Sunday, November 06, 2005

Torts Midterm

There were 60 multiple-choice questions, and two cases to read for which we had to write an outline. All this in a span of two and a half hours. I won't go into the particulars of the questions or cases (because I effectively had to sign a non-disclosure agreement just to take the test); but I'll discuss other things about it.

It was a very challenging test. I had prepared myself to take about a minute and a half on each multiple-choice question, giving me a good half hour to bubble in the answers on the Scantron sheet and review before going on to the issues. A quarter of the way in, I was already starting to fall behind in pace, and I hadn't even bubbled anything in yet! About halfway through and another quarter past that, I was still ahead, in that even if each of the remaining questions occupied me for the two minutes allotted by the professor, I would still have ten minutes left to bubble in the answers and review before going on to the issues.

But the last fifteen questions killed me, and I found myself with barely enough time to bubble in and review. I ended up with less than half an hour to do the issues. It took me some time to read the first case and write out the issue, so that I had maybe ten minutes left to read the last case and write the issue.

After the test, I hung out with some of my classmates. At least two classmates from my exam room (about a third of the class chose to write their issues by pen rather than by computer and were thus in another room) seemed seriously shaken. One seemed not to have even gotten to the second case.

Finally, a few of the stragglers, including myself, got to talk to the professor, whom I almost didn't recognize because he was unshaven and was wearing normal slacks with a button-up shirt unbuttoned and untucked, and a baseball cap. This is the first year that Loyola Law School students have had to take closed book exams, and also the first year that LLS mandated 5-unit semester classes (as opposed to 4-unit semester classes and year-long classes) to have a midterm, so professor Nockleby wanted to gauge our experience so he could prepare for next year's first-year torts class.

The general consensus among all the students was that it was a very challenging, but generally fair test, and almost everyone now wished that we had taken an essay-based exam instead, as it would have given us a better way to explain ourselves (there's obviously no partial credit in a multiple choice question). However, that would have been too much work for the professor to read 90 exams critically while having to teach and worry about his obligations to committees and publishers and what not, and he wouldn't have been able to get our tests back to us before the final, in effect defeating the purpose of an midterm exam, which is to get some feedback.

Unfortunately, even though we'll be getting our exams back by Thanksgiving, it doesn't seem we'll be able to compare our answers with the actual answers. Still, there was some feedback as we went through the questions as to which areas we needed to work on, as we had to rack our brains for any memory of the rules and argument techniques we had been learning.

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