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JD Academic Mentoring – Exam Skills Tuesday, 27 May 2014 Law Lecture Theatre 1.

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Presentation on theme: "JD Academic Mentoring – Exam Skills Tuesday, 27 May 2014 Law Lecture Theatre 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 JD Academic Mentoring – Exam Skills Tuesday, 27 May 2014 Law Lecture Theatre 1

2 Law exams at UWA Aimed at assessing: Your knowledge of the law; Your ability to engage with legal principles; and Your ability to analyse how the law applies to various facts. Usually two kinds of questions in law exams: Problem questions / hypothetical Short essay / longer essay Number of questions vary and reading time provided. 1

3 Preparing for an exam Most law exams are open book – but don’t be fooled! Writing exam notes: Begin writing notes early in semester Structure/organise notes in a clear and logical way Keep sentences short – e.g. “Principle X: Case name” Small summaries of cases with facts help a lot Coloured tabs work well Summary sheets / issue checklists Use of past student notes 2

4 Preparing for an exam (cont) After you’ve prepared your exam notes: Print your notes and get them bound Revise your notes and become familiar with them Highlight important parts and annotate if needed Go over past tutorial/class questions Go over past exam papers provided on CMO: Try to answer past exams in exam conditions (using techniques outlined later in this presentation) Discuss answers with friends and seek lecturer feedback 3

5 Preparing for an exam (cont) Other things to consider before the exam: Allocate time based on marks (use a sticky note) Don’t try and cram last minute Relax before the exam Don’t drink coffee before the exam Bring your own watch! 4

6 In the exam - planning When the exam begins – take some time to plan: Use your 10 minutes to read the question and facts carefully – don’t miss crucial detail Highlight and annotate the question for later Read exam instructions carefully Take note of your audience and what you’re being asked to do Take a few minutes to construct a rough outline / checklist (possibly left side of the booklet) Identify causes of action, issues and parties involved 5

7 In the exam – writing After reading and planning – begin writing. There are a few good techniques to keep in mind about the format of your answer: Choose an ‘audience’ and stick to it – first person or third person if question is legal opinion Make authorities stand out – underline cases Use appropriate abbreviations (case names, pronouns) Headings and structure are your best friends! Answer in a logical and methodical way using IRAC Deal with issues and parties separately (generally) Keep your sentences short 6

8 In the exam – writing (cont) Keeping in mind these stylistic considerations, make the substance of your exam answer great: Keep the purpose of a legal opinion in mind – predicting an outcome The key to a good exam answer is analysis – identify the law and apply the law to the facts you are given Express the law clearly and back it up with authority Don’t forget about the facts – which do you rely upon? Make reasonable assumptions if needed Analyse various arguments but decide on the best one 7

9 In the exam – writing (cont) 8 Analogise or distinguish case facts (big ticks!) – but don’t be too descriptive Be strategic in where you go into detail – uncontested elements etc. Explore outcomes and remedies – this is what the client is ultimately after Conclude on single issues as well as overall

10 In the exam – writing (cont) A good exam answer using IRAC to deal with a specific issue would look something like: Issue: The issue is whether there is a valid contract between X and Y. The elements of a valid contract are: (1) Offer; (2) Acceptance (3) Consideration … etc Rule (Offer): An offer of contract exists where…: Case authority Application (Offer): There appears to be a valid offer in this case because [refer to facts of problem]. Although in Case 123 [ABC] happened, the facts of the present case are distinguishable because… Conclusion: It is likely that a valid offer has been made by X 9

11 In the exam – writing (cont) 10 Things to avoid when writing an exam answer: Just recounting legal principles: this demonstrates knowledge but not analysis Giving history of contentious legal principles – try to summarise the current opposing views Lengthy quotations from authorities Repeating facts from the question or cases Citing secondary sources (textbooks etc) before primary sources (cases and legislation) Reaching legal conclusions before stating the law

12 In the exam – writing (cont) 11 One last thing to always keep in mind: DON’T spend too much time on one question – allocated marks indicate how much time a question needs


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