Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Time limits and law school exams

For the second time this semester, I took an exam that I could have used at least another half hour to complete. Professors write exams where most students write until the very second time is called. As a result, I usually submit answers that are formatted poorly, and that include either too much information, or not enough.

I am a "ponderer." I like to think things through and determine the best course of action, not just a "good" course of action. This personality and law school exams are like oil and water. They just don't mix. This means that I take exams in areas of the law that I am familiar with and enjoy, but give the professor the impression that I am clueless about them in the end.

Why can't they just give us more time on the exams? If they are worried about those students who write too much, they can give us a word limit. That won't hurt anyone. I welcome it actually. The real skills they should be testing are those that apply to the real world. In real life, a client doesn't ask your opinion and expect a thorough response in 3 hours or less. They want an idea of their options during the meeting, and a well thought out response later. What we really should be asking of students is that they THINK about things and keep written work to a reasonable length.

What do you think?


John said...

In the real world, would a client ask you to give them an answer in 1000 words or less?

Both are possible. Both happen sometimes. A client asks for a quick answer to make a move on something and just wants your best guess. A client asks for an executive summary of what you did.

Word limit, time limit, it's all an artificial limit which means you're testing test-taking skills rather than complete substantive knowledge. A word limit just tests a different skill than a time limit.

Overthee Hill said...

John, the reason I proposed a word limit is that this artificial restriction is similar to one in the real world. Many courts impose restrictions on the length of briefs, motions and other court documents.