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Saturday, April 13, 2013

How do you know your exam is ready?

A while back, someone asked when and how you know an article is ready to be sent out. Well, that question also can be asked about exams. I find myself reviewing and re-reviewing and re-re-reviewing my Civ Pro exam, making sure every word is precisely correct and making largely cosmetic changes (changing "this" to "that", etc.), almost certainly to the point of diminishing returns. In other words, the same thing I do in the closing stages of an article.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on April 13, 2013 at 02:33 PM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink


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Law departments in Ireland (and I think in England, Wales, and Scotland too) generally require examinations to be reviewed by a departmental colleague and then reviewed a second time by an independent or outside reviewer.

After the examination, at year end, the department meets collectively to hold an "examination board". The outside reviewers attend this meeting. Any number of things might happen at such a meeting, including further critiques of one another's examinations (and grades).

I do not know think there is anything quite like this in (most, or, perhaps, in any) U.S. law schools, but perhaps there should be?

Nat’l Univ. of Ireland Maynooth, Lecturer of Law
Ollscoil na hÉireann, Má Nuad

Posted by: Seth Tillman | Apr 14, 2013 1:11:37 PM

I know of at least one law school in which all the teachers of a given course meet to compare grades and ensure that their curves roughly match-up and one law school in which all the teachers in a given section meet to do the same thing. Obviously, that all happens post-exam-writing and post-grading.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Apr 14, 2013 3:37:27 PM

In schools with mandatory curves, or at least curve ranges, don't the grades and curves of all the classes always have to more or less match up?

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Apr 14, 2013 7:07:56 PM

Orin: At least for 1L classes, I can see a reason for having conversations among sections of a particular course or within a particular section to ensure some consistency within that curve range, or at least good reasons for inconsistency. Some curves leave a pretty wide range.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Apr 14, 2013 10:12:11 PM

The idea of having a second set of eyes looking at exams is an excellent one. The problem is in persuading otherwise busy professors to devote a couple of hours to someone else's exam.

Posted by: Douglas Levene | Apr 15, 2013 9:25:53 PM

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