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How to answer law exam questions
September 26, 2007, 8:00 am
Filed under: Law

I can’t believe this. I am opening a new section on my blog that deals with studying law. Use these notes at your own peril. Enjoy.

How to Write Law Exam Answers

Personal notes made with reference to Legal Reasoning And Legal Writing by Richard K. Neumann, Jr.

What a teacher looks for

  • Your understanding of how to use the rules
  • Your understanding of what the law is trying to accomplish with them

Two kinds of questions

  • Hypothetical situations
  • Response to issue/statement

Rubric of grading: what a teacher looks for when marking

  • Issue spotting
  • Knowledge of legal rules
  • Ability to analyse and solve a legal problem in depth

Reading hypotheticals

  • 1st read: See the big picture, read from beginning to end without using your pen.
  • 2nd read: Underline important things and make notes in margin.
  • 3rd read: Make a list on scratch paper all the issues present in the question, note relevant facts under each issue picked out.

Dealing with facts

  • Ask yourself why a fact is there.
  • 4 reasons why a particular fact is in the story

o   It creates or helps to create an issue because it is inconsistent with another fact or appears to be inconsistent with the law.

o   It helps to resolve an issue because it shows whether element(s) of the rule is satisfied.

o   It is a red herring.

o   It has no legal value and just helps to tell the story.

Dealing with the issues listed – make an outline

  • Look at issues individually
  • Write down what rules are necessary to resolve the issues
  • Decide the sequence in which the issues are to be discussed

Writing format for dealing with each issue

  • State the issue
  • State governing rules. Rule proof is usually not necessary.
  • Apply rules to the facts. Use additional rules as needed.

o   Show intellectual depth by explaining how your analysis is consistent with the policy behind the rules and including a counter-analysis.

  • State your conclusion.
  • Acronym: IRAC: Issue, Rule, Analysis/counter-analysis and Conclusion.

Important points

  • Explain reasoning fully. Explain why you are right and why some cases support your conclusion while other cases/rules are not used.
  • Red herrings can be to your benefit: point them out and show how they are irrelevant to the rules/issues.
  • Be explicit: teachers look for points and mark accordingly. Not showing = no points
  • Answer the question. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Don’t waste time writing on background matters unless it is required to answer the question.
  • Budget your time.
  • If you make an assumption, deal with it. Recognise the gap and show how it can be resolved.

30 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks so much! you’ve no idea how helpful that is! 😀

Comment by Sarah Miller

This is a great help. Liam onfrey will be landed with it! Cochyn fawr!

Comment by Josh Lewis

Please where about to start our examination on Law and I’ve being looking for how to answer a case in a law examination. Please I will be glad if you can sent it my E-mail address before 2nd July,2008. (

God bless.


Comment by Kate Morgan

Thankyou so much !!!!!!!! these tips are reallyyyy important and useful to get good marks …


Comment by Vandana

Thanks alot, for such highlightm ents on how to answer a case in law examinations. Such became a good starting to my understanding of questions and answers. Please send this great work if possible before 19/12/2008 to my email.

Comment by Ahmed Isah

I like you cos you are helping alot of people in thier law question. Thank you very much.

Comment by Bestfriend

it’s really great……..thanks

Comment by ivankirya

tried it and it worked thaks a lot…

Comment by buchi

I finally know the structure of how to answer a law question!Wish I knew this during my christmas exam!At least Ill have it for the summer one, only two weeks left eek!!

Comment by sinead mac curtain

thank u very much 4 ur concern. But is realy hard 2 know d topic a case falls under. Brief me about it. Thanks.

Comment by DESMOND

Thanx because, I have an insight. But I still find it difficult to different a fact from an issue. Help me expanciate these.

Comment by stella

Thanks a lot,u’ve helped me in more ways than one.

Comment by Kelechi

Thats great,its very helpful.Thanks

Comment by Benjamin

hanks alot, this has been of great help to me. I appriciate it.

Comment by Pauline

Thanks a lot.its really helpful

Comment by Amritha V. Shenoy

A concise approach. Thanks and please keep the flag flying still.


Comment by JOSEPH I. NWATU

Thank You Sir, I’ll be printing this to serve as my guideline as I go on the course, I hope I find this much earlier ^_^,

Comment by Xander

your tips are great.

Comment by .FAITH

This has really helped in my law of contract assignment. Thanx a million


you have made me explore more!!! I was in need of knowing that before my end of semester exams. thanx God bless you

Comment by Harold Philemon Harold

Thks for the site. If it had not being your site, it will be very difficult answering law question at the university.

Comment by Ken


Comment by Oyebayo Damilola

pls our exam comes up very soon, i need a technique on how to answer law question.

Comment by kalio

Please I am to start my exams in few weeks time, I don’t know if you can help with construction of how to apply implications in custumary law that would be mark catching cause my lecturer is just too selfish with marks!!!! Thanks.

Comment by kelvin

Now I see why my lecturers never give me what I feel I should get. For two years now I’ve been asnwering law questions correctly but without a rule or strategy. I believe things will change from this 3rd year, thanks!

Comment by Ell

Thanks sir for your valuable tips .

Comment by Ashfaquzzaman Chowdhury

This is an excellent guide to answering questions.


Comment by Jase Ayathorai

I relish this the entire information you furnished, i like to study law and to posses profound understanding of law. I’ll keep on perusing your informatoin for me to attain seldom knowledge daily

Comment by Selotole

I intend to apply these to my law exams which start in less than two weeks. . . . Really hope it works

Comment by somto

Just as Ell said . . For two years I’ve been answerin my own law exams without any rules of strategy and been wondering why my lecturers never give me the grades I deserve. . . Thank you sir for this piece

Comment by somto

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