Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Director of Student Affairs, Maurer School of Law
Job Summary: Works closely with faculty, staff, and students to enhance the personal and intellectual development of a diverse student body. Provides and manages the full spectrum of student activities and support within the law school. Works in a collaborative setting with other professionals in the Student Affairs, Career Development, Admissions, Budget, Alumni Relations, and Development offices. Counsels and advises students regarding their law school academic and extracurricular experience, including personal counseling matters that relate to academic progress. Recommends courses that will adequately prepare students for the bar exam and evaluates enrollment status, prerequisites, graduation requirements, and course load.
Qualifications: Review your qualifications prior to applying to ensure that you meet the minimum qualifications for the position. Resume and cover letter required.
Apply at http://www.indiana.edu/~uhrs/jobs/index.html. Applications accepted until June 7, 2012, or until position is filled.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
As the various bar review courses get under way, I wanted to list some of the common mistakes that I see graduates make in their bar preparation:
- Decide to save money and not take a bar review course.
- Coast the first few weeks and lose valuable time in their preparation.
- Look for shortcuts rather than smart strategies: shortcuts undermine learning while smart strategies increase learning.
- Lose their common sense: they do not evaluate what is or is not working in their studying and make adjustments as needed.
- Completely ignore studying for some portions of the bar exam because they are worth less in the weighting (examples: MPT or state evidence/procedure section).
- Go overboard on studying and exhaust themselves before they get to the exam itself.
- Avoid doing lots of practice questions because their percentages are low initially.
- Spend too much time on non-bar-preparation interests: going on a cruise, planning a wedding, remodeling a house, perfecting their abs, training for a marathon (all of these are real-life examples).
- Waste time on e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other electronic distractions.
- Work part-time or full-time while preparing for the bar.
- Focus on doom and gloom and convince themselves that they will fail so that they fulfill that prophesy.
- Lack a support group while they are studying for the bar: other bar studiers can encourage one another, answer questions, and keep each other accountable.
- Lose sleep, eat junk food, give up exercise, depend too much on sugar and caffeine: a healthy lifestyle is essential to successful bar preparation.
Best wishes to all of our graduates who are starting their bar exam preparation. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, May 25, 2012
At the end of the semester, students often ask me if they should begin their bar preparation prior to the official start date of their commercial bar review course. Little did they know, my answer to this question is quite lengthy. I do not have a simple response because every student has unique needs and varying circumstances.
Some students should get started studying for the bar exam directly after graduation because the earlier they get started, the easier bar prep will be for them during the summer. These students may have struggled with essays writing, IRAC format, memorization, or simply take longer than most to grasp the law. If they do know how to get started, they should discuss their needs with their commercial bar prep provider or their Academic Support team. Since most bar prep courses have online components (lectures, workshops, MBE practice etc.), it easy to begin studying before your scheduled course begins.
Some students finish law school feeling completely exhausted and totally drained. Unlike the students who need to begin bar study early, these students really need a break after graduation. Using the week or two interim between graduation and bar review to renew, recharge, and refresh is the best way for them to ensure success during their bar prep. Not everyone will be lucky enough to spend a week in an exotic destination or on the beach, but even taking a short break from their daily academic routine is just what the doctor ordered.
For both groups of students, it is a great time to get organized. They should create a positive study environment by clearing clutter and cleaning out their living space. They should buy a large paper desk calendar and add the classes for their summer bar review schedule and any essential items or events that they are unable to delegate or eliminate over the summer. Seeing what their life will look like on paper will help ease the shock.
While calendaring, it is easy for students to fall into the trap of filling every second with bar study. Instead, prior to bar review, I encourage students to think of a few ways to find respite from their upcoming, countless hours in the library. Joining a yoga class, carving out time for a date night, or sitting in the sun with friends for a few hours a week can be hugely beneficial. If students plan and calendar these breaks and treat them like a reward for their hard work, they are more likely to stave off distractions during their study time. While I am the first one to tell them that they need to devote 10+ hours a day to studying for the bar exam, I am also a huge proponent of finding balance. (Lisa Young)
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Director of Academic Success
GENERAL SUMMARY: Thomas Jefferson School of Law invites applications for the position of Director of Academic Success. The successful candidate will oversee the development of an innovative program to assist students in the transition to law school, to promote their successful completion of the J.D. program, and to work collaboratively with administration and faculty to provide them with a skill-set that will transition effectively into bar exam preparation. The school is seeking to build an innovative academic success program and we seek a Director who will be an enthusiastic addition to our academic success team. We seek to serve and retain a highly qualified and diverse student body, and the Director should have experience effectively educating a diverse student population. Ideally, the successful candidate will begin in July of 2012.
The Director of Academic Success will report to the Assistant Dean of Academic Success and Bar Preparation, and will work closely with other staff and faculty at the law school to develop a program that is fully integrated with the J.D. curriculum. The Director will develop, implement and manage programs to promote the academic success of students at the law school. The Director will coordinate, participate and facilitate individual and small group sessions to improve students' study, writing, time-management and test-taking skills. The Director will develop and conduct workshops on topics including class preparation, study habits, case briefing, outlining, and exam-taking. The Director will supervise the academic staff within the program, including working with the Legal Writing Specialist. The Director will also be responsible for hiring, training, and coordinating a peer-tutoring program. The successful candidate will be expected to exercise independence and judgment, drawing on past experience and careful analysis of the law school’s particular needs, in the creation of new programming. Additionally, the Director will be responsible for assessing the academic success program and making periodic reports to the administration and faculty on the program’s progress and outcomes. The Director of Academic Success also will represent the law school at and participate in outside conferences and other events organized for and/or by academic support professionals at other institutions.
ESSENTIAL DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
Collaborate with colleagues to identify, address and resolve student-learning issues.
Participate in program design and development activities to ensure high rates of student success, which includes curriculum design and teaching in a classroom setting.
Participate in the development and implementation of a Fall Orientation Program.
Assess student performance processes on all levels (e.g. individually, organizationally and academically) and develop programs that support sustained improvement of the student body.
Encourage and facilitate positive learning outcomes by working with students individually and in group settings, which includes but is not limited to teaching classes, holding individual conferences, working with faculty and administration, etc.
Work with the different emotional and social backgrounds that affect a diverse, adult learner population.
Supervise and support staff within the Academic Success Program.
Work with the Associate Director – Writing Specialist in the design of workshops to strengthen the students’ ability to perform case analysis, synthesize material, outline, and learn effective test taking strategies.
Perform individual academic advising as needed.
REQUIRED SKILLS, ABILITIES AND EXPERIENCE
The successful candidate must have:
J.D. from an A.B.A.-accredited law school and a record of academic and extracurricular success in law school;
Successful completion of a bar exam;
Three years of teaching experience in an educational (or similar) environment;
Superior written, oral and interpersonal communication skills, including experience making presentations to law school students;
Experience with curriculum design, including an understanding of educational learning theory, best practices in teaching pedagogy, and individual learning styles.
The ability to think imaginatively and critically about techniques to improve our law students’ academic development, and to design, implement and manage innovative programs to assist adult learners in reaching their academic potential;
The ability to work well with a diverse student body, including having a cultural awareness of different learning styles;
Strong teaching, interpersonal and counseling skills;
Ability to work collaboratively with faculty and staff;
Ability to manage multiple priorities under deadlines;
Managerial and supervisory experience;
The ability to handle highly sensitive matters with complete discretion; and
The ability to develop techniques to evaluate and measure the efficacy of academic support programs.
Work Schedule: 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday, weekends and evenings as needed.
Salary is commensurate with experience.
Women, members of minority groups and others whose background and experience will contribute to the diversity of our faculty and to our goal of multicultural competence in our academic program are encouraged to apply.
Interested candidates should send a resume, cover letter, and the names and contact information of three references, by June 15, 2012, to:
Professor Leah Christensen, Assistant Dean of Academic Support and Bar Preparation, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, 1155 Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please email Professor Leah Christensen with any questions about this position.
We just had our hooding ceremony this past weekend. Many of you are in the graduation mode as well. The celebrations are joyous - even though brief with the start of the bar review courses.
I talked with many students' parents, spouses, and children. Some for the first time. Others were family members that I have known for the three years. In many cases I knew stories about the family members even if I had never actually met them.
As I walked through the reception areas after the ceremony, I was once again struck by the isolation that law students often feel during law school even when they have lots of supportive family members. The isolation is caused by the fact that unless you have gone through law school yourself, you cannot fully understand what the law student is confronting.
Many of our students are not only the first lawyers in their families, but also the first family member to graduate from college, let alone a graduate school. They are trailblazers for all of the family members coming behind them.
They have achieved in their academics without their family members understanding the academic milieu. Some of them have had cultural expectations that they had to overcome as well - especially women students whose cultures expected them to get married at an early age and have children rather than go on in their education.
The disconnect with their families will continue for several more months. Non-attorney families expect their new graduates to act "normal" again and participate in all of the family events now that law school is over. They do not understand why one has to study for the bar when three years of law school were just completed. They do not understand the level of anxiety that attends sitting the exam and waiting for results.
We need to help our graduates as they maneuver their bar review to deal with any sense of isolation or disconnect from their families and support systems. Denise Riebe and Michael Schwartz's book, Pass the Bar!, has a short chapter on preparing your significant others. It is a useful resource for us and our students. (Amy Jarmon)
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Thanks to Jennifer Cooper at Thomas Jefferson for the mention on the ASP Listserv of a book review recently written by Tracy Turner, who is at Southwestern, regarding Dweck's book and using the mindset ideas in legal writing: Teaching Ourselves and Our Students to Embrace Challenge. (Amy Jarmon)
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Director of Academic Support & Bar Preparation
General Purpose of Position
The Director will support the overall academic mission of the law school by developing and implementing an academic support program that encourages a high level of academic performance for all students. The Director will work with the assistant dean of student affairs, in addition to the faculty and other departments, to design a comprehensive academic support program for all students. The director will have the ability to think creatively and critically to design and implement programs that are responsive to the school’s goals. In addition, the director is also responsible for maintaining statistical data and providing reports to faculty and administration regarding the academic support program, as well as bar passage.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
• The Director will design and implement an academic support curriculum, including workshops and programs. The curriculum will include an emphasis on developing analytical skills, writing skills, time management skills, and other skills that will assist law students in achieving a high level of academic performance for all first year students.
• The Director will identify students from the second and third year class for inclusion in additional academic support programs and develop strategies to effectively communicate with students about the benefits of participating in the program.
• The Director will be responsible for assessing the academic support program and making periodic reports to the administration and faculty on the program’s progress and outcomes.
• The Director will design and coordinate a program of academic advising for all students, including counseling on academic policies, upper class course selection, the intersection of academic and career planning, and related personal and academic development issues.
• The Director will be responsible for leading the design and implementation of a bar preparation program. This will include counseling students regarding bar admissions protocols, as well as identifying 3L students that are “at risk” for failing the bar and implementing a program for bar preparation.
• The Director will assist in analyzing bar exam results and developing programs to address weaknesses in student bar performance.
• Responsibilities may include teaching or assisting in the bar prep courses currently offered based on previous experience.
Posting available: https://elon.peopleadmin.com/postings/1106
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Hat tip to Jennifer Romig at Emory University for a link on the LRW Prof listserv for an article on using fixed-mindset feedback versus growth-mindset feedback with students who are struggling. The summary on several studies dealing with undergraduate math students can be found here: Be Careful When Comforting Struggling Students.
Also a hat tip to Myra Orlen at Western New England for information on an article about Dweck's work and how the mindsets apply to law student assessment:
"Carrie Sperling, Arizona State College of Law, has co-authored an article entitled "Fixing Students' Fixed Mindsets: Paving the Way for Meaningful Assessment." The article draws upon Carol Dweck's work and places that work directly in the law school context."
I have found Dweck's concepts helpful in working with my students. These extra resources are useful to anyone interested in learning more about the mindsets. (Amy Jarmon)
Monday, May 14, 2012
The Two Most Common Bar Exam “Confidence Traps” and How You Can Avoid Them
By Ronald D. Dees
Building and maintaining a healthy confidence level is an important component to overall bar exam preparation. There are typically two “Confidence Traps” that cause examinees to be at risk of performing poorly on the bar exam. Students can either be so paranoid about failing that they lose confidence and literally allow their fears to overwhelm them, or on the other end of the spectrum a student can be too confident and thereby underestimate the level of preparation necessary to be successful. By knowing the traits of students who typically fall victim to these “Confidence Traps,” you can evaluate your bar exam confidence level in order to avoid falling into the traps.
The most common confidence trap is the “paranoia trap.” This student is the one who allows his lack of confidence to overwhelm him. The causes of the lack of confidence can be many things. Perhaps the student performed somewhat poorly in law school, or for some reason just does not feel like he can handle the stress and difficulty of preparing for the bar exam.
The key to success for students who lack confidence for any reason is to develop a study plan designed to build confidence through self-assessment and feedback.
If you find yourself in this category, know that you are not alone and the best way to overcome these feelings is to construct a study plan that will help you build a healthy confidence level over time. Doing so will cause you to reach a point where you will know in your heart and mind that you are ready to perform well on exam day.
Many bar takers lack confidence and almost everyone feels overwhelmed by the volume of material they are presented with during bar preparation. Don’t allow such feelings to defeat you. First of all, you must remind yourself that no one gets every question correct or writes perfectly edited script on the bar exam. Secondly, everyone who has ever taken the bar exam felt like they could have used a few more days or weeks to prepare. No student can possibly know “all” of the law. However, if you prepare diligently, on exam day you should feel that you are as well prepared as anyone else in the room and are probably prepared better than most. That feeling itself is a great confidence booster.
Self-assessment and feedback are the keys to building a healthy level of confidence. Throughout your bar preparation, track your progress as you improve on your MBE test questions and take note as you succeed in memorizing more and more law. Write essays and turn them in to someone in your school’s Bar Services or Academic Support Program for review and feedback. If your school does not have such a program, find a professor who is willing to look at your essays and give you feedback.
Another facet of avoiding the paranoia trap is to make a study plan that you feel confident about. It should be one that you know will work for you based on your past success. Stick to your plan, work hard, and work smart. Identify the things you have done in the past that were not helpful or were detrimental to your studying or study habits, and eliminate those things. Constantly assess your plan and be willing to get rid of things that are not working and do more of the things that are working well for you. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have the best score on the bar exam, you just have to pass. However, you want to prepare like you are trying to earn an A, so that even if you have a bad day, you can still be confident that you are capable of scoring a C and passing the exam.
Not as common, but still worth discussing are those bar takers who fall into the “overconfidence trap.”
The student who may fall into this trap underestimates the difficulty, complexity, and demands of proper bar exam preparation. This student typically self identifies as very intelligent and falls into one of two personality types. She may have been either a top-of-the-class “Law Journal Type,” or she was what I refer to as the “Voluntary Under-Achiever.”
The key to success for both of the above types of students is to develop a healthy respect for the difficulty of the bar exam.
The Law Journal Type thinks to herself, “I am one of the top law students in my class, so passing the bar exam is not going to be a problem for me. I will study for it a little, but I am smart enough to pass the bar exam without much real effort. I mean, after all, it is just a test of minimal competency. No problem for a smart girl like me.”
The Voluntary Under-Achiever has trouble staying devoted to studying and typically does just enough to get by. She is smart and knows it. After all she was smart enough to make it through law school with average or above average grades while putting forth only moderate effort. She thinks to herself, “I am a smart girl and I pretty much skated through law school with no problem, so I can do the same on the bar exam. I’ll put in a few hours of study time here and there and maybe cram a little just before the exam, but I don’t need to study for hours and hours, day after day, week after week. I never had to study that way in college or law school and I still passed, so the bar exam should be no different.”
Both of the above types of students need to develop a healthy respect for the difficulty of the bar exam. If you fit into either of these personality types, you need to realize early on that the bar exam is a lot like law school finals, except that it is about five to ten times as difficult. You see, final exams in law school are usually tested over a two week period and you may even have some time to prepare between tests. Furthermore, you typically take four or five classes per semester, so you only have to prepare for four or five legal subjects. Also, many times one or two classes might be a “paper class” where turning in a paper is the final, and one or two classes might also have an open book exam. So, you actually only have to memorize the law for one to three subjects to prepare for finals.
On the bar exam, you will need to memorize the rules of law for 15 to 20 subject areas depending on what is tested in your state. Thus, it will take five to ten times as much work to prepare for the exam as it did to prepare for finals. If you spent three to four weeks preparing for finals, you would need thirty to forty weeks to prepare for the bar if preparing at the same pace that you used in law school. Now, obviously you don’t have that many weeks between graduation and the bar exam, so you are going to have to devote more time per day and per week to studying for the bar than you did in law school, even though you are really smart. Otherwise, you risk being poorly prepared and having an unsuccessful result on the exam.
Developing a healthy respect for the difficulty of the bar exam will help you avoid falling into the overconfidence trap and will motivate you to develop and stick to a study schedule that reflects the time commitment necessary to properly prepare.
In conclusion, the key to this success for all students is to balance a healthy respect for the difficulty of the bar exam with the confidence that comes from being well prepared on exam day. You can allow that healthy respect to motivate you to prepare properly, and in turn, knowing that you are well prepared will help you maintain your level of confidence, reduce stress, and improve your performance on exam day.
Friday, May 11, 2012
The following message from Kent Lollis gives you instructions if you were waitlisted for the conference:
I am happy to report that we have been able to accommodate everyone waitlisted for the June 13-16, 2012 Academic Assistance Training Workshop. Thank you for your patience. Please contact Dona Vinall, email@example.com 215-968-1227 ASAP to complete your travel reservations. If you have questions, please contact Yusuf Abdul-Kareem, firstname.lastname@example.org, 215.504.1488.
KENT D. LOLLIS
Executive Director for Diversity Inchiitiatives
Law School Admission Council
662 Penn Street Newtown, PA 18940-0040
P: 215.968.1227 ● F: 215.944.3227
Roger Williams University School of Law is currently hiring for two positions in its Academic Success Program. For more information or to apply, please visit: http://www.rwu.edu/about/university-offices/human-resources/employment.
Director of Academic Success: Reporting to the Assistant Dean of Students, the Director of Academic Success in the School of Law is responsible for delivering a comprehensive academic success and bar support program to instill in students the academic skills necessary to be successful in law school and in the legal profession. The Director works closely with other constituencies within the School of Law such as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the Coordinator of the Legal Writing Program, the Director of Diversity and Outreach, the Faculty Director of the Honors Program, as well as members of the Faculty.
Associate Director of Bar Support: Reporting to the Director of Academic Success, the Associate Director of Bar Support is responsible for enhancing the bar passage rates at the law school. This will be accomplished through the development, implementation, and evaluation of a comprehensive bar examination program. The Associate Director will be teaching a for-credit bar course.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Many law students are now in exams. It is sometimes hard to keep one's perspective in the midst of hard exams. Here are some pointers you can give students to help them stay focused and not be thrown by an exam that seemed too difficult:
- Help students realize that the grade in a course is just one grade on one set of questions on one day.
- A student has 90 credit hours (more or less at different law schools) in the degree, and one course is just a small part of that degree.
- It is not uncommon to know more information than a set of questions on an exam could ask in a limited time period.
- Lots of attorneys today are practicing in areas that were not their strong courses in law school – students can have another chance.
- Remind students that other students also thought a particular exam was hard.
- Students need to realize that they are like their fellow classmates in regard to an exam.
- A student needs to resist the temptation of feeling that s/he was the only one who found the exam difficult.
- Encourage students to forget about the exams they just had.
- The exam is over and done with, and the student cannot change anything about it.
- Have the student re-focus on the next exam because s/he can make decisions that will impact studying for that exam.
- Students can just do their best on each exam under their own particular circumstances. That is all they can ask of themselves.
- Remind them to avoid talking with others about an exam when it is over.
- They will only get more stressed about the exam.
- They will keep thinking about that exam instead of moving on to the next one.
- They should smile at the person who wants to talk and diplomatically say that they don’t talk about exams. Then they should walk away.
A student who is upset by an exam needs to take several hours off and do something unrelated to law school. If the student's exam schedule allows it, the student will probably benefit from taking the rest of the day off and getting a good night's sleep. A fresh start in the morning will be more beneficial than studies that are unproductive because of a lack of focus. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, May 4, 2012
An interesting issue was discussed on the ASP listserv recently. Carlota Toledo of Indiana-McKinney School of Law brought up the issue of declining law school enrollment and the impact this will have on ASP. I work with undergrads and in law school ASP; this issue is not an abstraction for me. I spend part of my day, everyday, working with undergraduates who are exploring legal education as a post-graduate option. As I have previously discussed, this is not something we can afford to ignore. Law school deans have already spoken out about the rising cost of running a law school, as well as the challenges of providing increasing levels of services to students. Because ASP professionals are more vulnerable to budget cuts due to less job security, this is an issue that all of us should be discussing and addressing in conferences. We cannot afford to stick out heads in the sand, or hope that it will be somebody else's problem.
Personally, I can attest to the significant drop-off in interest in law school among students with high LSAT's and UGPA's. These students have paid attention to the news, they read the blogs, and they have other options besides law school. An unprecedented number of them have told me they are changing their plans and either not going to law school at all, or they are taking a wait-and-see approach, where they explore other options (Teach for America, Peace Corp, internships abroad) until a legal education guarantees a substantial return on investment. My strong-but-not elite students are taking a different approach; they are only considering law schools that discount tuition by half or more. Many of them are willing to walk away from the idea of being a lawyer if it means more than 40 or 50k in debt from law school loans. These students are still going to law school in significant numbers, but they will not be generating much, if any, revenue for law schools.
Why is this relevant to ASP? The only group of students who are not reconsidering their plans to go to law school are the ones who have no other options. I have seen no decline in interest in law school among students with mediocre to poor UGPAs and LSATs. They cannot get a job in this economy, and many of them have substantial undergraduate loan debt that they cannot pay after graduation. A handful of these students will do very well in law school, because the reason for their lackluster academic performance thus far was due to events outside of their control (death in the family, health issues that have been resolved). The majority of these students are going to struggle in law school. Their sub-par academic performance was due to a sub-par work ethic and a lack of maturity. These students are going straight from undergrad to law school, without the time to grow into themselves and gain the maturity and insight that is necessary to compete in law school. ASP is going to be a lifeline for these students. They are the students most likely to reject help until they are in crisis, and they will be the most reluctant to accept that they need remedial support because they did not learn essential skills in college. ASP needs to plan for the arrival of these students and develop strategies for working with these students.
We are facing the unprecedented convergence of twin challenges: a decline in enrollment and accompanying decline in revenue, and an increased need for our services. (RCF)
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Dear Academic Assistance Professionals, Law School Admission Deans and Directors, and Minority Networkers:
This is a reminder that the priority deadline for registering for the 2012 LSAC Academic Assistance Training Workshop is May 7, 2012. Please remember that enrollment is limited. If there is space available after the initial registration period, there will be a lottery for open spots. The lottery will occur on May 9, 2012. If you have any questions about registration, please contact Yusuf Abdul-Kareem, email@example.com, 215-504-1488.
The Planning Committee has selected the following theme and sessions for this Workshop:
The Future is Now: Planning Today for the Next Twenty Years of Academic Assistance
• The Evolution and Future of Academic Assistance
• Who Are Our Students
• Establishing Learning Outcomes & Assessment Methods
• Planning Strategically for Tomorrow and Beyond
• Who We Will Be Serving - Future Demographics of the Students
• New Innovations in Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
• Reducing the Effects of Stereotype Threat and Other Barriers that Hinder Students from Diverse Backgrounds
• Evaluating and Diagnosing Student Performance
• Teaching Students to Become Better Learners
• Counseling Students on Academic and Non-Academic Issues
• Integrating Academic Assistance with the Casebook Classroom
• Developing a Classroom Outcome & Assessment Plan
• Developing an Institutional Outcome & Assessment Plan
• Developing Your Program’s Strategic Plan
• Implementing an Institutional Culture and Climate of Inclusion
• Where to Find AAP resources
• Supervising and Managing Your Staff
• Allocating Limited Resources for Solo & Small Staff Departments
• Everything You Want to Know About Scholarship and Didn’t Know to Ask
• Exploring the Life Cycle of AAP Professionals
Attached below is the link to registration information for the Workshop.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Here are ten things that can improve your performance as an exam taker. Each of these tips can boost your focus, organization, or time management:
- About a week before the exam, condense your outline for a course to 5 or 10 pages of the most important material. Learn that shorter version very well.
- Several days before the exam, condense that shorter version of your outline to a skeleton outline of headings and sub-headings (no more than the front and back of a sheet of paper for the entire course). Memorize that version. When the exam proctor says you may begin, write that checklist down on scrap paper and use it as a guide as you answer the exam questions.
- For essay exams: Once the proctor says that you may begin the exam, make a time chart for yourself on scrap paper so that you can stay on track within the exam time allowed. For each essay question, allot yourself 1/3 of the question time for reading, analyzing and organizing your answer. Allot yourself 2/3 of the question time for writing the answer. Thus, for a one-hour exam question, you will use 20 minutes for the first steps and 40 minutes for writing. If you begin the question at 1:00 p.m., you will finish your first steps at 1:20 p.m. and begin writing; you will end writing at 2:00 p.m.
- For multiple-choice or true-false exams: Once the proctor says that you may begin the exam, make a time chart for yourself on scrap paper so that you can stay on track within the exam time allowed. Allot yourself checkpoint times for the number of questions that you should have completed. For example, if I must complete 60 questions in two hours, I might set up six checkpoints. If the exam starts at 1:00 p.m., I should have completed 10 questions at 1:20 p.m., 20 questions by 1:40 p.m., 30 questions by 2:00 p.m., 40 questions by 2:20 p.m., 50 questions by 2:40 p.m., and all 60 questions by 3:00 p.m.
- If you want review time in your time chart to go back over the exam, you will need to reserve review time out of the total exam time. You will then distribute the remaining time in the exam accordingly within the essay or multiple-choice chart for the exam. If you have a three-hour exam and want to reserve 30 minutes to go back over your answers, you will distribute 2 1/2 hours among the actual time to work on the exam questions as indicated in the last two bullet points.
- You will be better prepared for your exams if you do as many practice questions as possible during your studying. Choose practice questions of the type that your professor will have on the exam. Increase the difficulty in the questions as you approach the exam day.
- When you do practice questions for essay exams during the time leading up to the exam, complete at least some of the questions under timed conditions. Treat them just like the real exam questions. Read, analyze, and organize; then write. Practice your timing formula.
- When you do practice questions for multiple-choice or true-false exams during the time leading up to the exam, complete under timed conditions at one sitting at least half the number of questions you expect on the exam. Practice your timing checkpoints and pace during the questions.
- Open-book exams are a trap. You will not have time to look everything up. You need to study for the exam basically as if it were a closed-book exam so that you are confident with the material. Any items that your professor will allow you to have during the exam should be strategically used within the guidelines that you were given. Know exactly what your professor defines as accessible during an open-book exam; you do not want to make a mistake under the honor code for your law school.
- Get a good night's sleep for several inghts before an exam. You want to be awake and alert during the exam. Staying up for extra long hours the night before will not help. And you might oversleep! Eat a nutritious meal before the exam to give your brain cells fuel. If possible with your exam schedule, take two or three hours off after an exam to relax before going back to studying.
All the best wishes to law students getting ready for their exams. Take one day at a time and do the best you can each day. Then just move on to the next study day and next exam. You cannot fix what has already passed, but you can control what is ahead of you. (Amy Jarmon)