For the first time, all second-year students will take diagnostic exams to measure their knowledge retained from core courses and gauge essay writing in preparation for the bar exam.
The exam will produce individual reports for each student, and also report on groups that will show student performance by subject matter and skills. While students will learn of their own strengths and weaknesses for the test, the data will also help the school identify appropriate coursework for the student, track individual progress and develop and direct academic support resources.
“These are not graded tests,” emphasized Penelope (Penny) Andrews, President & Dean of Albany Law School. “The student will receive an objective evaluation from a bar-exam specialist more than a year before taking the exam. This is a new approach and we think it will benefit all students, alleviate a good portion of the stress associated with the exam, as well as benefit the school’s cumulative performance.”
The exam is administered jointly by Kaplan/PMBR Bar Review and Albany Law School under the supervision of Professor Jill Dunn. Professor Dunn is a former Assistant Examiner for the New York State Board of Law Examiners, where she wrote New York multiple choice questions, graded New York and MPT essays and reviewed draft questions for comment to the Board to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
The four-hour exam—two two-hour sections with a 45-minute break between components—will measure each student’s substantive knowledge across criminal, constitutional law, contracts and property, while assessing both essay writing and multiple choice testing skills. The analysis will offer students a deeper understanding of the reasons behind their score and how to improve performance in future exam opportunities, and specifically the bar exam.
The cumulative diagnostic report will provide valuable data to the faculty, the curriculum committee and the administration in assessing subject matter coverage in core and upper level courses, prerequisite and graduation requirements, and academic support resources. The analysis highlights specific tendencies, traps, errors, and omissions that may have caused an incorrect answer, which the student can then address with faculty members.