Monday, April 11, 2011

The ABCs of Final Exams

With only a week left until the end of spring classes, final exams are lurking right around the corner (see tentative schedule). No need to panic, though – there’s still plenty of time to prepare with our ABCs.
  1. Assemble those outlines. Can’t decipher your own shorthand in your class notes from January? Have you read one tricky section of the casebook four times and still don’t understand the court’s holding? Fill in those gaps with some popular law study aids, on Reserve behind the library service desk. Some favorites include: Examples & Explanations (also available in large previews at Google Books); the Hornbook and Nutshell series from West; the Understanding series from LexisNexis, and the pocket-sized Mastering texts.

  2. Bring past exams to light. Your professor may opt to post sample exams on the course’s Blackboard site. Please note that the library no longer maintains a collection of old exams in print or online formats; our collection in the Law Archives dates from 1935-2001, and was replaced by the online approach in place today. While the Harvard Law Library’s recent digitization of its past exams may prove interesting to legal historians, we’re doubtful that our own historical exam collection will be very useful to panicking students. If your professor has declined to provide examples of old exams on Blackboard, instead try tactic #3…

  3. Consult law exam study guides. You may not have an old exam from your specific professor, but you can still check out some general guides to preparing for law school exams, which give study tips and strategies for writing the most successful answers. Titles like Law School Exams: Preparing and Writing to Win and 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”.

  4. Double-check your Electronic Bluebook settings. You’ve probably downloaded EBB in preparation for previous semesters’ exams. The Spring 2011 version is the same as Fall 2010’s, so there’s no need to reinstall. But even if you used this version EBB successfully in the past, it couldn’t hurt to re-read the setup instructions and take a test run before your first exam this spring to ensure there are no errors or other unexpected surprises. Contact the Academic Technologies Help Desk for questions about downloading or using EBB, and make sure you know what to do if you have a problem during an exam.
As always, Ask a Librarian for help accessing these recommended titles, or for any other exam-related questions.