Category: Taking Multiple Choice Exams
Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Recognizing Distracters and Foils
The entire section
s basedon Michael Josepheson, Evaluation and Grading in Law School, AALSSection on Teaching (1984).
- Wrong options are called distracters or foils
- Distracter is something which compellingly and confusingly attracts inthe wrong direction.
- Foil is something which services to set off another thing to advantageor disadvantage by contrasting with it.
- Game is played this way:
- Test knowledge and reasoning
- can't be obvious
- cant' use tricky devices or puzzling language
- uses distracters and foils
- All the options are given a look of superficial plausibility. Must readcarefully.
Incomplete definitions andarguments
- No: Murder is the unjustified killing of a human being.
- Yes: Murder is the unjustified killing of a human being with maliceor forethought.
- Don't complete the definition or argument in your mind and conclude thatit is correct.
Deal with the facts
Don't ignore facts!
- Assume that you have been taught that an intoxicated person is not capableof driving her car in a reasonable manner. The root say that after Marydrank two quarts of whiskey, she was driving her car in a reasonable mannerwhen she collided with Paul. Was Mary Negligent!
- No: Negligence is unreasonable conduct, since you were told that shewas driving her car in a reasonable manner, you must conclude that shewas not negligent.
- Wrong options are often based on common errors made by law students:
- Misunderstanding about the significance of legal expressions
- Plaintiff goes to sleep in the middle of the road and is struck by defendantwho sees her in time but fails to take reasonable steps to avoid strikingher.
- Defendant wins because plaintiff had the "last clear chance"
- No: Doctrine of "Last Clear Chance" Applies only to plaintiff
Overlooking the obvious
- Sometime the option is so obviously correct that there is no rational excusefor missing it.
- ignore meaningless garbage: Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
- after which, therefore because of which
- name given to the error in reasoning
- It always rains after I wash my car, so washing my car makes it rain.
- Double talk
- a plaintiff could not be the holder of a certain easement because "an incorporealhereditament lies only in grant"
- Doctrine or Rule never heard of = probably incorrect
- may use familiar concepts in non traditional words
- Instead of saying: "John owed Mary a duty of reasonable care only if hecreated a foreseeable risk to her.
- May say: John had no obligation to Mary unless it appeared that John'sconduct would injure her.
- Remember substance is more important than form.