Ultra Vires


The Administration’s Guide to Writing a Law School Exam

Kevin Schoenfeldt (2L)

The administration asked us to print this how-to guide for writing law school exams, out of concern that students were ignoring their emails. Since it is in the public interest, we agreed.

Dear 1Ls,

So you’re about to write your first law school exams. Forget every single thing you’ve ever known about writing exams. Every. Single. Thing.

You think you know how to write an exam already? Wrong. You think law exams are basically just like any other exam? Nope. Wrong. You think you’re smart enough to get by without a how-to? THINK AGAIN.

Here is our step-by-step guide to making it through your first exam period without having to come cry to us about how badly you did.

  1. Forget everything you think you know about writing exams. You thought we were kidding? We were not.
  2. Go back in time 4 months. Do all of your readings. What’s that? You claim you did all of your readings? We are not morons. We know you’re lying. Sure, some of you are good, serious people who did all your work. The rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves, and there’s no such thing as time machines, so you did this to yourselves.
  3. Be ashamed of yourself.
  4. Set at least forty-five alarms for the morning of your exam if you think you need to. You do need to. You do not live right. Even if it’s an afternoon exam, you will probably sleep in and your tears mean nothing to us. Set your alarm early if you have to. One hour, two hours, as many as you think are necessary to be up and ready on time.
  5. Get a good night’s sleep. There’s nothing more important.
  6. Eat a nice breakfast. Not that garbage food you usually shovel into your mouths. Eat something nice, like maybe some orange slices, yogurt and granola, and some berries. Do not even drink one drop of coffee or else you will feel so nervous that you will not be able to leave your house. YOU CANNOT WRITE YOUR EXAM FROM YOUR HOUSE.
  7. Have multiple routes to school planned, using multiple modes of transportation. Draw a map. You’ve been here before, but this is the morning of an exam, your brain will not be working properly. If you normally walk to school, you may forget how to walk. Do not be alarmed, follow your backup plan. If you wish, you may submit your backup plans by December 1, and we will ensure you didn’t screw them up.
  8. Know what room you’re writing in. This is simple.
  9. When you first get into your exam room, consider screaming and shouting as loud as possible for two full minutes. This will help activate your brain. Surely there is a Ted Talk that says this. Once this is done, if you are able to, ensure you are sitting as far away from all your classmates as possible. They cannot be trusted.
  10. When the exam begins, intelligently spot and discuss all the issues in each fact pattern in the clearest language possible, with reference to cases you have studied in class. If you have read our “How to Study for a Law School Exam” guide and then studied properly, you should have no problem at all. But you probably did not. You do not live right.

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