Last weekend, as I was enjoying my first cup of eggnog latte this season, a sudden realization pierced my happy holiday bubble, so artfully created by the retail industry. It was time to address the main hurdle that separated law students from their winter holidays. I am talking about the law school exams, of course, and I’ve decided to dedicate this whole week to the subject. I’ll be doing lots of slicing and dicing in my virtual kitchen to perfect the recipes for successful test-taking.
Today’s special on my menu is the multiple choice test. I urge you to work through the article How To Answer Multiple Choice Questions based on Evaluation and Grading In Law School by Michael Josephson and updates by Vernellia Randall and Rogelio Lasso. It’s full of detail and insights. Here is my rendition of DON'Ts, Alerts and DOs from the article.
- Don't assume facts.
- Don't make the facts more complex than they really are.
- Don't panic.
- Don't guess until you've eliminated the definitely wrong options.
- Don't rely on instinct.
Watch out for:
- Distractors and foils that convey superficial plausibility.
- Incomplete definitions and arguments.
- Doctrines or rules that you never heard of (probably indicate an incorrect option).
- Meaningless phrases.
- Errors in reasoning.
- Inconsistencies in facts, arguments and conclusions.
- Seemingly meaningless details about people.
- Modifiers: because, since, as, as long as, unless, etc.
- Misstatements of law.
- Rules from inapplicable body of law.
- Rules that don't apply to the facts.
- Words of certainty: always, never, must, cannot, etc.
- Answers that are opposites (one is probably true).
- Read carefully.
- Identify the central issue in the facts and responses.
- Determine which legal concepts apply before reading the options.
- Know which role you are asked to play in a question, i.e. Judge, Advocate, Scholar.
- Apply legal principles to facts in a rational manner.
- Read the statutes carefully and apply mechanically.
- Re-word the inquiry.
- Determine how much time you have per question and stick to the schedule.
- Maintain concentration.