Monday, April 30, 2012

Advice from students on acing law school exams

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog asked several top, upper class students what advice they would give 1Ls for doing well on their final exams.  Here are some of the responses:

On Crushing Your First-Year Exams: Advice From Some Who Did

Specifically, we asked the students to finish the following sentence:

The smartest thing I did while preparing for my 1L first-semester exams was ______.

Of course, some of these responses might strike you as obvious, others as insightful, others a combination of both. We allowed folks to give names or submit anonymously if they so chose.

In no particular order, here are a cross-section of responses:

Rogan Nunn, 3L at UVA and an editor on the Virginia Law Review: By far the most useful thing I did when preparing for 1L exams was to round up a few people from the class and take old exams. Don’t just go through them, take them — pretend it’s the real thing, time limits and all. Then discuss answers. You’d be amazed how much you miss the first time. It can be time-consuming, but all the outlining in the world won’t save you if you can’t spot the issues on the fly.

Anonymous 3L at Vanderbilt and a member of the Vanderbilt Law Review: For me, the smartest thing I did while studying for exams 1L year was to go through each entire course in successively shorter periods of time. . . . By successively shortening the amount of time spent thinking through the entire course, the goal was to be able to go quickly through and understand all the material in a couple of minutes — to see both the forest and the trees quickly for the entire course.

Max Shifrin, 3L at Brooklyn and a member of Brooklyn Law Review: The most crucial thing to do as a 1L, in my opinion, is start outlining early in the semester and finish [your outlines] early enough to take as many practice exams as possible in real time. . . . [P]rofessors test the exact same things year in and year out. If you do enough exams, you’ll begin to see a pattern which will give you a huge advantage on exam day.

Anonymous 2L at Columbia, member of the Columbia Law Review: The first time I saw what my Civil Procedure professor expected us to be able to do in three hours I almost had a nervous breakdown. But by taking practice exams and going over answers in a study group, I was able to get a better sense of the material that is frequently tested . . . . By test day I wasn’t intimidated anymore and could take comfort knowing there weren’t going to be any surprises.

Anonymous 3L at Vanderbilt, member of the Vanderbilt Law Review: I made sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. The finals period is already an extremely stressful time, and it is most stressful as a 1L. There is no reason to add to this stress by staying up every night until 3 a.m. working; not only does it add to your stress level, it is not as if the extra hours “studying” are actually beneficial, given that your mind can only take so much studying per day before shutting down.

Click here to read additional student responses.

(jbl).

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2012/04/advice-from-students-on-acing-law-school-exams.html

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