If you’re less than satisfied with your Fall semester grades, an individual final exam review session with your professor is probably in order. Final exam review sessions are one of the most informative and productive ways to improve your performance on future exams because they show you both what professors are looking for on a final and where your answer went wrong. They can be enlightening, particular for students who received disappointing results. Not all professors are willing to conduct individual final exam reviews, so if you’re one of the lucky law students who has a professor that does, you should definitely take advantage of this valuable opportunity! If you’ve got your review session booked, keep these tips in mind to help you make the most of this meeting.
DO prepare for the meeting.
No matter the circumstances, you always want to act professional and make a good impression when meeting with a professor. Even though you may be feeling slightly resentful towards your professor for giving you a less than stellar grade, it’s important to show him or her that you’re a serious student who sincerely wants to improve. So take a few minutes to prepare – think about what you hope to get out of the meeting, list out a few questions that you want to discuss, and briefly re-familiarize yourself with the material that was tested. If your professor is willing, try to read through the exam questions and your answer in full prior to the meeting. Oftentimes students are so stressed during the exam that they don’t accurately remember what they wrote by the time grades come out. Reviewing the question and answer will not only refresh your memory but also help you and appreciate the advice your professor is providing.
DON’T be defensive.
It’s important to go into this meeting with the right attitude. Remember that you’re meeting with your professor to try to figure out what went wrong so that you can right the ship and improve on future exams. Engaging in that process will almost certainly involve some criticism of the way you prepared for the exam, the way you wrote your exam answer, or both. No one likes to have their work critiqued, and it can be tempting to become defensive or cynical in response to your professor’s comments. But the whole point of this meeting is to be critical and identify the weaknesses in your answer, so make an effort to stay objective. Try to keep your emotions in check and stay composed so that you can better appreciate your professor’s input and then use it to improve.
DO ask for specifics.
To improve your grades, you need to know exactly what areas you need to focus on. For most students, general comments like “you need to engage in deeper analysis” or “work on organizing the issues” aren’t particularly useful. Politely ask your professor to review specific sections of the exam where you made mistakes or need improvement, and ask for examples of what a better answer would look like. If you’re professor can’t or won’t provide specifics, discuss your answer with a teaching assistant or tutor who will. Your goal should be to discern precisely what was missing so that you can craft a strategy to address those areas on future exams.
DON’T try to argue for a higher grade.
No matter how persuasive you think you are or how wronged you feel, your professor is not going to change your grade. So don’t even try! This one-on-one meeting is a rare and valuable opportunity to figure out how you can improve for the next round; don’t waste it by pointlessly arguing for a higher grade. Professors will respect a student who sincerely wants to understand what she did wrong and make positive changes, but they won’t appreciate a student who waste’s their time by questioning their grading ability.
DO follow up.
The point of reviewing your exam answer with your professor is to help you make long term improvements that will reflect on your next final exam, so don’t simply meet with your professor just for the sake of meeting. Instead, use your professor’s comments and criticism to help you identify the areas you need to work on and make lasting changes. After the meeting, draw up a plan as to how you can address some of your weaknesses and set goals for what you want to achieve by the end of the semester. Then, check in with your professor during office hours or meet with another mentor throughout the semester to evaluate your progress.
Every law student, no matter their grades, has room for improvement in certain areas. Reviewing your final exam with a professor can give you valuable insight that will improve your exam-taking and essay-writing skills in all of your courses, including the bar exam. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to get feedback directly from a professor and make an effort to schedule your final exam review as soon possible.
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And check out these helpful posts:
- How to Right the Ship if You Are Struggling in Law School
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- Tips for Making the Most of Your Professor’s Office Hours
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