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School of Law

Back to Exam Preparation

Evaluating Practice Essay Problems

This form was developed as a general guide to reviewing practice essay exam problems and past exam answers. Use this in conjunction with your professor's comments and sample answers. Your goal in doing this exercise is to find strengths and weaknesses in your approach to essay problems. You may bring your practice answers and this form to the Academic Achievement Program to reflect on modifying study patterns and incorporating new strategies into your study routines.

Planning your answer:

  1. Did you take up to time to read through the facts more than once? YES NO
  2. Did you use a checklist or outline to help spot issues? YES NO
  3. Did you make an event line, note the parties, list the issues? YES NO
  4. Did you develop a plan or organization for the way you would write the answer? YES NO
  5. Did you use headings to help yourself stay focused on the issues and parties? YES NO

Answering the Question:
1. Did you follow the directions? YES NO
2. Does the answer follow the form or role called for in the question? YES NO
3. Is this answer responsive to the question your professor asked? YES NO
4. Does the answer respond to all parts of the question? YES NO

Spotting issues:
1. Did you identify issues by listing or diagramming them on scrap paper before you started writing? YES NO [If not, this is a good way to increase issue spotting skills.]
Issues you saw: (List)
Issues in the model answer: (List)
How many issue are in your answer?____
How many issues are in the model answer?____

Analyzing the analysis:
1. Does the answer link legal principles to the facts that call for these theories? YES NO

2. Does the analysis include all logical steps to a conclusion? YES NO

3. Does the answer explore more than one possible way to think of this situation? YES NO

4. Are the facts examined from the perspectives of all parties? YES NO

Organizing answers:
1. The answer to the question has a logical sequence of analysis. YES NO

2. The answer follows the chronology of the hypothetical, or another sequence suggested by the question. YES NO

3. The organization of the analysis of each issue follows IRAC or another organizing pattern taught by your professor. YES NO

Knowing and Accessing Course Material:
1. The answer applies the course content accurately. YES NO

2. Choice of legal principle is relevant to the professor's question? YES NO

3. Legal terminology is used appropriately? YES NO

4. Policy issues are discussed as needed? YES NO

5. My outline helps me analyze problems? YES NO

Note any other patterns you found in working through your answers.

Now, add the number of yes responses in each category. If there are many no responses in a category, you may want to rethink your approach to answering questions. Any one negative response can point to a weakness. The yes responses indicate strengths. Finding strengths and weaknesses before the actual exam allows you to develop strategies for countering weaknesses and using your strengths. If you want additional strategies, stop by the Academic Achievement Program office.

*© Martha M. Peters, Ph.D. 1999