Answer an Essay Question Before Seeing It!
Would you like to have 60% of your essay exam complete before exam day? Would you like to have more time on exam day to think through your answer? Stay tuned to the end for an exam preparation technique that can help you get higher grades.
Today I want to talk to you about an exam preparation technique that will improve your essay writing. Ideally, you should already have three sets of notes, as I mentioned in my episode called вЂњThree Sets of Notes Method. This fourth set of notes, which I call your Exam Answer outline, is an organizational tool that will allow you to move quickly during the final, and help you write an organized answer. Here’s how it works.
For each possible issue, you will write the ideal answer into your Exam Answer outline. Obviously, you won’t know the names of the parties or other facts, but you do know the law and how rules interact with each other. Also, while preparing your Exam Answer outline, use Defendant and Plaintiff for the names of people. Let’s go through a negligence example. Ask yourself what the ideal first sentence of a negligence answer looks like. Then write out something like: вЂњthe issue is whether D was negligent when he committed the act against P. On exam day, you will replace D, P, and вЂњcommitted the act with the facts from the exam.
The next sentence is your ideal rule statement, which you will pull directly from your rule outline. Negligence occurs when a defendant owes a duty of care, breaches that duty, is the actual and proximate cause, and there are damages to the plaintiff. By the way, if you haven’t noticed, I am using the IRAC method, which I covered in an earlier episode. Then wrap up the first paragraph with a brief conclusion. Because all the elements are met, D is liable to P for negligence.
Now, write the second ideal paragraph, which in this case involves duty of care. The first issue is whether D owed P a duty of care. Duty of care is a legally recognized relationship between the parties, and is measured by the reasonably prudent person standard. In this case D owed P a duty of care because. At this point you’ll have a blank, which you will fill in on exam day. Then the last sentence will read: вЂњthis element is met because D owed (or did not owe) P a duty of care.вЂќ You will do this for each element, but you don’t stop there. You also need to create alternative paragraphs, depending on the issues that might appear on your exam. For example, before you get to the final exam, have you thought through how to deal with negligence per se? I ask this because when you have a negligence per se question, you need to discuss the negligence per se AND the reasonably prudent person standard.
Why you ask? Because it is always possible that the court will deny the negligence per se instruction, leaving you with having to argue the reasonably prudent person standard. This means you need to have an ideal paragraph for this possibility. So work through negligence per se, using this approach, and ending the negligence per se paragraph with something like this. Plaintiff should be able to establish duty through negligence per se. However, if the court finds that negligence per se cannot be used, then Plaintiff can still prevail under the reasonably prudent person standard. There are other areas that you also need to think about. Where does res ipsa loquitur fit into an exam. On criminal law exam, where do you discuss premeditation. On a contracts exam, where do you discuss a UCC distinctive? You can wait till exam day to think about all this, but if you plan it all out in advance, now when you have time, you will know exactly how to structure your final and understand the connections between the different rules. This approach will also give you more time to focus on the analysis portion of the exam, which is where most professors award points. By the way, if you have an open book exam, you will truly have a huge advantage over your colleagues that haven’t done this. If youвЂ™d like to see more episodes that can help you succeed, hit the subscribe button. Also, don’t forget to check out LearnLawBetter.com where you will find more resources to help you get ahead, including my blog, newsletter, and exam bank. Thanks for watching.