Academic Achievement Program

The Academic Achievement Program (AAP) helps students to develop analytical and examination skills for law school success. The program is a collaborative effort among the University of Miami School of Law administration, faculty, and students.

Below are several basic components of AAP. Please review and students are encouraged to contact a AAP team member  with any additional questions about academic support.

Tips for Law School Success

Below are general recommendations generated by Academic Achievement Program Dean's Fellows. These are suggestions and strategies and not "mandates."

Each student’s path to success will vary and will require introspective thought about best practices for learning and time management. We strongly encourage students to attend the Friday 1L Exam Series to learn more about exam preparation strategies.

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  • Attend Dean’s Fellows Study Groups

    Attend Dean’s Fellows Study Groups

    • Be sure to attend weekly Dean’s Fellows Study Groups.
    • If you’re in a personal study group with friends, below are additional tips.
      • Take practice exams with a study group, and write out your responses to discuss.
      • Give the group 15 minutes to read and outline a response to a hypo and then talk about your analysis.
      • Reserve study rooms at the law library or the undergrad library and set time limits and goals for group study sessions.
      • Talk through your outlines in your study group(s) and make sure everyone understands the main concepts.
      • Use flash cards to quiz each other on rules and concepts.

  • Notetaking


    • Capture your professor’s voice.
    • During class, write down questions that your professor asks during class.
    • During class, write down hypos and examples during class.
    • During class, write down any summary or overview by your professor.
    • After class, incorporate rules and concepts from your case brief into your notes.
    • After class, review your notes to ensure that you understand concepts.
    • After class, revise your notes to emphasize important concepts.
    • Keep your notes dates and organized separately from your case briefs. 

  • Outlining


    • Organize you lecture notes, case briefs, examples, hypos, and other helpful resources in a way that helps you to understand topics covered in your course.
    • Organize your outline around rules and not cases.
    • Create your own outline that helps to answer an issue spotter essay exam.
    • Work on updating your outline throughout the semester.
    • Finalize your outline by the end of the Reading Period.
    • Create an “attack” outline that covers the major concepts covered during class. An attack outline is a condensed version of your outline (2-3 pages) that uses a checklist or analytical framework to answer an issue spotter essay.

  • Memorize Main Concepts and Practice Exams

    Memorize Main Concepts and Practice Exams

    • Create flashcards and self-quiz on a weekly basis.
    • Memorize rule statements from your outline.
    • For open book exams, many students find issue-spotting worksheets and other types of check lists to be helpful.
    • Many professors have old exams or practice exams on file at the circulation desk of the law library. Check them out and copy them. Be sure to write out or type your answer to the exam using a structured format (e.g., IRAC) – don’t just talk through the issues in your head or out loud. You’ll get much more out of practice exams if you practice them by treating them like a real exam.
    • Prior to a student’s first exam, it may be useful to sit for a full three or four-hour practice exam to know what to expect from such a long exam. Think about how to manage time and the order in which one would do the exam components.
    • Mimic exam conditions when taking practice exams.
    • For open book exams, memorize major concepts, but also spend time making one’s outline user-friendly: Tabbing, highlighting, color-coding, cross-referencing to other sections and textbook page numbers.

  • Practice Self-Care

    Practice Self-Care

    Treat exam-prep and the exam period as a “marathon" and not a "sprint." Be sure to take one day at a time. Remember, thousands of students have gone through this experience for hundreds of years. so please take care of yourself and be as prepared as possible.

    • Take breaks (a movie or quiet dinner after an exam) but then be prepared to get back into studying for the next exam.
    • Get enough sleep, take your vitamins, eat well, exercise and generally take the time to keep one’s immune system strong.
    • If a student is really ill and feels they cannot sit for the exam, contact the Dean of Students' office (305-284-4551) BEFORE exam time.
    • Know that USUALLY one cannot make up a missed exam until the course is offered again. So stay healthy.

  • Prepare for Exam Day

    Prepare for Exam Day

    • Familiarize yourself with the exam classroom and dress appropriately—bring a sweatshirt, in case it's cold, but wear a t-shirt underneath.
    • Prepare for any contingency on exam day (dead battery in car, rainstorm, no parking spaces, etc.) and have a good back up plan. Contact the Dean of Students if there is an emergency.
    • Don’t discuss or "de-brief on the Bricks" after the exam. You can’t change your answer so focus on your next exam.
    • Consider wearing earplugs. 
    • Write down important numbers such as your C-number and AGN. It’s also helpful to know the number to the registrar’s office.
    • Complete the practice test for Exam4 as this will help you become familiar with the software prior to exam day.
    • The night before (or morning of) the exam, check for any updates to the Exam4 software.
    • Click on the following link for more details regarding exam day procedure.
    • Gather your testing materials the night before the exam and arrive 20-30 minutes early. It’s better to be too early than too late.
    • Stick to your normal routine, and don’t do anything out of the ordinary (e.g., drink a large cup of coffee if you don’t drink coffee).
    • Don’t stay up late cramming the night before an exam. Get some sleep, eat healthy, and stay hydrated because unhealthy habits may lead to you getting sick or feeling lethargic on exam day.
    • Create a final exams schedule to stay on task, and after completing an exam, take some time to decompress before the next one.

  • Have an Exam Strategy and Execute

    Have an Exam Strategy and Execute

    • Carefully read your test directions.
    • Stick to the recommended time for each question.
    • Don’t start typing right away. Give yourself time to read the call of the question, outline, and organize your answer. This includes making a checklist of issues and identifying key fact.
    • Be sure to answer the question that is ASKED.
    • First answer questions worth the most points, if possible.
    • Look over the entire exam before starting, so that you don’t overlook any questions.
    • Don't assume anything.
    • Use 'because" to connect facts with law and explain why.
    • Analyze both sides of all issues to maximize points.
    • Abbreviate names/concepts when appropriate. At the beginning, be sure to "clue-in" the reader with an explanation of abbreviations.
    • If necessary, take a small break -- walk outside for a breath of air, to use the restroom or get some water.
    • Don’t leave early. What’s the rush? Review your answer for issues, correct rules states, and additional facts to bolster your arguments/counterarguments.  
    • For more tips on exam day strategies, read Law School Exams: A Guide to Better Grades by Alex Schimel.

Detailed Advice for Taking Exams from a Miami Law Professor


The AAP presents various workshops and seminars throughout the year to help students succeed in law school.

Pay attention to your email for details about dates and times.

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Bar Preparation Programs and Resouces

The University of Miami School of Law is committed to our students' success on the bar exam. The AAP coordinates and presents a variety of programs to help students prepare for this difficult exam. 


  • Bar Week: A series of panels, workshops, and informational sessions about bar exam logistics, preparation, courses and application issues. 
  • Bar Boot Camp: An exclusive supplemental bar preparation program for University of Miami School of Law graduates. You will have access to videos and handouts to help you navigate the various stages of bar prep. This includes supplemental essay and MBE practice.
  • Bar Coaching: After graduation, Miami Law graduates have the opportunity to work individually with a "bar coach", who will provide personalized guidance throughout the bar study process.

Contact the AAP for more information


Bar Admission Overview

Learn more about:

  • The bar application process
  • Exam preparation
  • Study guides
  • Bar study loans & more

See the Overview


Beginning in the Fall 2023 term, Miami Law has partnered with BARBRI to offer J.D. students comprehensive resources throughout law school and for their preparation for the bar exam.

Contact the AAP for more information

Bar Related Points of Contact at Miami Law

Student inquiries should be directed as follows:

  • Questions related to the bar application, including the character and fitness process, as well as amendments to the School of Law application, should be directed to Madeline Raine, Assistant Director of Student Life.
  • Questions related to the bar examination should be directed to Steven Maxwell, the Director of the Academic Achievement Program.
  • Questions related to the MPRE should be directed to Professor Jessi Tamayo or your Professional Responsibility professor.

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Dean's Fellows Study Groups

Dean's Fellow Study Groups offer first-year students a chance to participate in a weekly study group for a specific class, and the group is facilitated by a Dean's Fellow — an upper-level (2L or 3L) student who excelled academically in that class.

Benefits/Features of the Dean's Fellow Program

  • Dean's Fellows are trained to use interactive learning exercises geared toward different learning styles.
  • The Dean's Fellow works with the professor, attends all classes, and facilitates two separate weekly study group sessions.
  • These groups allow students to become acclimated to the study of law and to interact with their fellow students in a relaxed atmosphere.

Becoming a Dean’s Fellow

Dean's Fellows are assigned to specific classes and work closely with the professor to help facilitate the 1L's independent learning, by focusing on learning strategies, organization skills, time management and exam preparation for that class.

The application period will be announced via email. Dean's Fellow Application Note: Please make sure to attach your resume and law school transcript to your completed application. If you have any questions, please contact Lourdes (Lulu) Rodriguez, at 305-284-0112 or

Dean's Fellow Schedule

Learn more about how to become a Dean's Fellow.

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Writing Dean's Fellows

Writing Dean’s Fellows (WDF) are available for online appointments, during the semester, Monday – Friday.

If you wish to schedule a meeting with a WDF, please contact Lourdes (Lulu) Rodriguez, at 305-284-0112 or

After determining the nature of your request, you will be assigned a WDF. However, prior to scheduling a meeting, please be sure that you’ve already incorporated any feedback from your L-Comm professor.

Also, please note that WDF do not provide line edits or track changes to writing samples, and you must disclose the degree to which others may have been involved in reviewing the writing sample in your cover page.

For more information on writing samples, please click on the following link OCPD Writing Sample Guide. Please click on the following link for more information on WDF Policies and Procedures.

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Midterm and Final Exam Review

Once midterm practice exams have been completed, students should have a clearer understanding of what to expect on final examinations.

The Academic Achievement Program can help students understand immediate steps to take in order to learn from your midterm practice exam experience and to better prepare for your final examinations.

Even before receiving feedback on midterm practice exams, students may take immediate steps in order to learn from your midterm practice exam experience and to better prepare for your final examinations.

Steps to Take

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  • 1. Attend Dean's Fellow Study Groups

    Attend Dean's Fellow Study Groups

    For students who have been regularly attending their Dean's Fellow Study Groups, continue attending. All weekly sessions have been carefully planned to systematically help develop the necessary foundation on which to build the skills that will assist in successfully completing law school examinations.

    For those who have not regularly attended, the Academic Achievement Program strongly urges to begin attending now, and to regularly participate for the remainder of the semester. Dean's Fellows will soon begin the formal exam preparation sessions, which will continue until the Academic Achievement Program Dean's Fellow Study Groups end this semester.

    Those upcoming sessions provide several opportunities for students to work through sample hypothetical exam questions and will include lessons on careful reading of exam questions, organizing exam answers and writing out practice exams.

  • 2. Schedule an Appointment with a Writing Dean's Fellows

    Schedule an Appointment with a Writing Dean's Fellows

    Good legal writing is nothing more than well-written good legal analysis and Law School essay examinations require competence in conveying analysis and conclusions in clear, concise written form. Students who seek assistance with practice and development of writing skills can schedule an appointment with a Writing Dean's Fellow, who can provide general assistance with organization, structure, style, grammar and composition.

    In addition, students may, on their own initiative, obtain copies of practice exams at the Law Library Circulation Desk. After completing written answers to those exams, they may bring them to a Writing Dean's Fellow who will review students' written answers and provide feedback on the written product. Writing Dean's Fellows will neither review nor comment on issues of substantive law, but will provide assistance with organization, structure and composition. If you have questions regarding substance, then you should check with your professor or Dean’s Fellow.

  • 3. Attend Class and Pay Attention to Practice Exam Feedback

    Attend Class and Pay Attention to Practice Exam Feedback

    All students should regularly attend all classes, be well-prepared for class, take notes and participate in class discussions. Also, faculty members will provide some form of written, individualized feedback on practice exams.

    They may also offer sample or model answers, "grades" (which do not count in determining your final course grade) and review sessions following the midterm exam. Some may also schedule appointments with students to go over the exam.

    In reviewing your exams with your professors, try to identify your strengths and weaknesses in the following areas:

    • Did you organize your answer in a structured and logical manner?
    • Did you spot the relevant issues?
    • Did you allocate appropriate time in discussing relevant issues?
    • Did you state the applicable rules of law and their elements?
    • Did you use “because” to connect fact and law in your analysis?
    • Did you provide counterarguments/rebuttals where applicable?
    • Did you avoid giving conclusory responses?
    • Did you answer the call of the question?
    • Did you follow your professor’s suggested time for each question?

  • 4. Understand Exam Grades

    Understand Exam Grades

    Reviewing an exam in a course where a grade was not as high as expected can help improve performance in the next set of exams. Your answer(s) should be available to review soon after the grade is posted. Typically that should be a week or at most two. Remember, though, that it may take longer for a faculty member to have a sample or model answer prepared and that often there's really very little to be gained just by re-reading your answer(s) if the professor is going to prepare a model answer.

    Not all problems are exam-related, but one may find out that there are aspects of how exam-writing was approached that undermined the ability to communicate fully what had been learned.

    Just re-reading answers, in conjunction with the exam, may give some insight into problems with the way an exam was written. A few faculty members write comments on exams, which are worth reading. (Most faculty members do not write comments, since it could delay getting the grades in and there are many students who don't review their exams.)

    • If the faculty member has made a model or sample answer available, a student should read it in conjunction with their own answer.
    • If the faculty member has scheduled a session to go over the exam, attend it.
    • If the faculty member is available to go over an individual’s exam, take advantage of that opportunity.
    • Try to learn whether the deficiencies in an exam answer were as a result of organization, analysis of legal issues (and/or being too conclusory), issue-spotting, knowledge of substantive law, writing (including grammar and punctuation.) This information is important as one tries to improve your skills.

  • 5. Know What to Not Expect When Reviewing an Exam

    Know What to Not Expect When Reviewing an Exam

    A grade change: Law School policy forbids changing grades in exam courses once they've been submitted to the Registrar, except in the rare instance where an "arithmetic or transmitting error is discovered" or where cheating is discovered, as the Law School Handbook sets out. The instructor must contact the Associate Dean to support the basis for the change of grade in those rare instances where there is a basis for a change of grade and the final authority rests with the Associate Dean.

    Information on whether any required grade distribution was followed: There is a grade distribution for the first-year and for upper-level adjunct courses and seminars. There is no need for any student to check a faculty member's compliance with the curve. The Registrar carefully checks grades against any required curve, and does not post them on CaneLink until the grades are in conformance with the curve.

    Unlimited access to information about how a professor arrived at an exam grade: There are some things that are reasonable to expect and others are not.

  • 6. Review an Exam in a Timely Manner

    Review an Exam in a Timely Manner

    Don't wait beyond the end of the Spring semester to review Fall semester exams (and don't wait beyond the end of the next Fall semester to review Spring or Summer exams). While there is no rule forbidding one from waiting longer than that, remember that the whole purpose is to improve performance on the next round of exams. Finally, even if an arithmetic or transmitting error were discovered, the Handbook provides that any resulting grade change could be made no later than the end of the semester following the semester in which the exam was given.

    While a number of faculty members are available over the summer to review spring exams, students should be aware that not all faculty will be around during the summer. Others have intense summer teaching schedules or research projects that may make meetings difficult over the summer. Keep in mind while a student should be able to examine their answer(s) during the summer, faculty who have not been able to meet with students over the summer about spring semester exams will typically be available in the Fall to do so.

    Once again, for any questions about when faculty members will be available to meet, the best way to find out is to ask the faculty member or their assistant.

    The Dean of Students is always available for advice and guidance on academic performance. However, the Dean of Students does not have authority to change grades nor is there a formal appeal process.

  • 7. Meet with Faculty to Review an Exam

    Meet with Faculty to Review an Exam

    As grades are posted on the CaneLink system, students may find themselves confused about some grades and wish to go over some of examinations with the faculty members who taught the courses.

    The Student Handbook provides that students have a right to examine their essay examination papers, if they so request within a semester of the completion of the examination. While faculty members are not required to meet individually with students, most are available for such appointments.

    However, consider that faculty members are not required to schedule appointments immediately, and may set out a block of times when they will be available. In the spring semester, when students seek to go over fall exams, many faculty are not immediately available for appointments.

    Getting a model or sample answer typed up and proofed may take up to a few weeks. In addition, right after they hand in grades in one class, faculty members may be focusing on current classes or finishing grading exams in another course, or they may have other things they have put off while grading that they have to attend to first.

    Ordinarily, faculty who are scheduling appointments would begin doing so within a month of the posting of grades, and some would be available earlier.

    Be aware, however, that faculty may impose conditions on exam review:

    • They may, for security reasons, provide a photocopy of an examination paper rather than the original, require a student sign the bluebooks out, or require a student examine the exam under the supervision of their assistant, rather than taking it away.
    • In some cases faculty members maintain banks of examination questions, and thus may impose limitations on the circulation of the exam itself.
    • In order to ensure a more productive meeting, faculty members may impose such conditions as requiring that students read a model or sample answer before meeting with the faculty member.

    A student may:

    • Ask a faculty member to re-check the addition if the student is concerned that there might have been an arithmetic error.
    • Ask a faculty member to confirm that there was no error in transmission (i.e., that the final grade given is in fact the grade recorded in CaneLink);
    • Ask a faculty member to let them know whether there were other factors that affected a grade, and how (e.g., class participation; written exercises; excessive absences).

    A student may not:

    • Expect the faculty member to engage in a discussion of how their performance compared to another student's exam.
    • Insist on access to grading or point sheets.
    • Insist on knowing point cut-offs for particular grades.

    For questions about the procedures and policies that faculty members have, the best way to find out is to ask the faculty member or their assistant.

    Students will need to make sure you comply with those procedures, as faculty members have sound reasons for developing the exam review procedures they have in place.

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Academic Oversight

Academic Oversight is designed to help students achieve their maximum academic potential. Students on Academic Oversight are assigned an Academic Advisor from the Academic Achievement Program (AAP).

The AAP at Miami Law has been especially created to provide assistance and resources to students seeking to improve their academic performance.

Learn more about Academic Oversight

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