Type “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,” 500 times, fast

Yesterday, I typed about 5,000 words in 2.5 hours. That works out to about 33 words per minute. It’s not a very impressive speed in general. To get into upper-level journalism courses at The University of Texas at Austin, I had to pass a mandatory typing speed test (now repealed; I’m guessing they realized that “kids these days” all can type like maniacs) with 29 WPM. I had to take it twice to pass because I was so nervous about my entire future riding on my ability to type a paragraph about a bear in the woods. (It was traumatic enough that I still remember the gist of the nonsense paragraph that took up 2 whole minutes of my life, a decade ag0.) These days my pure typing speed averages 60 WPM; I’ve typed a lot since 2004.

Of course, my typing speed yesterday was slowed somewhat by the fact that I was typing an exam rather than someone else’s nonsense. My nonsense (or knowledge — semantics!) was all I had for this 3-hour Family Law exam, and I tried to spend every possible minute typing.

Not every exam is a race to see how fast your fingers can go, but this professor had made it clear that “more is more” in her course, and past exams, made available to us online, backed her up. The best past exams were 20 to 25 pages, and with an average double-spaced page containing 250 words (or so I’ve heard), I was just barely in the range, content-wise.

Now, I can hear you thinking, “So what? You typed a lot? Isn’t the content more important?”

My cat is very excited about my break, too. She is tired of batting at highlighters and Post-it flags.

Yes, it’s definitely, definitely important. But the exam hasn’t been graded yet, so I have nothing to go on but my gut and that word count, until grades come in late January. My hunch says I really knew this material; I missed a few things in the mad dash to type it all out, and probably lost my train of thought a few times, but I don’t think it was catastrophic.

Of course, I’ve been wrong before. The traditional law school exam format is not my forte. I prefer to have the time to think things over and create decent sentences. Alternatively, I like having a tight word limit so I know it’s not a matter of me vs. the person in the room who knows exactly as much as me but can type 60 WPM while thinking about complex legal issues.

It’s funny. I liked this class a lot. It was extremely informative and engaging, and touched on such a range of issues important to daily life, as well as legal life. I looked forward to each class, but I can’t help but feel immense relief that it’s over. That’s law school for me: I really like it in the moment (most moments!); but, added up, it’s often overwhelming.

A month’s vacation does feel like a fitting reward for reaching the halfway point in law school. Now, to give my fingers their well-earned respite …

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