Why, How, and When to do Practice Questions

Why Should You Do Practice Questions? 

Practice questions, both multiple choice and essay questions, are essential to your success in law school because law school exams are different than other tests.  Success on law school exams will require much more than memorizing the rules.  In fact, writing the correct rules on your essay exams will not earn many points for your grade.  Students who know HOW to apply the rules have the most success in law school.  The only way to learn HOW to apply the rules is to practice.

Using different problems to test your knowledge is the only way to learn to apply the rules in a variety of ways.  Your law school exams will require you to apply what you know to a variety of different problems, often in a in a number of different ways (multiple choice, short-answer, essays).  Practicing application of legal rules can come in many forms:  doing the problems at the end of the reading assignment, answering true/false questions, answering multiple choice questions, drafting short problems/hypos and the corresponding answers, or writing answers to essay fact patterns. 

 When Should You Do Practice Questions?

We recommend that you do practice questions on a regular basis throughout the semester.  You should do practice questions when your professor is “finished” covering a particular topic.  These “new topics” practice questions should occur every other week or so as you go through the semester.  Make a set time in your study schedule to cover “new topics” practice questions.  Next, set a scheduled time each week to do “review topics” practice questions.

The most effective way to do practice questions is to keep doing them throughout the semester so that you do not forget topics that you cover early on in the semester AND so that you do not leave all of the practice questions for the end of the semester.  Waiting until the end of the semester to do practice questions is a fatal mistake.  Often practice questions will show you what you do not truly understand.  When those areas become clear to you through practice questions early in the semester, you can go through the material again, talk to your classmates, ask questions of the TA, or see your professor to make sure you learn the material.  If you wait until the end of the semester – or if you wait until you have “memorized” the material – you may get “lost” as the semester continues or you may run out of time to get your questions answered on all the topics you are missing in your practice questions.  So, start early and repeat often!  Schedule times for weekly practice questions. 

 Where Can You Get Practice Questions?

See the Academic Success handout  - “Helpful Resources for Practice Questions” – available in the Academic Success suite on the 5th floor.