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.