Taking practice exams under test-taking conditions is a proven way to improve performance on exams. The exam does not need to be from your current professor–any exam in the same format will work just fine. Write out answers to hypos and practice exam questions early and often–even if you have not yet finished (or started!) reviewing and outlining. Applying the material to a new set of facts is a very effective way of learning the material, even if you have not yet had time to review it. This exercise also helps to identify complexities and nuances that you might not catch when passively reading through your notes or outline. And, finally, writing out answers to practice exams forces you to practice the other skill that is being tested: legal analysis.
The law library maintains a database of past exams for you to use for practice. You can find those exams here. You can ask your professors if they plan to release old exams or hypos, but know that many reuse questions and so do not release them. If you have a sample answer (or a friend’s answer), consider using this worksheet to assess your performance and drill down on your analysis.
Commercial study aids are another resource for hypos and practice exams.
1. For short hypos on discrete topics (for use when reviewing/learning a particular topic):
the Examples & Explanations
study aid series has short hypos with answers/explanations. It is available for free online. Click this link
and then click on “WK Online Study Aid Library” under “Study Aids.” Then search for Examples & Explanations
(there’s one for each first-year subject). If the answer/explanation explains the law in a way that differs from how your professor explained it, think about how you would rewrite the answer to conform to your professor’s framework.
2. For longer practice exam questions (for use later in the semester to practice issue-spotting and time management as well as practicing legal analysis of discrete issues):
in addition to the Law Library’s exam database, you also can
use the Siegel’s
and the Emanuel
study aids. Siegel’s
is not available online, but there are hard copies on reserve in the Library or you can buy it. It has sample exam questions (issue-spotter and multiple-choice) along with sample answers. Emmanuel CrunchTime
and Emanuel’s First Year Questions and Answers
similarly have sample essay questions and answers. They are both available for free online. Click this link
and then click on “WK Online Study Aid Library” under “Study Aids.” Then search for Emanuel
(there’s one for each first-year subject). As with the Examples & Explanations
series, if the sample answer explains the law in a different way, it is a helpful exercise to think about how you would rewrite the answer using the framework you learned in class.