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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Exams: The Good, The Bad, and Well, You Know

I'm delighted to be back for another blogging stint; as always, thanks to Dan and the other Prawfs bosses for creating and maintaining this community.  It's early November -- which I know because my exam-writing alarm clock is starting to ring in my head.  So I'll begin my stint here on Prawfs by asking a question I've asked before: as a teacher or a student, what have been the best and worst exams you've written or taken, and why?  I don't mean, of course, which exam you performed best on.  I'd just like to invite people to share stories of exams they thought were particularly well-crafted or the reverse, and why.  This is the perfect time to share these stories, since the alarm clock is probably starting to ring for every law prof out there.  So let us know: what worked, what didn't, and why?

Posted by Bill Araiza on November 5, 2013 at 03:52 PM in Teaching Law | Permalink


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My wife had an undergrad exam (can't remember the class-something sociology or anthropology related) in which they were given New Yorker cartoons and asked to discuss how the cartoon related to various theories and concepts. I wondered aloud a few years ago about trying to do something like that on a law school exam; the response from a segment of readers/commenters was about what you'd expect.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Nov 5, 2013 6:44:46 PM

I've blogged about the essay question as an unrecognized avenue of artistic expression here:


And sure, the testing aspect of the exam far surpasses the creative fiction aspect in importance. But I do think too many essay questions don't pay enough attention to the narrative. The story should be believable -- after all, it is meant to mirror real life.

Posted by: Matt Bodie | Nov 5, 2013 5:54:25 PM

Worst exam I ever had was an undergraduate art humanities course. The professor put up two slides---one of the Guggenheim museum in NYC, the other of the Parthenon. The question was "Compare and contrast." It was one of only three questions on the exam.

Definitely not my best grade in college . . .

Posted by: carissa | Nov 5, 2013 5:09:06 PM

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