Law School Exam Writing

THE M.A.D.™ METHOD IS UNIQUE TO THE ROM LAW™ WITH ITS COMPUTER CASE BRIEF, LAW OUTLINE, AND 720 FLASH CARDS™ IT CONSISTS OF THE FOLLOWING STUDY METHODS:

 

MEMORIZE

APPLY

DISSERTATE

 

Your success in law school exam writing will be in direct correlation to the amount of effort you put into memorizing the law as well as into learning how to apply the information in class. The law that you need to memorize is contained in a concise and easy to learn format in the law outlines contained in  ROM LAW™ Contained in these study guides are all the elements of the law and the definitions that you need for Bar Exams and law school exam writing.

 

In addition to the memorization and application that you learned in class, you will have to spend a significant amount of time dissertating on the law. Dissertation of the law is a proprietary study method of Study Partner™. Dissertation is essential to your complete understanding of the law and cannot be overlooked.

 

In order to dissertate, simply choose a topic and write down everything you know about the topic in five minutes or less. When you are finished, compare the completeness and accuracy of your writing with what is contained in the law outlines and with your own class notes on the topic. What you did not write down is what you do not know about the law. Dissertating is practicing for your exam writing.

 

The five-minute time limit is important in that it will help you quickly organize your thoughts on the topic into a general outline. This will give you a significant advantage in exams with time limits.  Pay particular attention to dissertating majority and minority law, as this will aid you significantly in answering both MBE questions and essay questions and for not missing issues of law school exam writing.

 

MAJORITY /MINORITY I.R.A.C.™ EXAM WRITING

 

Majority/ Minority I.R.A.C. ™ is somewhat similar to the Issue, Rule of law, Application, and Conclusion (IRAC) writing to which you may have already been exposed, except that with practice it can result in superior skills for exam writing.

 

There are two well founded reasons for this statement; the first is that by using majority/minority law as the basis for your answer you will be able to dramatically shorten the outlining and writing process; the second is that by using majority/minority law, you will spot more issues in the fact patterns than most examiners are looking for.

 
If you have been dissertating on majority/minority law, you will already have all the outlines that you ever need to create memorized. Thus all you will need to do is to dissertate on the exam with the facts applied to each element of the issue. If the answer is organized in adversarial format, with the winner arguing majority law and the loser arguing minority law, then the organization of your writing will take care of itself. When reading the exam for issue spotting, simply write down one word to remind yourself that the issue is present. Afterwards, when you return to write the answer, just skim the facts looking for words and phrases that support the argument for each particular element of the issue.

 

If you have been practicing your dissertation skills, your speed in dissertation should have progressed to where you can concisely state in writing all applicable points of law in less than two minutes. That leaves you an extra three minutes per issue to add some facts to create an answer that is complete beyond any examiner's greatest expectations. You can thoroughly discuss all of the elements of the issue, and the answer will read well and make sense because it is organized in a well-defined adversarial format of majority/minority law.

 
It takes about 100-200 hours of practice and another 100-200 hours of dissertation on the subjects you wish to write about to become extremely good at using this method. Once you have the ability to write in this fashion it never leaves you. All you will then have to do for the rest of law school is spend enough time dissertating on any subject to completely master it in a short period of time.

 

The first strategy is to split your exam time into two periods.  The first period is the issue-spotting period and the second is the exam writing period. 

  

THE ISSUE SPOTTING PERIOD

 

The issue-spotting period must take at least 1/2 of the time allotted for each question. During the issue-spotting period, you must read and reread the fact pattern presented to spot all the issues and to formulate the structure of your answer.  If you do not spend 1/2 of the time allotted on issue spotting, your answer will be disorganized and you will not spot all the issues presented by the facts.

 

The average exam question can be read once every 3-5 minutes. The average exam length is one hour. In the thirty minutes allotted for issue spotting, you should be able to read the question at least six times.

 

The first reading should familiarize you with the interrogatory and the basic facts.  You will begin to spot issues, but you will only spot 40% of what is really there.  If you begin writing after reading the question just once, you will miss 60% of the issues and will not be able to use the adverbs and adjectives used in the fact pattern. Failure to use the adverbs and adjectives presented is a strong indication that you lack knowledge of the facts presented in the problem.

 

The second, third, and fourth readings should allow you to spot all the issues presented as well as focus your outline and exam answer to the adjectives and adverbs used in the answer. If a blue cow committed the crime, you should use the words 'blue cow' in your answer.  This is known as writing about 'blue cow law.'

 

By the fourth or fifth reading, if time permits, you should have memorized the actual facts of the problem.  In addition, if the issues are word sensitive you will be able to determine which words support hidden issues or presumptive issues.    This will allow you to find the hidden issues that are not obvious until you start asking the question, "Why was this word chosen to describe the action or problems encountered?"

 

The key to good exam writing is to not start writing the answer until you understand the facts given in detail and their relation to the interrogatory presented.

 

OUTLINING 

 

Each time you read through the facts of the question your key word outline should expand as you spot more issues. The outline should not be formal in nature, it should be a series of abbreviations with elements of law highlighted as being the key to the legal analysis presented. Your outline should be incomprehensible to anyone but yourself. However, before you begin to write the answer to an interrogatory you should make a final organization of the outline. This is to create maximum efficiency in writing the answer. A good example of this is felony-murder. It makes no sense to separate the inherently dangerous felony from the discussion on felony murder. Combining the felony into the murder discussion is essential if you want to complete the writing using the least amount of words and time.

 

Spending 3-5 minutes to do a final organization of your written answer before beginning to write will save significant amounts of time.

 

USING THE FACTS GIVEN and MODIFIED IRAC

 

Most students have great difficulty in realizing that most of the facts given in the problem should be repeated in the answer. The average person can write 20-30 words per minute. The average exam answer should be 600-900 words in length. At least 100-150 of the words written should be taken directly from the problem presented. Adjectives and adverbs taken from the problem should be used to describe the actions and quality of the parties.

 

Exam answers can be broken into four main parts. They are identification of the issue, statement of the rule of law, application of the facts to the law, and conclusion. The basic structure that a student should use in writing exam answers is IRAC. IRAC stands for Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion. It is good for a basic structure, but do not write in IRAC from for an answer because that method of writing is too inefficient and takes too much time. This book, will focus on writing with the I.(RA).C. structure. The I.(RA).C. method combines the rule of law and the application of the law to save valuable time and reduce the overall amount of words used.  This makes your arguments more clean, clear, and concise (C3.)

 

In addition, to using the I.(RA).C. structure, you must use majority/minority law to create automatic outlines and counter-arguments for each issue. Many students have difficulty in putting down the first few words in an exam setting, and they lose valuable time frozen in a mental block. The use of majority/minority law will alleviate any serious problems you may encounter in beginning to write an exam answer.

 

IDENTIFICATION OF THE ISSUE AND THE PARTIES 

 

This advice is easy to give and easy to follow. Do not identify an issue with a question. For example, if you are answering interrogatory #2 on a crimes exam and it asks if Deft is guilty of murder, do not write the following:

 

2. Was Deft guilty of murder when he went to Sally's home and shot her in the head after she told him she was moving out and going with Charles because Charles was a real man?

 

This looks good and it reads well but it takes 35 words and at least one minute to write.  There are usually ten issues on an exam and a student who writes in this fashion will spend 10 minutes of valuable time writing nonsense.  It is far better to write any of the following:

 

2. Deft's murder of Sally.

2. Is Deft guilty of murder?

2. Deft's liability for killing Sally.

2. Murder.

 

All of these alternatives are better than the first example with 35 words. If you identify your answer as listed in any of the alternatives, you will have approximately 9 more minutes of writing time to discuss in detail any issue you may raise about Deft's culpability for the crime.

 

APPLICATION OF THE FACTS TO THE LAW 

 

IRAC exam writing requires that your state the Issue, Rule of law, Application, and Conclusion.  For the crime of burglary it would be necessary to write the following:

 

2. Burglary.

Burglary is the breaking and entering of a dwelling house of another in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony therein or larceny.

 

When Jake threw a brick through the window of Sally's house he satisfied the element of breaking.  By crawling through the window (entering) immediately thereafter in the nighttime to murder Sally, he showed his intent commit a felony.

 

Because Jake broke and entered into the house of another in the nighttime with the intent to commit a murder, a felony, he has incurred liability for common law burglary.

 

Comments: By carefully looking at the Rule of law and the Application, it is obvious that the definition and the application can be combined, thus saving 23 words. That's almost a full minute of writing. The better way to write the answer is to not waste time listing the definition and applying the law to the definition in two steps. Just apply the law and make sure the elements of the definition are present in the application of the facts to the law.

 

Example:

 

2. Burglary. 

When Jake threw a brick through the window of Sally's house (house of another) he satisfied the element of breaking. By crawling through the window (entering) immediately thereafter in the nighttime, with the intent to murder Sally (felony) Jake has satisfied all the elements for culpability of common law burglary.

 

There is no difference in the quality of the answers, but the second requires a lot less time to write, which makes it the better alternative for a student in a hurry. That's the advantage of combining the Rule and Application of the law in I.(RA).C. exam writing.

 

THE CONCLUSION IN LAW SCHOOL EXAM WRITING 

 

The conclusion in the I.(RA).C. example merely lists the definition again and concludes that Jake is liable for common law burglary. The conclusion in the second example states the same conclusion but with 17 fewer words.

 

If you think you can learn the skill of exam writing in two weeks you are the village idiot. The sooner you start the better you will get. Before your first exam you must do at least 30 practice exams in each subject you are taking. If you in fact do what we tell you to do, and become proficient you will notice something very reassuring when you take your first law school exam; you will see those less fortunate souls who start writing an exam answer in the first 5 minutes of the exam.

 

These methods work and we know it because over 250,000 law students have used them in the last 21 years. Don't think for one second that you know better because you don't. There are two types of law students in this world; those who call us in February gushing about their fantastic grades and those looking for help.

 

Why are we so arrogant about our methods? Simple. They work and they have worked for a vast number of students. If you do them you will see immediate results in about two weeks and the process of law school will become easy to understand. There is a lot of work but once you take our path the anxiety will disappear and you will get grades like you did in undergrad. Those of you who cannot spend the time or find an excuse for everything; Good luck to you.