The Eight Secrets of Top Exam Performance in Law School is a book authored by law professor Charles H. Whitebread. This simple and straightforward resource describes a step-by-step procedure for approaching a traditional law school essay exam question. A copy of this book is available in the Career Development Office.
Before the book reveals its eight steps to exam success, it provides an overview of the general nature of the first year of law school, its unique challenges, and how to counteract the intimidation that many students experience.
There is some overlap among the eight secrets, and the first two largely involve effective time management. Specifically, the author offers advice about how to allocate time between the questions on the exam as well as between the issues within each question. The third secret then reveals how to read and understand what a question is asking before answering it.
Secrets four through six provide the reader with tips about how to organize and write an answer. The fourth secret gives advice about how to answer questions on certain subjects (e.g., torts and criminal law) as compared to other subjects and suggests study materials (e.g., outlines) students may find helpful in preparing for an exam. The fifth secret walks the reader through the commonly-known IRAC format and provides warnings about common pitfalls to which students often succumb when writing their answers.
After providing tips about organization in the fourth and fifth secrets, the sixth secret demonstrates how to turn outlined thoughts into a written answer. The author proposes general techniques and practical tips for dealing with matters such as citing case names and statutes, assuming facts, recovering after writing an unorganized answer, and how to avoid writing about irrelevant things. There is also a section on the pros and cons of hand-writing versus typing the exam.
The seventh secret advises the reader about how to study, digest the class as whole before the exam, and make predictions about what types of questions will be asked.
The final secret offers a brief description of other types of exam questions a student may face (e.g., multiple choice, take-home, short answer, and policy questions) and gives some helpful tips. The book then concludes with an appendix that offers sample essay questions and model answers on subjects such as criminal law and procedure, wills and trusts, property, torts, contracts, and civil procedure.
As a whole, this resource, consisting of only 99 pages, is a quick and easy read. The book would be helpful to anyone taking a law school exam for the first time as well as anyone looking to improve his or her exam-writing abilities.