How to Find and Take Practice Exams
Taking practice exams and reviewing your responses is an excellent way to prepare for law school exams (and, later, for the bar exam).
Finding practice exams
- Go to the “Sample Examinations” tab at http://www.my.whittier.edu, and download exams written by your professors and by other Whittier professors teaching the same subjects.
- Many commercial guides contain practice exam questions. These books are available in our ASP and Bar Support Viewing Library and the Reserve Section of the Law Library.
- The California State Bar website, located at http://www.calbar.ca.gov, posts selected questions and sample passing answers from its First-Year Examination. Go to the “Future Lawyers” tab, then the “First Year Law Students’ Examination” link, then the “Questions and Selected Answers” link. First-year law students should focus on the First-Year Law Student Examination Questions, while second and third-year law students may want to review the released bar exam essays. Please note, however, that while the sample answers were deemed sufficient to pass on the bar exam, they may not be appropriate models for a law school exam because your professor will have likely covered the topics in greater detail.
- CALI.org offers multiple-choice questions to test your competency in specific areas of first-year courses. Contact the law library to help you access your CALI account.
Taking practice exams
- Taking practice exams will be most effective if done regularly throughout the semester. To help you consistently apply the concepts you have been exploring in each of your classes, you may want to rotate a couple of subject areas each week. Other students may prefer to focus their practice exams exclusively on one subject area each week. While it is not necessary to have a set plan for which subjects you will focus on week by week, it is important to have time set aside exclusively for this task, and to be consistent throughout the semester. This level of commitment will help you improve upon your exam-taking skills.
- While taking your practice exams, progress towards simulating real exam conditions. With your first practice exams, simply make sure to work in a time and space free from distractions. To the extent you need to, use all of your resources (outlines, notes, and books) to help you structure your response. Feel free to spend as much time as you need to complete the response, because the point of taking practice exams at this point is to make sure you understand the material, and can apply it appropriately to the hypothetical with clarity. However, as the semester progresses, start taking closed-book examinations, to get a sense of what you have retained from the semester and what you need to review. Give yourself progressively stricter time limits for completing your practice exams, so you can work on your time management skills. By the end of the semester, you should be comfortable taking exams under actual final exam conditions.
- With each practice exam you tackle, you want to complete the entire exam-taking process. Just as a musician will not master his instrument until he has hit upon each key, a law student will not master taking law school exams if he does not consistently practice the entire process. Thus, taking a practice exam should include all stages of taking an exam. This includes each component of pre-writing (i.e., reading the question, reading the hypothetical, brainstorming, and preparing a detailed outline), then writing an essay response, and finally taking a couple of minutes to complete a review to check for consistency and clarity in your document.
- Take time to review the exam. Each practice exam is an opportunity to improve upon your knowledge, pre-writing skills, time management, and writing style. To improve in these areas, it is necessary to review your process and final work product by checking it against a sample answer or by meeting with Academic Support. If, while reviewing a sample answer, you see that you have left out issues entirely, consider going back and writing this section into your response in your own words to practice tackling such issues in the future. Also, by taking the time to receive feedback on how you can improve upon your process and work product, you will be able to integrate this feedback into future practice exams, and ultimately into your final exams.