General tactic: Often in Civ Pro exams, your prof will state the procedural facts of a lawsuit, then tell you that the judge reached a particular ruling on a particular procedural issue. You are then asked to say whether the ruling was correct, and why. A good general tip is that if you're in doubt, try very hard to find a reason why the judge was wrong. Mistakes by judges simply tend to make better exam questions than correct rulings by judges, so you should be biased in favor of the view that the judge was wrong.
In any fact pattern involving the starting of a lawsuit or the service of process, you must of course be alert to issues of jurisdiction over the parties. Here are some particular things to check for:
* Key distinction: At the very beginning of your analysis of personal jurisdiction, always check whether P's claim derives from D's in-state activities.
+ Specific jurisdiction: If it does derive from in-state activities, then the forum state court needs to have only “specific jurisdiction” over D, and it's enough for this that D has minimum contacts with the forum state. (For more about minimum contacts, see p. 157.)