Monday, December 1, 2008

Exam Success Tip #1: Review Old Exams

Around this time of year, the library fills with 1Ls who are dreading their first law school exams. (Upper-class students are also not immune to this end-of-semester anxiety, even though they have a better idea of what to expect.) During the last week of classes, we're devoting the Goodson Blogson to library tips for exam success. Check back each day for a new tip.


Tip #1. Review Old Exams from your Professors

A frequent question at the library’s service desk during the reading and exam period is where to obtain copies of Law School exams from previous years. The Office of the Registrar currently hosts a database of Exams on File (http://www.law.duke.edu/curriculum/courses/exams), which offers password-protected access to some past exams. Note that participation in Exams on File is at the discretion of the instructor; as a result, the selection is somewhat limited. (Tip #2 will provide suggestions if your professors choose not to provide old exams for review. Note that beginning in the Spring 2009 semester, Exams on File will change to a format in which individual instructors can post exams on the Blackboard course site.)

There is a common misconception that the library maintains a paper archive of exams as well. Although there is a print collection of past Law School exams in the library’s Archives collection (1935-2001), this collection was discontinued when the Exams on File site began. Unless your professor has specifically placed an old exam on Course Reserve (and none has, at the time of this writing), the library has no post-2001 exams in paper format.

If your professor has not included exams in the online database, he or she might be willing to share exams on the class Blackboard site, or at least to detail the general format and specific topics of the exam in class. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information.

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