Category Archives: Exams

Making the Most of Midterms

Midterm season is just around the corner. Midterms are your crystal ball showing your future exam-taking self and a window to the essence of your learning style. They can be incredibly helpful to inform and adjust your study habits to achieve your academic apotheosis in December. Some students take them without much extra study just to see how well they can do on regular, daily reading. But if you want to do some additional preparation for midterms, we have some tips to help you excel.

  1. Study aids for exam practice. The book Getting to Maybe has helped many budding lawyers learn to thrive in a field laden with slippery “it depends” answers instead of familiar, concrete facts. Crunch Time on Wolters Kluwer provides flow charts, multiple choice, short answer, and essay exam questions. West Academic provides Exam Pro practice questions for multiple-choice and essay exam practice, and Mastering the Exam for tips that will help you throughout law school. CALI offers podcasts featuring panels of experts on outlining, time management, exam prep, and the grading process.

  2. Take past exams to prepare. Thinking like a lawyer involves more than just repeating memorized knowledge. Unexpected scenarios will test your ability to apply and analyze the law. The Law Library’s Past Exams collection can help; even if it’s not from your professor, authentic issue-spotting exams from Sandra day O’Connor College of Law faculty offer invaluable practice in 1L and upper-level classes. 

  3. Refine your outline. Making an outline is probably the best way to study legal doctrine and make the connections between the rule of law and the court’s reasoning. ASU’s past outlines are most useful to check your own work as you process your notes and readings. Your class teaching assistant is a great resource for resolving discrepancies.

  4. Meet with a Law Librarian. Meeting with a librarian about your open memo can buy yourself valuable study time for other classes. We can help you navigate Westlaw and Lexis to find all relevant law efficiently and thoroughly.

  5. Breathe. Remember that no one exam will make or break your professional dreams, not even the ones you’ll take in December. Good luck!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Study to Your Strengths with the Law Library

Everyone learns a little differently. While mastering the Socratic method helps most lawyers optimize their professional performance, when it comes to acing a law school final, studying with tools that work particularly well for you can be critical.

Above all, pay attention to your professor. The one who wrote your test likely knows best.

The Ross-Blakley Law Library also provides a wide variety of study tools in print and online to help you master course materials and put your skills to the test before exam day. Here are some suggestions for particular learning styles:

  • In-depth explanation: The Examples and Explanations series provides detailed discussions of how the law operates. It also tests learners’ understanding with problems that can help a reader apply the law to a variety of fact patterns. E&E can be particularly useful to review any concepts that may have been more challenging in class.
  • Flashcards: Many students respond well to the challenge of recalling definitions, elements, or factors of legal concepts. Ask at the circulation desk about the law library’s collection of flashcards.
  • Audio/video: Video lectures and audiobooks can help students replicate the interpersonal, human approach to learning during Reading Week.
  • Visual learners: The Crunchtime series provides flowcharts, which help students break down the often complicated procedures for analyzing facts into a series of simple steps.
  • Practice questions: The Exam Pro series provides an extensive array of practice questions to help students prepare for multiple choice finals, and the Friedman’s Practice Series challenges students spot issues in large fact patterns before essay exams.

Meet with a reference librarian for help finding the best resources for your learning style. Good luck with finals!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Stay in Control in Times of Stress

Staying aware of the present moment can improve your focus and performance in stressful situations, mindfulness and meditation studies indicate. It doesn’t take a deserted lakeside forest, perfect lotus posture, or hours of a silenced mind to achieve mindfulness. It’s a skill—a secular skill–useful for everyone, and particularly useful for lawyers and law students who maintain a busy schedule with overlapping work and academic deadlines as well as networking and social commitments.

Awareness of the present moment can not only dull stinging worries about the future. It can improve an attorney’s concentration, active listening, and understanding when meeting with clients or representing them. Law schools and universities are increasingly recommending mindfulness training and offering mindfulness programs to help students cope in times of increased academic pressure. And although it might sound like a luxury or one more task for an already bloated schedule, mindfulness can actually save time, with improved attention and performance.

Mindfulness is not a luxury for people with lives of leisure or an all consuming experience that must dominate a busy person’s time. In fact, some experts suggest that simply taking a minute or two to calm the mind can calm stress, and lead to a more focused practice that can clear a cluttered mind and improve health and wellbeing.

Whether you are a regular attendee of the student Zen Law and Mindfulness Association at ASU Law or you have never considered a mindfulness practice before, the law library has compiled resources that can help you build this skill. Check out our research guide Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School for academic studies, guided meditations, and brief guides to improve your attention and awareness.

And as the semester winds down, the reference librarians are here to help with research questions, legal citation, or to bolster research you’ve already done. Click on Meet with a Librarian to schedule a brief, efficient, time saving appointment with a JD holding reference librarian.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Your Professional Obligation Not to Overlook the MPRE

While the MPRE, or Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, is the smaller and less grueling of the two exams required for admission to the bar in Arizona and most other states, failure to respect its significance can cost you valuable time.

The MPRE is administered only three times per year, in spring, summer, and fall, so students who miss the minimum 85 score required to pass in Arizona could face a long wait to retake it. And the spring and fall exams can become a burden in the middle of a law school semester. To help you avoid this potential speedbump, the Ross-Blakley Law Library has updated its Bar Exam and MPRE Resources Library Guide to highlight MPRE study resources and exam preparation courses.  

In addition to valuable resources in the print Study Skills collection on the third floor in front of the circulation desk, the library subscribes to online study resources to help you master legal ethics. Wolters Kluwer offers Strategies and Tactics for the MPRE, which provides tips and dozens of practice questions to help you prepare for the two-hour MPRE, which includes sixty multiple choice questions. West Academic, for its part, offers an efficient resource for last minute MPRE preppers, The Weekend MPRE, which includes two full length practice exams.

For students seeking more depth in their knowledge pool of professional responsibility, CALI offers a series of lessons highlighting specific issues arising under the law governing lawyers. Wolters Kluwer, in addition, provides detailed guidance in solving legal ethical problems in Examples & Explanations: Professional Responsibility.

For perhaps a preview of the bar exam preparation course to follow, a number of exam preparation companies offer free MPRE preparation courses (see box at top right). Finally, we have compiled Web resources including the full texts of the rules and commentary governing attorney and judicial conduct, as well as resources offering valuable advice on study and exam taking skills.

For additional help choosing materials to prepare for the MPRE, the bar exam, or law school exams or research projects in general, please Meet with a Librarian.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Exam Prep: The Law Library Can Help

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The Law Library has an abundance of resources to help you prepare for your exams.

  • Our online study aids subscriptions will help build your confidence.
    WK Online Study Aid
    West Academic Study Aids
  • CALI tutorials are written by law faculty and librarians from American law schools. They are reviewed and revised on a regular basis. The lessons are designed to help you become accustomed to taking multiple-choice examinations and provide feedback to your answers.
  • You may access Law School Past Exams from the Law Library’s web site. Many faculty members make their past exams available to students as a teaching aid.

The law library collects a wide range of study materials because they present similar material differently. We want to accommodate for different learning styles. Some materials serve different functions. One title may restate class materials in a summary form (Examples & Explanations), while another may give you a boatload of practice multiple choice questions (Q&A), and another may be audio lectures for your commute (Sum & Substance). To determine which you like the most, it is best to skim the content either in the library or online to see what will work best for you. Please consult our succinct study skills materials chart to guide you through the semester:PDF icon Study Aids Chart

If there is anything specific you might need help with as you prepare to study for your exams, please don’t’ hesitate to schedule an appointment to Meet with a Librarian.

We wish you the best of luck!

Bar Prep: The Law Library Can Help Equip You for the Ultimate Final

My Post (16)Graduating from law school is a huge achievement and a new beginning, maybe more so than finishing high school or college. For most students even after they submit their last exams and papers, the ultimate final exam awaits.

And bar prep isn’t just for 3Ls. The courses you take and study skills you learn during law school can help you clear the final hurdle on your way to a legal career.

Whether you’re a rising 2L or 3L or newly minted grad, the Law Library is here for you. Our Bar Exam and MPRE Resource Guide gathers the resources you’ll need to reach the magic passing number: 273 points on the Uniform Bar Exam in Arizona.

First, we have tips for getting started, such as choosing a jurisdiction, planning a study strategy, and finding the right books for the job. We also point you to the requirements in Arizona and other states to sit for the exam and join the bar.

Analyzing and answering legal questions on the bar exam is a skill that strengthens only with practice. Print and online study aids help you develop essential exam skills and provide lots of opportunities to test your knowledge. Especially helpful resources include Professor Chad Noreuil’s The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam, which helps students find the proper mindset for success, and Steven L. Emanuel’s Strategies & Tactics for the MBE, which provides concise reviews of all multiple choice subjects, with dozens of practice questions for each.

We also point you toward the commercial bar exam review courses that most students find essential. The guide also breaks down the elements of the Uniform Bar Exam administered in multiple states, including Arizona, so you’ll know what you’ll be facing: two hundred multiple choice questions, six essay questions, and two closed-universe legal documents.

The bar exam is difficult, but as ASU students, you can be confident in your likelihood of success. The bar exam and the array of aids can be a lot to take in, so our reference librarians are happy to help you navigate the options and find the right study aids for you.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020! And best of luck on the bar.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Exam Prep: The Law Library Can Help

Test Taking

The Law Library has an abundance of resources to help you prepare for your exams.

  • Our online study aids subscriptions will help build your confidence.
    WK Online Study Aid
    West Academic Study Aids
  • CALI tutorials are written by law faculty and librarians from American law schools. They are reviewed and revised on a regular basis. The lessons are designed to help you become accustomed to taking multiple-choice examinations and provide feedback to your answers.
  • Our print Study Skills Collection is located on the third floor of the Law Library across from the Circulation Desk. The collection brings together an array of study aids to help you prepare for your exams. All the materials in the Study Skills Collection may be checked out for two weeks and are renewable twice. We also have a print collection of Exam Preparation Guides you may find useful.
  • You may access Law School Past Exams from the Law Library’s web site. Many faculty members make their past exams available to students as a teaching aid.

If there is anything specific you might need help with as you prepare to study for your exams, please don’t’ hesitate to schedule an appointment to Meet with a Librarian.

We wish you the best of luck!

Free Online Access to Study Aids/Supplements

The Law Library provides ASU Law students with free access to over 500 study aids/course supplements through the West Academic Study Aids Subscription.

  • 24/7 access – you can access the study aids anytime online
  • Full-content searching – a single search generates results from every relevant title
  • Highlight and take notes – you can highlight text and take notes just like in a book
  • Popular titles – Gilbert Law Summaries, Nutshell Series, High Court Case Summaries, Flash Cards, Exam Pro Series, Acing Series, Legalines, and more!

To create your account:

  • Go to the West Academic Study Aids website
  • Click the “Create an Account” icon in the upper right corner of the page
  • Choose “I am a Student”
  • Complete the form and click “Create Account”

* Returning 2L and 3L students: There is a new platform for the study aids subscription this year.  You will no longer access the study aids through your Westlaw account, but rather through the West Academic Study Aids website.

Using CALI to Study for Exams

At some point in the coming weeks you will probably reach the point where you feel like you simply cannot look at your course outline one more time.  At this point (and even before!) reviewing for your exam via a CALI lesson is a great idea. CALI lessons are interactive, computer-based tutorials published by the non-profit Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction.  With our school’s CALI membership you have access to over 900 interactive lessons in over 30 legal subjects.  You can find them all at cali.org/lesson.

You must have an account with CALI to access the lessons.  Account registration requires our school’s authorization code, which is available on the Law Library’s Using CALI webpage (sign in with your ASURITE ID).  You can also get the code by visiting the Law Library Reference Office and chatting with a librarian.  Please note that you only need to use this authorization code the first time you register. You can find registration instructions here.

Good luck on finals!

Law School is Tough, Even for Super Bowl Champions

Exams are right around the corner and you may still be trying to work through all those hearsay exceptions for your evidence final, but you can take heart in the fact that law school is tough for everyone – even two-time Super Bowl champions.  Randall Gay, who won the Super Bowl while playing for the New England Patriots in 2004 and the New Orleans Saints in 2009, is now a 1L at the Southern University Law School.  Gay compares the rigors of the NFL to law school:

“I didn’t have to really study for football. It’s just something you know. Now, I’m starting from scratch writing briefs. I don’t know what a brief is. I’m taking a tort class. I don’t know what a tort is. In football, we have seven days to prepare. Now I have to do assignments and have them done by the next day. But I’ve learned to adapt quickly.” (Randall Gay Trades Playbooks for Law Books, 9News Neighborhood)

We wish both you and Randall the best of luck as you head in to this exam season.  If you would like some tips and resources to help you prepare for your tests and papers, check out these past Ross-Blakley Law Library Blog posts: