think it can. When most people read silently, they use the silent voice in their head to read each word one by one. However, the brain can process and understand more than a word at a time. It takes some training, but people can quickly increase their reading speed up to four times from what they are reading now.

ZAP Reader is a tool that can help you with that. ZAP is a free online web app that allows users to download any text into the reader. You then determine how many words and what speed the ZAP reader will present the text to you. By doing this, ZAP forces you to turn off the inner voice in your head and forces you to read faster than you think you can.

This can come in really handy if you need to get through a bunch of cases quickly. Just bring up the case on Lexis or Westlaw, copy, and paste it into ZAP reader.

Finals Update

Written by Mrs. FLS

I’m in the middle of my first law school finals. I had my torts final on Wednesday. I’m paranoid that I totally flubbed it. I think I did alright on my essay; however, I’m worried about the multiple choice part. I wish professors would just post the answers after the test so students can get an idea how they did on the multiple choice.

Tomorrow, I have my civil procedure test. I feel pretty good about it. I’ll be finished with it all on Tuesday. I can’t wait.