Friday, December 3, 2010

Exam-Time Excellence

It's reading & examination period at the Law School, and that means our students are busily preparing outlines and reviewing class notes. As stress levels rise and preparation time grows short, the Goodson Blogson wants to review some of the most common questions at the service desk lately.

Library Access

As previously reported (both here and in certain other legal blogs of note), exam time brings a temporary change to the library’s access policy, most notably in the evening hours. From now until the end of exams (Saturday, December 18), access to the Goodson Law Library for study purposes will be limited to current Duke Law students, faculty and staff. Card-swipe access to the library entrance will be required after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.

Members of the Duke University community who require access to the library for research purposes should contact the library service desk for assistance. Additional study space is available to all throughout the building, in the Star Commons (Level 3 and 4), the Blue Lounge (Level 2), and Room 3041.

Getting Technical

If you plan to use your laptop to take an exam, make sure you have installed Electronic Bluebook (EBB) well ahead of time, and practice using it to ensure that your test goes smoothly! Detailed instructions are available on the Academic Technologies' Computing for Students page. If you encounter problems while downloading the software, talk to the Academic Technologies' Help Desk staff.

Reviewing Old Exams

A frequent question at the Reference Services desk during the reading and exam period is where to obtain copies of Law School exams from previous years. Past exams from your professors, where available, will be posted to your class Blackboard site. There is a common misconception that the library maintains an archive of exams as well. Although there is a print collection of past Law School exams in the library’s Archives collection (1935-2001), most of these are either from faculty who no longer teach at Duke or for faculty/course combinations which are no longer current for Fall 2010. The library has no post-2001 exams in paper or online formats.

What to Expect

If your professors have chosen not to place past exams on Blackboard, it may be helpful to review general law examination preparation guidebooks. These provide an overview of the most common formats for law school exams, and give strategies for studying and for writing successful answers. Often, these books also provide model exam questions and sample answers, along with explanations why a particular answer is more successful than others. Titles like Mastering the Law School Exam: A Practical Blueprint for Preparing and Taking Law School Exams can be found in the libraries’ catalog with a subject search for “Law examinations—United States”. A selected listing is provided in the “Exam Preparation” section of the library’s Law School Success handout, along with a helpful page of recommended "Study Guides & Aids."

Anything Else?

As always, the library staff are here to help. Visit the Service Desk on level 3 with any questions. Good luck on your exams!