The time between final exams and grades coming out can be very stressful. We constantly think back to each final and toil over how we answered each question. Did we miss anything? Did we fully analyze both sides of the question? What was the answer to that multiple-choice question anyway? This post explores tips on what to do—and what not do—during that in-between period.
1. Look to what’s Ahead
The best way to move on from your past exams is to look at what’s ahead. It might not feel like it, but you’ve got so much more to do than worry about test grades. You’ve got a new semester to prepare for, and externships to apply to for next year. By focusing solely on the exams, you’re missing everything that’s currently happening in your life and the events to come.
You can spend your time focusing on a “what-if,” taking away your precious time from something more meaningful, or you can continue moving forward.
2. Resolve to keep Pursuing your Goals even if the Results aren’t what you Hoped for
Grades aren’t always what we want them to be. Even when we’ve prepared and worked as hard as we possibly can, things don’t always go our way. But that’s okay. Bad grades don’t mean that you aren’t smart or that you’ll fail as a lawyer. They are simply a reflection of a small part of your life, and that does not define who you are and what you can accomplish.
No one wants to get bad grades, and I hope that you don’t go through that experience. But even if you do, it’s not the end of the world. Your life—and your career aspirations—will go on. No matter what happens, whether your grades are good or bad, you need to make a decision. Will you continue to pursue your career dreams? Will you figure out what went wrong and double down in your efforts during the upcoming semester?
It’s your grit, not your grades, that will determine how things play out. No matter what happens, set your resolve to keep moving forward.
3. Get in Tune with Exam Post-Mortem
“Exam post-mortem” is one of my favorite phrases from law school. Once the exam is done, let it be done. Going over and over the questions again in your head is normal. We’ve invested so much of our time (and money) into a law school education, and we want to know that our hard work is paying off. Like many, you probably also want to hash out the exam questions and answers with your fellow law school classmates.
But that doesn’t do us any good. We’ll then just worry even more that we missed something, and we’ll be concerned that someone else caught something that we didn’t. By letting go, we get to leave the baggage from the previous semester behind and continue on our law school journey.
4. Practice Self-Care
You just survived—and likely thrived—through a grueling test period. During exam time, we typically let everything else go out the window. We don’t exercise as much as we did (or should), and our most meaningful relationships can sometimes take a back seat.
Nowadays, the emphasis on self-care can seem like just a phrase that people throw around. But research shows that periods of rest can actually enhance our future performance. Having already flexed your mental muscles for the weeks leading up to and during exams, ruminating on your exams will simply deplete you more. To truly be ready for an upcoming summer job or new semester, you have to give your mind a break.
And no matter what, the time after finals and before the next semester onslaught starts is the best time to reclaim those vital aspects of ourselves. Make your way down that list of books you want to read, get back into running, spend time with your loved ones, or do whatever else it is that makes you tick.
5. Handling Results as they Come Out
Depending on your law school, results will trickle out over a period of a few days or even a few weeks. Regardless of the result, there are some things you can do:
- Reflect on how you prepared for the exam. Were you outlining consistently throughout that class? Did you take up your professor’s study recommendations? A bad grade can teach us about what didn’t work so that we can do even better in the future. Likewise, if you receive a solid grade, then try to implement those strategies that you used going forward.
- Go talk to your professor. Your professor can provide insight into how you could improve your exam answers, which is vital information for you moving forward. Some professors will even host extra classroom sessions to go over all of the exam questions and the best way to answer.
No matter what happens after your exams, know that you just accomplished a long and arduous journey. Praise and be proud of yourself for making it this far. And know that in the interim before grades come out, you’ve got a plan for how to handle anything that may happen.
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