Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Practice Makes Progress

Not perfect, progress. Because there is no such thing as perfect - only progress towards your goal.

Having said that, exam season is around the corner. If you are a first year student, this will be your first set of exams, and it's daunting and stressful. It's tempting to try to memorize every piece of your outline or re-read cases. Don't. Practice is what makes progress.

Do as many practice exams as possible. Redo your midterm if you had one. Do as many practice exams or hypotheticals as your professors have passed out. Ask for more if you don't have many. If your professor doesn't have, or won't distribute, past exams, look for other sources of practice exams. Typically your Academic Support person might have some, or there might be some in supplements. The point is to practice your writing. Yes, you need to know the law when you are taking an exam, but the most important thing you can do is put forth a thoughtful analysis, and that takes PRACTICE.

It will also be tempting to to make sure you have everything memorized, or organized, and then practice. Don't fall for this. Practicing hypos and exams will help you learn where your gaps are, and it will help you determine whether your notes and outline are working for you. I'd even suggesting doing practice hypos with notes, to help you better remember the law.

It is not enough to just read through a practice hypo, thinking about what you might write. It's also not enough to just read sample answers or rubrics and go "oh i would have written that." You have to practice actually writing it out! More than once!

I'm fairly excitable about this topic because every January I meet with students who didn't do so well in their first semester. And lo and behold, when discussing how they study, all of them confess that they either failed to do any practice hypos or exams, only did one, maybe two, or only outlined them, or looked at the answer.

This is the biggest piece of advice that I can give you right now; practice makes progress, and the more practice the better!

Good luck, and happy practicing!

(Melissa Hale)

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