SA Australian Law Students - Expectations During Exams?

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Ellewoods_1983

Active Member
6 December 2018
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Hi all,

I'm a first-year Australian law student. Exam questions were given prior to the exam. It is hand written, closed book essay writing. My question is what are the expectations? Do I cite and I reference?

Cheers
 

DMLegal

Well-Known Member
28 May 2018
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Elle Woods :D I like it!

Very kind of your lecturer/tutor to provide the questions prior to the exam, although the closed book part is a shame.

Typically you only need to cite given footnotes on an exam paper would be a nightmare. When I was a uni, quite some time ago now, we were only required to give the names of the parties as the citation i.e. Donoghue v Stevenson and not Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] UKHL 100. We were also not required to give pin-point references. Legislation we were required to give the full citation, although were permitted to abbreviate if we wished - the first citation would be Civil Liability Act 2002 (WA) ('CLA') s 5 and thereafter it would be CLA s 5.

Hope that helps, good luck!
 
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Tim W

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It seems rather late in the year to be asking such questions.
My university released our Second Semester results this morning....

But, since you ask,
  1. This is exactly the kind of question that you should ask
    either your Unit Co-ordinator, or your Head of Academic Program
    (by whatever names those people are called at your Law School).

  2. What is required can vary by institution.
    For example, at the university where I teach, we do not insist on
    pinpoint citations in closed book law examinations.

  3. That said, we do expect the names of legislation to be used correctly,
    in full at least once in each answer, and if abbreviated, using only approved abbreviations.

  4. Try not to sweat too much. Remember that exams are written such that
    the mid range student, properly prepared, has a reasonable chance to score
    50% of the available marks. It doesn't start to get hard until next year.

As to exam writing generally, allow me to make the following suggestions...
(bear in mind that I've only marked about 1500 written exam papers,
over seven years....)


  1. Markers are looking for things to give you marks for
    (I call it the "scoring shots" principle, like basketball, or boxing).
    Therefore, clarity in writing is everything.
    One idea per sentence. No more than two subordinate clauses in any one sentence.
    One topic per paragraph. No more than three to five sentences per paragraph.
    Do not use the passive voice.


  2. Your handwriting is much, much, worse than you think.

    Markers can't award marks for work they, literally, cannot read.

    I therefore suggest using double line spacing in your written work (such as I am doing in this paragraph.


  3. Don't start writing until you've had a think first.
    Logic, conciseness, and relevance to the question,
    will score you more than an answer that is only voluminous,
    or merely generic.
 
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Reag

Well-Known Member
5 April 2018
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Just wait for Land/Real Property Law, Constitutional Law and Equity...makes first year feel like a pub quiz.

So far with law, correct me if I'm wrong, but the difficulty is in the sheer amount of work required... just like other fields such as medicine. You don't have to be smart to achieve well academically, just have to be well organised, seek plenty of tutoring when needed, and be a meticulous studyholic. Hence, most academics are not really as smart as they give themselves credit for, especially in the high scoring fields. Am I right?

But thanks for the heads up...
 
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DMLegal

Well-Known Member
28 May 2018
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So far with law, correct me if I'm wrong, but the difficulty is in the sheer amount of work required... just like other fields such as medicine. You don't have to be that smart to achieve well academically, just have to be well organised and seek tutoring when needed (being a studyholic is a must). Hence, most academics are not really as smart as they think they are, especially in the high scoring fields. Am I right?

Well, I think it depends on what you consider to be a ‘smart’ person. I would consider a ‘smart’ person to include, although definitely not limited to, a person who can digest 400+ pages of case law per week, understand the principles therein and be able to apply them to a factual scenario. I do think no matter how smart you are if you are disorganised or have poor time management you will struggle.

I can’t really comment on the superiority complex you say most academics have; in my experience they were down-to-earth individuals who have a passion for teaching and researching law. Indeed it may be that your experience was different so I won’t say your wrong, but I don’t agree.
 
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Reag

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5 April 2018
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a person who can digest 400+ pages of case law per week.

A wise person once told me, in regards to law school, all the smart ones have left, all the dumb ones remain or it could go either way, i.e. vice versa!
 

Tim W

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....most academics are not really as smart as they give themselves credit for, especially in the high scoring fields. Am I right?
No, indeed you are not.
And with it, damnably impolite towards those (including at least one law academic...)
who made the effort to help you.

But don't worry, I'm sure you'll make an excellent taxi driver.
 
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Rob Legat - SBPL

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In my personal experience, most if not all of the law school lecturers I’ve met have also been either recently practising lawyers or concurrently practising lawyers. They’re not academics in the pejorative sense, without practical understanding.
 
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