If you're getting ready for law school check this out: we put together a free e-book called the “Ultimate Pre-Law Checklist.” Just click the link below to download it. It's some of our best tips and strategies for getting ahead before you start law school, and it will put you miles ahead of your classmates, just click here.
Today, I’d like to talk about the two keys to getting A's in law school and why most students miss the single most important opportunity that they have.
So if you're a law student, you might think you're in law school, but actually you're in essay school.
That's because almost all of your final grades will be based on issue-spotting-exam essays. So what are the things that you need to do in order to ace your issue-spotting-essay exams?
Well I think there are two things that you should do. The first and most obvious thing that you can do in law school is master the law. If you go into a contracts class you need to master the law of contracts. If you go into a property class you need to master the law of property. Learning the substantive law is the table-stakes in law school, it's necessary but not sufficient. And to most people's surprise, the person who knows the most law is not necessarily the person that's going to get the best grade on the exam. In fact, far from it. The person who studies the hardest and works the hardest is not necessarily the person that's going to get the best grade. In fact, they almost never do. Everyone is going to have to learn the law, but learning the law itself is not enough.
That'll get you through the door, but that won't get you an A on the exam.
The second thing that you have to do in order to ace you law school exam is the thing that so few people do. And that's that this: you have to master the test.
In other words you have to learn how to write a good law school essay.
Learning how to take a law-school-essay exam is not a dark art. There is a science to it. It's a skill. And any skill can be learned over time, just like learning the piano or playing guitar.
You'll get better the more you do it and there are strategies that will allow you to learn how to do it faster. The worst thing that you can possibly do in law school is to never take a practice test until the day of your first final exam.
Now first, let me issue a disclaimer, many people say that it is impossible to improve your skills on a law school final exam. Now to those people I say good luck. It's so odd to me that the same people that spent $2,000 on an LSAT prep-course and learned how to take the LSAT, turn around and say that it's impossible to get better at law school exams. There are so many people, myself included, who learned the strategies for logic games and reading comprehension on the LSAT and improved their LSAT scores dramatically. And it's the same in law school. Personally I would take the person who has practiced the hell out of issue-spotting exams over the person who has memorized every law in contracts or torts or property. And the hidden benefit of learning the strategies of how to take a law-school-essay exam is that it shapes the way that you study throughout the entire semester.
You study the right things, the things that are going to be on the test. Because you get a feeling for what can be tested and it's strange but not everything you learn in class can be tested. For example, issue-spotting exams tend to test causes of actions in lawsuits. So they're not well-suited for testing the philosophy of law or questions of policy. Plus, you learn the law better through application. If you had enough practice tests you could conceivably learn the entire class through the answers to those tests without actually having to study. Believe me, once you miss a question on a practice test you're not likely to miss that question again when you see it on the next test, and maybe that next test is your final exam. So that raises the question, why don't more people do this? Why do so many people focus on the law only and miss out on the second key to acing their exam? Well most people think law school essays are just like undergrad essays. If you put off taking practice exams and at least looking at a sample law school exam you might not even know that a law school exam is very, very different from an undergrad essay.
And if you don't know that it's different, you might not even know that it's a skill that is worth honing over time. And of course let's not forget that there is so much information about the substantive law that you're learning. Every semester you're probably in three core classes. And each one of those classes is teaching things that you've never heard before. So there's always more time to study the law itself and it is far too easy to just put off practice tests and put off learning the strategies of essays until much, much later in the semester. For a lot of people, perfect is the enemy of good and they keep trying to get perfect at knowing the substantive law without even trying to learn the basics of writing issue-spotting exams. As a result they never learn how to spot the issues and they never learn how to write those good essays, the ones that will get A's on the exam.
But don't be like those other students.
Know that there are two keys to getting A's on your final exam. One is of course learning the substantive law, but the other is learning to master the test itself. In another video we'll explain the tactics for how you can start taking practice exams months before the finals and the strategies that going into spotting issues and writing those A-worthy exams.
If you're getting ready for law school check this out: we put together a free guide called "Legal Eagle's checklist for crushing finals." Just click the link below to download it. It's some of our best tips and strategies for getting ahead before you start law school, and it will put you miles ahead of your classmates, just click here.
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