Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

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slurp
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Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby slurp » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:31 am

if the answer seems clear, write an answer similar to a majority opinion (we consider this, but ultimately this is more relevant to the issue on hand). but if more ambiguous and the professor is hinting towards a side/agreeing with BOTH SIDES, make it like a majority/strong dissent? I just started reading some E+Es/Guides and i think i have a decent grasp of the entry cases. i'm starting to think about taking some practice exams in about a month or so but graded material from professors at my school is fairly limited. looking for some TLS wisdom. i tried some keyword searching but 'opinion' kinda throws it off. tya

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rpupkin
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:20 am

No. Not even close.

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UVA2B
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby UVA2B » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:18 am

rpupkin wrote:No. Not even close.

acr
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby acr » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:43 am

Yes. Begin your answer with "Justice slurp delivered the opinion of the Court." Then include a made up Scalia-esque dissent for dramatic effect and to show your professor you truly grasp the reasoning.

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thesealocust
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby thesealocust » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:48 pm

slurp wrote:if the answer seems clear,


To expand a little on what others have said already, be carefully about this line of thinking.

With some notable exceptions, exams are rarely about figuring out the correct answer. Instead, professor are deliberately picking thorny facts that dance around the grey areas and intersections of the doctrines you study. Your goal is to walk through careful analysis of the resulting issues, not to actually answer "what result?" - they mean it when the call to the question is something like "discuss the rights and liabilities of all parties." Doing well on an exam means thoroughly exploring the professor's questions, not solving a legal puzzle with one right answer.

Assume the answer will never seem clear. You will both save a lot of stress when you sit down to take exams and be better prepared to search for arguments (read: points) on multiple sides of every issue.

AspiringAspirant
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby AspiringAspirant » Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:03 pm

It depends. You shape your approach to an exam to the professor you have. I had a professor that explicitly wanted us to present our answer as if we were writing a majority and dissent for a fact pattern. This would not have went well for many of my other exams. Research what each prof wants.

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Sprout
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby Sprout » Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:53 pm

AspiringAspirant wrote:It depends. You shape your approach to an exam to the professor you have. I had a professor that explicitly wanted us to present our answer as if we were writing a majority and dissent for a fact pattern. This would not have went well for many of my other exams. Research what each prof wants.

this is tcr

My best class was a course I knew almost nothing in but knew how to entertain the professor with my exam (that sounds weird) but it paid off.

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rpupkin
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:26 pm

AspiringAspirant wrote:It depends. You shape your approach to an exam to the professor you have. I had a professor that explicitly wanted us to present our answer as if we were writing a majority and dissent for a fact pattern.

Well, sure. If your professor asks you to draft an opinion, then draft an option. If your professor asks you to draft a piece of legislation, then draft a piece of legislation. If your professor asks you to draft a policy essay, then draft a policy essay. (I never had a "draft an opinion" prompt on an exam, but I did have exams that asked those other types of questions.)

Although you should of course figure out how your professor frames exam questions, the vast majority of law school exams--particularly during 1L--take the form of racehorse, issue-spotter hypotheticals. Unless you have reason to believe that your professor disfavors the common approach, you should assume that you'll be analyzing a fact pattern that raises a bunch of issues. For that type of question, a "judicial opinion" approach would be a mistake.

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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby AspiringAspirant » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:18 pm

rpupkin wrote:
AspiringAspirant wrote:It depends. You shape your approach to an exam to the professor you have. I had a professor that explicitly wanted us to present our answer as if we were writing a majority and dissent for a fact pattern.


Unless you have reason to believe that your professor disfavors the common approach, you should assume that you'll be analyzing a fact pattern that raises a bunch of issues. For that type of question, a "judicial opinion" approach would be a mistake.


The rest of your comment pretty much just repeated what I said with more words, but I don't agree with this bit. You shouldn't assume anything. Check old exams, talk to your professor, etc. and find out what they're actually looking for. The fact that many exams are issue spotters doesn't change anything, especially since everyone's situation is unique. During my 1L, only half of my exams were racehorse issue spotters, and that wasn't clear until I looked into it beforehand.

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rpupkin
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:27 pm

AspiringAspirant wrote:The rest of your comment pretty much just repeated what I said with more words, but I don't agree with this bit. You shouldn't assume anything. Check old exams, talk to your professor, etc. and find out what they're actually looking for. The fact that many exams are issue spotters doesn't change anything, especially since everyone's situation is unique. During my 1L, only half of my exams were issue spotters, and that wasn't clear until I looked into it beforehand.

I don't know who OP's professors are and I don't have access to his professors' past exams. OP asked a question that was necessarily generic (in order to preserve anonymity), and the answer to his question is generally "no."

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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby AspiringAspirant » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:36 pm

rpupkin wrote:
AspiringAspirant wrote:The rest of your comment pretty much just repeated what I said with more words, but I don't agree with this bit. You shouldn't assume anything. Check old exams, talk to your professor, etc. and find out what they're actually looking for. The fact that many exams are issue spotters doesn't change anything, especially since everyone's situation is unique. During my 1L, only half of my exams were issue spotters, and that wasn't clear until I looked into it beforehand.

I don't know who OP's professors are and I don't have access to his professors' past exams. OP asked a question that was necessarily generic (in order to preserve anonymity), and the answer to his question is generally "no."


The answer to his question is "it depends." Unless you're trying to argue that OP doesn't have access to his professors to find out for sure, as I suggested, then I'm not sure what your goal here is...

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:50 pm

I'm presuming that "reason to believe" includes looking at old exams and talking to the prof etc.

But it's pretty safe to say that unless the exam prompt expressly says "provide your answer in the form of a judicial opinion," you can assume that doing so is a bad idea.

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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby AspiringAspirant » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:59 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I'm presuming that "reason to believe" includes looking at old exams and talking to the prof etc.

But it's pretty safe to say that unless the exam prompt expressly says "provide your answer in the form of a judicial opinion," you can assume that doing so is a bad idea.


If you look at old exams and talk to professors, then you aren't "assuming" anything, you know from research what you need to do. But this is starting to go in circles, and no one has really refuted what I've said, so I'll stop here.

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rpupkin
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:06 pm

AspiringAspirant wrote:The answer to his question is "it depends." Unless you're trying to argue that OP doesn't have access to his professors to find out for sure, as I suggested, then I'm not sure what your goal here is...

Based on your premise, most exam-taking advice--including the advice contained in TLS Guides and books like Getting to Maybe--is misguided because it is geared toward the conventional law-school exam.

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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby AspiringAspirant » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:16 pm

rpupkin wrote:
AspiringAspirant wrote:The answer to his question is "it depends." Unless you're trying to argue that OP doesn't have access to his professors to find out for sure, as I suggested, then I'm not sure what your goal here is...

Based on your premise, most exam-taking advice--including the advice contained in TLS Guides and books like Getting to Maybe--is misguided because it is geared toward the conventional law-school exam.


Never read those. But if the guides/books pushed forward one-size-fits-all approaches to exam taking, then I'm glad I didn't. All I've said is that students should cater their exam approach to their professor's philosophy and never assume that they are taking a "conventional law-school exam." That shouldn't be controversial.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:20 pm

But saying that the issue spotter is the most conventional 1L exam and in the absence of any other information the safest to prepare for isn't controversial either.

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pancakes3
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:25 pm

lol, stop being aspy, aspirant.

AspiringAspirant
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby AspiringAspirant » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:29 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:But saying that the issue spotter is the most conventional 1L exam and in the absence of any other information the safest to prepare for isn't controversial either.


Everyone has a professor, therefore there is never an "absence of any other information." If there are no old exams, then go ask your professor. Only on TLS would this advice lead to a debate.

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rpupkin
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:57 pm

AspiringAspirant wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:But saying that the issue spotter is the most conventional 1L exam and in the absence of any other information the safest to prepare for isn't controversial either.


Everyone has a professor, therefore there is never an "absence of any other information." If there are no old exams, then go ask your professor. Only on TLS would this advice lead to a debate.

No one is disputing the advice that a student should find out a professor's exam-question tendencies and patterns. If there's a "debate" here, it's the product of your fixation on the notion that a valid response to the OP's question must include an "it depends" disclaimer.

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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby AspiringAspirant » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:18 pm

rpupkin wrote:
AspiringAspirant wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:But saying that the issue spotter is the most conventional 1L exam and in the absence of any other information the safest to prepare for isn't controversial either.


Everyone has a professor, therefore there is never an "absence of any other information." If there are no old exams, then go ask your professor. Only on TLS would this advice lead to a debate.

No one is disputing the advice that a student should find out a professor's exam-question tendencies and patterns. If there's a "debate" here, it's the product of your fixation on the notion that a valid response to the OP's question must include an "it depends" disclaimer.


To the extent that incomplete statements are invalid statements, yes, your advice is invalid. Although I wasn't interested in telling you your advice was incomplete until you replied to my comment. In any event, this "exchange" -- if that word makes you feel better -- has run its course. The OP can decide whether generic or nuanced advice is more helpful.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Is writing an exam similar to an opinion?

Postby philosoraptor » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:24 pm

Definitely write your exam like a legal opinion. Be sure to include at least 10 pages of assumptions and disclaimers.




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