Academics News

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Evaluating Your Exam Performance

Grades for the fall semester are in.  Were you pleasantly surprised or dismally disappointed or somewhere in-between?  Regardless of your situation, most every student can benefit by participating in an exam review with their professor.  No one gets a perfect score on a law school exam and there is always room for improvement.  Below are some tips for having a productive exam review:

  • Be very clear about the professor's requirements.  Some professors have specific dates and times when they will hold exam reviews with students.  If you are unsure of a professor's availability, send him or her an email.
  • Before you meet with a professor to do a formal exam review, request to see a copy of the exam.  Doing your own assessment will help you prepare your thoughts before meeting with the professor.  You will be amazed by what you notice about the exam question and your answer when you can look at it without the stress and time pressure of an exam period. 
  • Come to the meeting with only one thing in mind - learning from past experience and gaining from professional reaction to your product.  Do not expect that this meeting with lead to a grade change.
  • Take an active role in the meeting.  Do not expect a packaged answer from the professor, pinpointing your precise strengths and weaknesses.  The following questions, if you ask them consistently, can identify trends in your exam-taking:
  • Did I misread the instructions for the exam?
  • Did I spot the important issues?
  • Did I miss important issues entirely?
  • Did I display the rule/test/framework/standard properly and clearly?
  • Did I adequately explain exceptions and/or counter arguments?
  • Did I organize my answer based upon what was asked in the call of the question?
  • Did I thoroughly develop the analysis/application?  Did I explain each step of my legal analysis?
  • Did I explore the facts of the question thoroughly in light of the legal principles and issues that I identified?
  • What ways could the answer have been better organized?
  • Did I make unwarranted assumptions in order to reach my conclusion?
  • What aspects of my exam were strong?

Take a hard look at your performance last semester.  Be honest with yourself about what worked and what did not work.  Give yourself credit for your study strategies that were efficient and effective.  Admit what study strategies were disasters.  If you did not put in enough effort, own up to it.  If you procrastinated, own up to it.  To improve this semester, you must know your strengths, be honest about your weaknesses, and rigorous in your time management.   

SPRING 2010 FIRST DAY OF CLASS

January 4, 2010, is the first day of class for the spring 2010 semester.  Please see the attached schedule.

2010 Summer Schedule, Tentative (updated to 12/23/2009)

The 2010 Summer Schedule, Tentative (updated to 12/23/2009) is posted to the Law School website.  The schedule is "tentative," but I do not expect to make changes.

 

8 January 2010 is the last day to "add" a course to your 2010 spring schedule; for some students, the 2010 Summer Schedule is important to your course selection in spring 2010.

 

The faculty is using the holiday break to rest and rejuvinate for the spring semester.  I hope your holiday break is just what you want it to be and that you arrive on 4 January 2010 as rejuvinated as your faculty and ready to begin a new semester.

 

 

GRADES

Grades have been posted and you can check your grades on ULink.  Class rankings will not be ready until February. 

 

 The University will be closed from December 24 until January 4.

 

HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY HOLIDAY

Academic Success Tip

In just a few hours, most everyone will have completed the fall 2009 semester of law school.  Congratulations!  Enjoy your time off during the holiday break.  Rest your mind and return to law school in the spring with a renewed sense of purpose.  Happy Holidays!

Kentucky Bar Exam Presentation - January 7

If you are a graduating law student and are planning to take the Kentucky Bar Exam in July 2010, do not miss the bar presentation on January 7, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., in Room 275.  (This presentation is during the first week of classes!)  Bonnie Kittinger, Director and General Counsel of the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions, will be available to answer your questions about the bar application, character and fitness reporting requirements, and the format of the bar exam.  If you plan to work on your bar application during the break, please stop by the Academic Success Office to pick up a handout describing the bar application process.  Be sure to write down any questions or issues you encounter and bring those to the January 7 bar presentation. 

Academic Success Tip - Final Exam Tip of the Semester

Be sure to address all reasonable alternative points of view.  Most students use the I-R-A-C formula when writing the answers to their law school exams.  This formula, which is quite similar to the C-R-E-A-C paradigm, stands for:  state the issue, provide the law, analyze the applicability of the facts to this law, and come to a conclusion.  Because addressing counter arguments is such an important part of legal analysis, the formula might be more accurately written as I-R-A1 (state the argument)-A2 (state any reasonable counterargument)-Conclude, or resolve which argument is better and WHY it is better.  In other words, I-R-A1-A2-C.  So what is a reasonable counterargument?  A counterargument is reasonable if it is based on the facts in the problem or reasonable inferences from those facts.  If you find yourself creating facts, then the counterargument you are creating is unlikely to be a reasonable one. (Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.)

Academic Success Tip - Exam Tip

Objectivity and indecisiveness are not the same thing.  When students attempt to perform objective legal analysis, they often fall into the trap of being indecisive as opposed to objective.  When performing objective legal analysis, you must still come to a conclusion.  It’s just that your conclusion is the product of carefully considering all reasonable alternatives.  Telling the reader that a problem could be resolved in two ways, but that the final answer will “depend on what the court thinks” is tantamount to telling the reader “this is hard, so you figure it out!” (Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.)

KY Bar Exam Presentation - January 7

Reminder:  If you are a graduating law student and are planning to take the Kentucky Bar Exam in July 2010, do not miss the bar presentation on January 7, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., in Room 275.  (This presentation is during the first week of classes!)  Bonnie Kittinger, Director and General Counsel of the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions, will be available to answer your questions about the bar application, character and fitness reporting requirements, and the format of the bar exam.  If you plan to work on your bar application during the break, please stop by the Academic Success Office to pick up a handout describing the bar application process.  Be sure to write down any questions or issues you encounter and bring those to the January 7 bar presentation. 

Academic Success Tip - Exam Tip: Avoid Starting with a Conclusion

Avoid starting your analysis with a conclusion.  Instead, the first sentence of your discussion of each issue should identify the problem in need of resolution.  For example, you might begin your analysis of a torts problem by noting that “John may have battered Fred when he threw a stick over the fence that struck the plaintiff.”  In contrast, avoid writing “John battered Fred when he threw the stick over the fence.”  While beginning with a conclusion may be acceptable when writing a memorandum, keep in mind that these conclusions are usually based on a great deal of thoughtful reflection.  When writing an examination answer, time is of the essence and you may be incorrect regarding your initial belief as to how the problem will come out.  Beginning each problem with an issue statement, as opposed to a conclusion, addresses two related problems.  First, it provides you with the flexibility to look at all sides of a problem before coming up with an answer.  Second, it helps you to remain objective.  When you start with a conclusion, the tendency is to support that conclusion even in the face of strong opposing arguments. (Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.)