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How to Write Winning Exams
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How to Write Winning Exams!


Welcome to the Survival Series, "How to Write Winning Examinations." This is designed to provide you with important exam writing advice, and contains a preview of the Survival Series' proven strategies,techniques and practical survival tips which will help you improve your exam writing skills. We hope that you enjoy this brochure and find it helpful in your legal studies.

As you may already know, law school and bar examinations differ radically from examinations you have taken before entering your legal career. Law school and bar exam problems present a fact pattern which must be analyzed to determine what legal issues are raised. This is known as an "essay-type" examination.

Essay examinations require a well-organized, logical analysis, which correctly identifies and analyzes each legal issue raised. The following survival tips will put you on the right track to successful exam writing:

I. Use the "Problem Solving Approach" Method to Solving Exam Problems

Unlike college exams, law school and bar exam problems require that you ask the questions you will answer. The typical exam problem consists of a factual situation to which the principles of law are to be applied. Rules of law are made up of elements which must be tested against the facts, and so a "Problem Solving Approach" is simply an organized method by which to apply the law to a particular fact pattern.

More specifically, the problem solving approach is a checklist of the standard questions a lawyer would ask when presented with a certain set of facts. For example, in deciding whether the intentional tort of battery had been committed, a lawyer would ask these questions:

  1. Did the defendant act voluntarily?
  2. Did the defendant intend to make contact with the plaintiff?
  3. Was there actual contact between the defendant and plaintiff, or something closely connected to plaintiff's person?
  4. Would a reasonable person find such contact harmful and offensive?

The Survival Series' books contain these essential formulas, known as the "Law Charts". Each approach contains a comprehensive but concise statement of the "black letter" rules of law and their exceptions, a complete "checklist" of the questions that will solve any law school or bar exam problem conveniently presented on color coded charts. Special memory mnemonics and visual graphics are included in each approach to assist you in memorizing the law. In this brochure, you will find an example of the first page of the "Torts" problem-solving approach taken from The Law School Survival Kit.

The Law Survival Kit contains Law Charts for Torts, Crimes, Contracts, Property and Civil Procedure. These approaches are also included in the Bar Exam Survival Kit, which also contains Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Constitutional Law, Corporations,Wills, Trusts, Torts Remedies, Contract Remedies, and Professional Responsibility.

It is important to distinguish outlines from the Law Charts. While commercial outlines are usually limited to a conceptual review of the black letter law , the Survival Series provides you with the next critical step in bar preparation - that of organizing, applying and memorizing the law. In short, we supply you with the tools needed to prepare for exam taking and problem solving.

II. Develop a "SYSTEM" to Taking Examinations

Although each examination is different, it is imperative that you develop a "system" of problem solving that you will use again and again, regardless of the subject matter tested. For example, the first step in taking an essay examination is "reading." While you no doubt know how to read, reading a law school examination involves a very different process from what you may be accustomed to. It is therefore critical that you learn HOW to read a law school examination, WHAT to read for in that examination , HOW many times to read the examination before attempting to solve and HOW much time to spend reading the examination. Because most examinations are administered under time constraints, only those with a system systematic approach to solving problems succeed.

The Survival Series has developed system of solving exam problems: Six Steps of Exam Writing. This unique system gives you a step-by-step method to follow in applying the problem solving approaches to solving exam problems. You will learn how to read the fact pattern andinterrogatories, how to "visualize" the facts, how to spot issues, how to outline and organize your exam answer, and how to write out your answer under time pressures. By using the Six Steps of Exam Writing, combined with the Law Charts formulas even the most difficult exam question is solvable!

III. Use the Basic I-R-A-C Approach in Writing Examinations

The writing method most commonly used both in law school and in the legal profession is known as "I-R-A-C." I-R-A-C is the basic foundation of legal writing and analysis:

ISSUE: State the issue presented for analysis.
RULE: State the applicable rule of law.
APPLICATION: Apply the rule of law to the relevant facts.
CONCLUSION: Reach a conclusion.

The principle of "I-R-A-C" is simple. For example, assume that you are deciding whether Bart committed the tort of battery when he angrily kicked Lisa and said "Meet my shoe!" An "IRAC" analysis might read something as follows:

ISSUE: The issue is whether Bart committed a battery when he kicked Lisa.
RULE: A battery is an affirmative act with the intent to touch another resulting in harmful or offensive contact.
APPLICATION OF EACH ELEMENT: The affirmative act requirement is met because Bart kicked Lisa voluntarily out of anger. The intent requirement is also met because Bart actually intended to make contact with Lisa's person. Further evidence of Bart's intent is his statement, "Meet my shoe," which preceded his act of kicking Lisa. The harmful and offensive contact requirement is met because anyone would consider being kicked harmful and offensive and there was actual contact between Bart and Lisa.
CONCLUSION: Thus Bart is liable for battery.

Of course most people do not articulate this type of reasoning in most decisions. But on law school and bar examinations, you are expected to explain your reasoning, no matter how tedious or obvious that reasoning may appear. The "I-R-A-C" writing structure will force you to cover each and every component of a legal analysis, and will assist you in separating your discussion of each issue presented. By studying the Survival Series writing techniques, you will learn how to develop your own unique writing style that will set your exam answer apart from others.

IV. Remember Who You Are Writing For

When writing law school or bar exam essay answers, remember who will be reading and grading your examination --- your professor or perhaps even worse, an anonymous bar grader whom you will never know or meet. Your examination will be one of hundreds or thousands, and whatever you can do to make your examination stand apart from the others will make a difference.

You must find out what it is the person grading your examination wants to see. While each grader's expectations will vary slightly, professors and bar graders look for the same universal qualities in exam writing. You must learn not only how to analyze an exam problem, but also how to write efficiently and present an organized discussion of the pertinent issues. The Survival Series books are packed with proven techniques and strategies that will impress your professor and win you the top scores.

For example, by learning "The Ten Commandments of Examination Taking" you will learn how to avoid the ten most common errors students make in writing law school and bar exams. "The Ten Rules to Write By" will teach you ten specific strategies essential to successful exam writing, like how to distinguish between major and minor exam issues, and how to decide how much to write on each.

The Survival Series books provide you with everything you need to know to maximize your exam scores. The Survival Series shows you step-by-step how to write exam answers, how to use headings to flag the readers to the issues you are analyzing, how to use outlining to map out your answer before writing it, and finally, what to write when you put pen to paper.

V. Use Study Aids to Help Memorize the Law

Unless you are fortunate enough to have an instructor who allows open book examinations, you will be required to memorize the law, which means memorizing your problem solving approaches. Because you will have to organize and memorize a great deal of information, it is helpful to find a "system" of memorization and to use study devices such as flashcards and charts. For example, most people remember by process of visual association, as where a name is recalled after seeing a face. It is therefore beneficial to associate pictures with a particular rule of law or legal concept.

The Survival Series Bar Cards and Complete Bar Cards contains unique color coded flashcards which feature humorous graphics and cartoons, concise statements of the law and exceptions, and bold typing for easy memorization. A special section is included which shares with you the top memory strategies and technologies, as well as games that can be played with the flashcards. With the Survival Series Bar Cards, memorizing the law becomes fun!

Vl. Practice, Practice and More Practice!

The best test of your problem solving ability is to practice taking examinations, again and again, before stepping into that exam room. Only by actually taking examinations under exam pressures will you learn how to solve exam problems successfully.

In taking practice examinations, it is important to know where you stand. Without meaningful feedback, taking practice examinations are a meaningless exercise. The Survival Series' books provide you with the information you need to know to successful successfully evaluate your progress. Both the Bar Exam Survival Kit and the Law School Survival Kit contain numerous examples of model answers. The Survival Kit model answers differ from those in other books because we use a consistent approach throughout the book. Instead of having to sort through different writing styles to isolate problem areas in your exam writing, you can easily gauge your progress by comparing your exam answer to these provided by the Survival Kit. In addition, you are given examples of common pitfalls and errors made by examinees, and are actually shown examples of poor exam answers.

Vll. Learn the Law the Fun Way With Survival Series!

No one ever said that learning the law had to be boring and painful. The Survival Series books prove beyond a reasonable doubt that learning the law can be fun and exciting colorful and humorous graphics and illustrations, clever mnemonics and step by step guidelines make the process of learning the law simple and more importantly, fun!

Learning how to write winning law school and bar examinations is an art which can be easily mastered by practicing the Survival Series exam writing strategies and techniques. We have developed a series of books which contain a systematic approach to solving exam problems with proven results. The objective of our books is to provide you with the necessary tools and strategy to succeed in law school and on the bar examination.

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