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Issue Spotting Exams

Yesterday, I had (survived) my first law school midterm! WooohooOO! Even though it was only my first of many exams to come, I learned a lot about how law school exams are structured and how to prepare.

My midterm was in Contracts, and was an issue-spotting style written exam that we had an hour to complete.

The prompt gives you a one-page set of facts regarding the formation of one or more contracts. The facts are meant to be ambiguous so that you can argue both sides of each issue. The entire exam is identifying every issue in regards to the formation and enforceability of the contract, and then analyzing what each side would argue.

The nice thing about law school exams is that you can take them on your laptop, so you don't have to worry about the order in which you write your issues, or messy scribbling to correct mistakes. It's also much quicker to type than hand write, so the time limit is a little more lenient when you take them on your computer.

The stressful thing about taking them on your laptop is potential computer crashes. Luckily, I had no issues, but a girl in my row had to reboot her computer and the exam software just a few minutes before the test started. V stressful.

It's also very stressful that 25% of your grade is based on one single question. However, the setup of the question makes it so there are a dozen or so different issues to spot and analyze, and the likelihood of anyone getting all of them within the hour time limit is very low. Our professor told us that even the person who gets the highest score will only address about 70% of the possible issues. This also makes it nearly impossible to get a zero, since after 8 weeks of class you're bound to recognize at least one issue.

One constant theme I've noticed in law school is the camaraderie and team spirit that exists, at least among my section. At the end of the test, everyone gathered outside the classrooms and celebrated for like twenty minutes before going out to lunch or whatever post-midterm activity they had planned. Law students have a reputation for being competitive and conniving. While it is true that we are all competing against each other for the best grades and the best jobs, my experience has shown that law students are very willing to help out and support one another as well.

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