It is usual that law students are given their first piece of coursework, which is very often problem based, without much guidance as to what is expected of them and how they are to tackle it. Students might be told to follow the same approach as in tutorials and to follow the marking criteria guidelines but this tends to be a fairly meaningless guidance to students new to higher education. For example one student commenting on essay ranking exercise said:
'Although frequently been told how to structure and present a problem type essay only by looking at, and working with, such answers have I properly grasped the basic concepts.'
Very often students find that on the return of their first courseworks their tutors have written all over the courseworks explaining why the students' approach is all wrong etc. Students then comment that if they had been given that sort of guidance in the first place they would have approached the answer differently.
The essay ranking exercise attempts to show students what is expected of them BEFORE they undertake their first coursework.