Taking Law School Multiple Choice Exams

The typical law school multiple choice question consists of a paragraph-long hypothetical followed by four or five possible answers. For some students, this can be the trickiest section of a law school exam.

Before the Test

  • Practice! You can obtain multistate-type questions in the LRC reference room and the Academic Support Program office, or you can buy commercial sets of multiple choice questions and commercial flash cards. Build multiple choice practice into your study schedule.
  • Take each practice multiple choice question as though it were a mini-essay. IRAC the question and explain why the answer is "A" and why it is NOT "B," "C," or "D."
  • Write your own multiple choice questions. Have each member of your study group create a question for each topic you’ve covered in the class.
  • Take practice tests under timed conditions. Score your test and carefully review the correct answers: did you miss because you didn't know the law, or because you didn't understand the question and fell into a trap? Perhaps you often select the "second best" answer, one that is right, but not as good as, the best answer. Work hard at diagnosing your problem. Re-take the test.
  • Your professor’s questions may resemble commercial multiple-choice questions, or they may be quite idiosyncratic. In either case, review your class notes carefully to spot details and fine distinctions, because multiple choice exams usually test for this type of knowledge.
  • Commercial materials may be misleading if your professor does not write the typical multiple choice question, so find out what her questions are like: ask your academic success fellows for advice.

During the Test

  • Allocate time carefully before you start. Stick to your schedule. Make sure to leave plenty of time to fill in the scantron form at the end if you don’t do this as you go along.
  • Work systematically. Answer questions in sequence, and answer all questions; put a mark in the margin next to question if you’re really not sure and you want to revisit the question–-just don’t get confused and put your answers in the wrong spaces!
  • Read each question carefully. Try to answer the question before you look at the choices. Read each possible answer carefully. Don't rush to pick an answer.
  • This type of question tests your grasp of details: one word can make a difference.
  • Try diagramming complex fact patterns.
  • Guess after eliminating answers that are obviously incorrect (unless the professor deducts for wrong answers).
  • Beware of absolutes ("must," "always," "never").
  • Experts advise that you stick with your original answer once you’ve made a careful choice.
  • Often you can narrow the choice down to two possible answers, both of which are correct. Usually, you should pick the more specific answer as the "better" choice.
  • Also, if one correct answer is phrased in terms of facts and the other in terms of the law, the answer that tracks the legal test is likely the "better" answer.
  • In a question with five options like...
    1. a
    2. b
    3. c
    4. Both a and b
    5. All of the above
    Treat a, b and c as true/false questions. Then you may be able to rule out one or more of the combination answers.

Common Mistakes

  • Reading questions hastily.
  • Not attending to the call of the question.
  • Not reading all the possible answers but picking the first one that sounds plausible.
  • Leaping to conclusions based on what seems fair or what seems like common sense.

Questions?

Please email Kiyana Kiel, call (619) 260-6876 or stop by Warren Hall, Room 206.

Contact:

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Email Law Student Affairs

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