On the other hand, the term "secret" means something not generally available to the public. So, my headline may not be all that ethically compromised, after all. After all, I've also posted that some law students simply "get it". They intuitively understand what is expected of them at exam time. And they spend their semester focusing on "money" activities that will ultimately yield top grades. They avoid a lot of the lemming mindset that many law students have: "I have to do _____. Everyone else is doing it." So, if you define "secret" as something that might be intuitive but not generally understood, then I'm on safe ground. As they say, "common sense ain't so common."
In any event, the following are some ways to think about preparing for and writing your law school exams:
1. Write something that you would like to read. Imagine yourself as the professor, plowing through hundreds of exams. What can you do to (a) make your exam interesting; and (b) stand out from the crowd. A caveat: don't get cute and don't try to be funny. Stick to the task at hand and write in a professional, informative way.
2. Begin outlining as early in the semester as possible. This one should probably be first. As I describe in my book, Law School Labyrinth, the process of outlining is more important than the output. The purpose of outlining is to force you to organize your thoughts. Organizing your thoughts is a good way to master the material and enhance your ability to work with it.
3. Begin writing practice exams as early in the semester as possible. This one should probably be second. Okay, let's forget sequence. Just know that it's important. The benefit of practicing exams is twofold: first, you will get a feel for what exam questions look like and how to answer them. Second, if you refer to old, actual exams (on file in your library), you will get a good idea of testable material. There are only so many areas of a subject that can be tested. Reading practice exams will help you understand which ones are likely to be tested.
4. Write like a lawyer. Newflash: you are training to be a lawyer. Therefore, it is important that you learn to write like one. There are all kinds of materials out there that will helo you learn to do this. But the bottom line is that you need to write logically and in an organized fashion. But more importantly, you must show your work. You must identify all assumptions. You must analyze all scenarios presented by the facts and the law. This is where the classic "on the one hand/ on the other hand" analytical approach originates. You argue one side if the law (which will probably be at least a minority/ majority rule) and then you argue the other side. And you do the same thing with the factual issues (e.g. whether a car is a "dwelling place"). And this brings us full circle. In number one above, I suggest that you write what you would like to read. Imagine that you are an associate, assigned a project by a senior partner. Write her a legal memorandum. At least that's the goal of your exam answer. I understand you will be pressed for time. But avoid the tendency to metaphoically vomit all over the grader. Think first, develop an outline, and then write your exam.
Feel free to reach me through the contact form on this website, if I can help you as you approach exams.
Best wishes in your legal careerr.