When you reach the halfway point in the semester, you want things to start clicking. Your study schedule should be consistent, you should be familiar with your professor’s teaching style and their expectations, and you should have enough of a handle on the substantive concepts that you can create effective outlines. But what if you’re several weeks into the semester and you feel like you still haven’t found your groove? Don’t despair – there’s still plenty of time to turn things around before final exams, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that things will improve on their own. Instead, take action! Identify what you’re struggling with and put a plan in place to address those issues. Below are some common mid-semester struggles that you may be experiencing and some suggestions to help you overcome them so that you can feel confident going into finals week!
I Bombed my First LRW Assignment or Midterm
A disappointing performance on a graded assignment like a LRW memo or a midterm can be a red flag. Don’t make excuses by telling yourself that you didn’t study as hard as you could have or that you will be more prepared for finals. Go see your professor immediately to review the assignment and get feedback. Then, do some self-reflection to determine what caused this result. Once you’ve identified the causes, you can start strategizing ways to correct them. As you’re reflecting and planning your new study approach, try to maintain the right attitude about your midterm grades. Rather than viewing a disappointing midterm as a catastrophe, try to see it as an opportunity to make changes so that you won’t make the same mistakes on finals.
I Feel Like the Only One Who is Confused in Class
But I promise you, you’re not! Remember, law school is supposed to be hard. And it’s hard for everyone, even the students who look like they’re sailing through class. It takes significant effort and persistence to master the material you learn in law school, so don’t give up. If you’re really feeling lost, it’s crucial that you reach out for help. There is no need to struggle unnecessarily! Visit office hours, go to academic support, join a study group, or find a reliable tutor.
I Still Haven’t Started My Outlines
By the midway point in the semester, you should be well into the outlining process. If you still haven’t started your outlines, you need to prioritize this task so that you can get caught up. If your outlines are not up to date because you’ve been procrastinating or haven’t been managing your time well, you need to adjust your study schedule to accommodate this crucial task and find a way to get started! However, if you haven’t started your outlines because you don’t understand the material, see the suggestions above. If you don’t get your substantive questions answered now, you’re likely to feel even more confused and overwhelmed at the end of the semester, so reach out for assistance right away.
I’m Feeling Anxious/Depressed/Not Sleeping/Abusing Substances/Overwhelmed/etc.
Although law school is supposed to be challenging, it’s not supposed to make you feel completely miserable. So if you’re feeling any of the above, seek help immediately. Many law schools have mental health counseling available for their students or can refer you to an appropriate resource. Learning healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety will not only improve your law school experience, but it will also serve you well when you start practicing.
I’m Burned Out
If you’ve been working overtime all semester it’s normal to feel burned out at some point. To help you maintain your focus and motivation throughout the semester, make sure your schedule allows for adequate sleep, regular exercise, and occasional breaks from the law school routine. To maintain your productivity, consider using a time management system like the Pomodoro Technique or try incorporating brain-boosting music while you study.
I’ve Had a Personal Emergency Arise and it’s Impacting my Ability to Focus on Law School
Life does not stop when you enter law school. If something happens that impacts your ability to attend class, study, or sit for an exam, let the appropriate person (usually an academic affairs Dean) at your school know right away. Don’t wait until after you receive a failing grade to let someone know that you had an emergency. If you alert your school immediately, you can start discussing what options may be most appropriate given the circumstances – whether it’s rescheduling an exam, adjusting your course schedule, or even restarting the following year.
Don’t get discouraged if you’re struggling at the midway point in the semester. After all, law school is hard! It’s normal to struggle with this difficult material to some degree. Stay positive and put a plan in place to prepare for the second half of the semester so that you can feel confident when you sit for exams.
For more helpful advice, check out these articles:
- Improve Your Second Semester Law School Grades
- Self-Care During Midterm Exams in Law School
- 5 Ways to Avoid Disaster in the Second Half of the Semester
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