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December 08, 2004

How Professors Might Write Finals

Anonymous Law Professor, a new blawgger who claims to be a fictional version of just what the name implies, has written a candid description of how a law professor writes and grades exams. Fascinating, really. You might find some insights that will help you prepare for your own finals this season. Or you might just be horrified or amused. Some beautiful bits to warm the cockles of your heart:
I have some favorites cases that I use over and over again, mainly because they consistently fool significant numbers of first years. . . . I like to have at least one of the cases based entirely on an issue that was only raised in the notes of the case book. Maybe 40% of the students typically have no idea what I am trying to get them to say with respect to this case. I know students do not read the notes, and because of this the students really struggle with this case/issue. For missing this case/issue, the best a student can typically do is a “C” or its equivalent.
Oh, and this should cheer you up as well:
By integrating facts from four cases into one or two essays, I have found that about 30% of the class fails to finish the exam. This is by design. The more students who do not finish, or that fall for my contrived trickery, the easier it is for me to grade (more on grading later--probably as I am grading this semester's exams).
Yeah! That's what we love to hear! The comments on the post are lively, and include a claim that the Anonymous Law Professor is full of malarcky. In fact, another law professor makes that claim. And maybe the whole thing is in jest. Maybe. It says it's by a fictional law professor, right? So just put it out of your head and get back to studying, why don't you? UPDATE: Just noticed Professor Althouse also argues that AnonLawProf is not a law professor, but a law student satirizing a law professor. Just to add grist to the mill, I'll point out that law professors might generally have a certain interest in claiming that AnonLawProf is a fake. That doesn't mean AnonLawProf is legit, it's just a point to consider, because you really need more distractions from studying, don't you?

Posted by mowabb at December 8, 2004 07:39 AM

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