Getting To Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams 1st Edition
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Finally a study aid that takes legal theory seriously....Students who master these lessons will surely write better exams. More importantly, they will also learn to be better lawyers. --Steven L. Winter, Brooklyn Law School
If you can't spot a 'fork in the law' or a 'fork in the facts' in an exam hypothetical, get this book. If you don't know how to play 'Czar of the Universe' on law school exams (or why), get this book. And if you do want to learn how to think like a lawyer - a good one - get this book. It's, quite simply, stone cold brilliant. --Pierre Schlag, University of Colorado School of Law (Law Preview Book Review on The Princeton Review website)
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Where the book fails to be of help though, is with the IRAC method. I wholeheartedly agree that IRAC is a too-constrictive method of writing that tends to inhibit most students from really expressing what they know. Law professors largely want a mechanical recitation of rules followed by mechanical analysis, so law students spend hours and hours memorizing rules with the ultimate purpose of using them in an IRAC format. It's absurd, but that's the way it is. And this book simply dismisses the fact that lazy law professors love IRAC for the fact that it gives them a template from which they can read and score exams quickly.
But still, you can construct an IRAC using this method, it just doesn't lend itself seamlessly to it, which is pathetic--not with respect to GTM, but to the teaching and testing methods used by professors. If you don't believe me, and if you haven't already done so, go look at model bar answers from your state and see if they employ a rigid IRAC formula. They don't. And so to me, that's what this book was good for--being able to write bar exam quality answers that leave room for a different writing styles and methods of analysis.
If you're just starting law school, buy this book. If you're already in and still struggling, buy this book. If you're the king or queen of fastidious, multiple, anally retentive headers on your exams, read this book and go look at bar answers.
I guess I'll have to update you guys once I see my exams, but so far so good!
The content of the book seems good so far. Just wish it was physically a better copy, and I'm disappointed for having paid full price for this. Shoulda ordered a used copy.
Top international reviews
Book itself is thorough, almost to the point of redundancy, with a breezy, conversational tone. My biggest gripe is the lack of examples. The book's subtitle is 'How to excel in law school exams', but the main focus is on how to do well. I was rather hoping for suggestions of 'a C answer would go like this, a B answer like this, which would differ from the excellent A answer which would do this'. By lacking a contrast (I believe there's a single, early example of a paragraph answer which would get a pass), the book gives you things to think about to do well, but doesn't really help you move from one level to another.
Overall, the book does a good job lining out several formulas for successful exam writing. It provides useful examples to the reader that will probably result in better exam scores for those who understand what is expected of them on their first actual law school exams. However, past those first exams, readers will gain little from the content of this book. Like other readers and fellow "lawschoolers", it is my experience that at least half of your professors will discuss with you what they expect on their exams, and a few may even choose to outline the "sacred" IRAC method in class or on demand. Most students pick up what is expected of them from those teachings or by searching out past exams. Even reading case law may help students understand how they should answer an issue by demonstrating how learned judges apply their own ideas and argument to legal issues.
Most law students know after the first few trials what method works. After that, it is all about your work ethic and that thing located between your ears. The hardest working students are the ones who get the best grades, usually by preparing better than most others. Believe it or not, the problem of knowing how to write a law school exam disappears very quickly for those hardworking enough to search out the resources available to have meaningful, practical repetitions. Reading a book isn't likely to make you a better exam writer. You'll have to dig your hands into the clay before you can master the potter's wheel.
Save your time and money.