Over at CALI's Pre-Law Blog, Austin Groothius has a post you should read, if for no other reason than the title. His post discusses my recent comments on another student blog post at The Legal Scoop entitled "Typing Your Way to an 'A.' " I have a few more thoughts on both the Legal Scoop post and Pre-Law Blog post, which I set forth here.
First, here's what I said in my recent post:
[The Legal Scoop's recent post, "Typing Your Way to an 'A,' "] discusses the importance of typing to law school success. I'd add that a long exam answer is no guarantee of a good answer if you do not know what you are doing, but it may help avoid a complete meltdown if you can at least randomly hit important points. If you know what you are doing, however, being able to flesh out your answer in great detail certainly does help.
What Pre-Law Blog Says: Groothius agrees with the Legal Scoop post, and says that "arguing that a law student should even consider hand-writing an exam over typing when typing is an option is a silly argument unless that individual student is a poor typer. . . . [S]ubconciously, professors prefer typed exams to handwritten."
What I Think: When text is neat and easy to read (whether hand written or typed), that does ease the professor's burden. And it's also perhaps true that text in print looks "smarter" or more professional than handwritten text, which I suppose helps on some level. By way of analogy, I will say that I always think my law review articles look a lot smarter in their final, formatted form than they do in ordinary MS Word format or on Lexis or Westlaw. So in that sense, I agree with Groothius.
Yet in my experience, some people write better by hand than by typing. And by "write," I really mean "effectively present their thoughts." Are you the kind of person who processes what you think better on paper, or on a computer screen? That's an important question to ask yourself. Try taking some sample exams by computer and others by hand writing your answers. Does one feel more natural or comfortable to you? If one way seems clearly better to you, then use that approach.
I tell my students that they should take exams however they are most comfortable doing it--either writing or typing. As much as I like the legibility of typed exams, that should not trump the important considerations of comfort and effectiveness of presentation and organization of your answers.
It's also worth pointing out that in the last several semesters, grades for people who have typed their exams in my (anonymously graded) classes have been virtually identical to grades for people who have hand written their exams. The point, I suppose, is that typing is not a guaranteed way to a better grade.
What Pre-Law Blog Says: Groothius suggests that if you are a bad typist, then you should consider taking a typing course of some sort.
What I Think: I absolutely agree. Even if you hand write your exams in law school, some day you hope to practice law or do something else in the professional world. Which will entail typing. And the faster you are, the better off you are.