Time and time again, law professors fall back on their past exams and time and time again it’s a gigantic headache for everyone involved. Writing exams is definitely a difficult task, but it’s also kind of the primary job of a 1L professor, so there shouldn’t be too much sympathy expended on a professor heading back to the well of past exam composition successes while blasting “Glory Days” in their office and thinking about all the issues they shoved into that spotter a couple of years back.

Well, it’s happened again and while the professor took relatively swift action, some are pointing out that there really is no way to fix an exam mess-up of this magnitude. This time, it’s Cornell Law School with a Con Law mix-up for the ages : My con law exam was a disaster. The professor recycled the exact same essay question he used last year. After he used it, he gave the rubric/ answer key to the students. Those students, now 2Ls, gave the rubric to certain members of my section. Because the exam is open note, they were able to have the rubric and essentially had the answer key to the exam. The professor invalidated the question, but this isn’t far enough. Many classmates are concerned these students were able to use their time advantage in other parts of the exam. Ie, they only spent 5 minutes on the essay versus 45 minutes like the rest of us because they had an answer key. Or, perhaps more accurately, “a Con Law mix-up for the semester” because this stuff happens over and over again. Most of the time, the proposed solution is to throw out the question, but that’s a harsh result for both the students who actually did ace it without the benefit of the rubric and, as the comment above clarifies, it does little to address the fact that some segment of the class was able to breeze through a difficult question in minutes and budget their brain time on other questions.

The only acceptable way to reuse an exam question is to […]

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