I'm sure everyone has a law school exam horror story. RawLaw tells us about hers here. Tell me about yours in the comments section.
I have two exam stories. My first comes from my last semester of law school, where I overstudied for Taxation of Business Entities. My brain would not allow me to analyze fact patterns I had deftly dealt with the day before. Thus, a very bad grade. Which was a real bummer because I had done well with the same professor in Business Planning and Corporations. My second story is also horrible, but at least it has a happening ending.
I was 2 hours and 40 minutes into my 3-hour con law exam when I realized that I was done. Smugly, I chuckled to myself, "I bet no one saw the hidden Ex parte Young issue. And who knows Chadha the way I do?" I went back through to embolden my subject headings and to proofread the answer. I refined a few rule statements and cited decisions. Ten minutes to go.
"Do I get up and leave, or look at it once more," I asked myself. "Sure, just read the facts once more, to make sure that you used all of them in your answer." I skimmed through them an saw an administrative regulation that I had not scratched out. (My exam method was to cross off every fact I used in the exam hypo, to make sure I incorporated every fact into my final answer). Gasp!
"Oh shoot, this regulation is screaming, 'preemption!'" I hurriedly typed everything I knew about preemption for the next ten minutes, and was sweating as the proctor called, "Time!"
That preemption issue I almost missed was worth 30 of 100 possible points. I would have received a 72 had I not stuck around for those last ten minutes.
I never left an exam - or any project - early after that. And I quit being cocky. Ten minutes separated me from a C- and the much better grade I received. Who can be arrogant when the big difference in the grades was determined by such a small amount of time? I think life is a lot like that. The difference between poverty and wealth might be one mere accident of birth. Or one bad choice. Or ten minutes pondering one decision.