More and more law students are finding that their professors are offering midterm exams. If this is you, it’s great news! You are going to gain valuable insight and experience by completing your midterm, which will help you prepare for final exams. However, it is still scary to be facing an exam this early in the semester. Here are a few tips to help you get ready for midterm exams.
1. Make sure you know the format of the midterm. If your professor hasn’t shared this with you, you should make sure you ask him/her about it (in class, after class, or in office hours). You need to know what the test is going to look like so you can adequately prepare. Is it all multiple choice? Then you need to track down some multiple-choice practice. Is it an essay? Then you need to make sure you write some practice questions and get feedback on them if possible.
2. Outline the law that will be covered on the midterm. Some students don’t want to take time to outline this early in this semester. But outlining is a critical step in the studying process. It is where we think about the material, organize it, and generally commit it to memory. Reviewing your notes, I would argue, is not enough. Go through the outlining process in order to review the law and also learn how best to outline in the future. Remember, although you might be struggling with the material, that struggle is likely part of the learning process (which is valuable in the long run).
3. Practice, Practice, Practice. How do you know if your outline is working? You try to write a practice answer. If you can’t identify the law in your outline, the outline isn’t working.
4. Try to get some feedback. If your professor has supplied you with practice questions, try to write them out and then go see your professor to talk through the answer. You may be surprised by the feedback you might get on your work. That feedback is critical to learning what your professor wants on the exam and may really help your grade in the end.
5. Take advice from upperclassmen, with caution. In the years I have been working with law students, I have heard some pretty terrible advice passed down from upperclassmen. From telling students to make huge outlines to not worrying about the black letter law—upperclassmen can give really bad advice. So make sure you are evaluating any advice you are getting. Not all advice is created equal.
Remember, this is just a midterm
Most law school midterms are a small part of your grade, so try to do your best but don’t let the test become more than it needs to be. Don’t ignore your other classes (to their detriment) because you are studying for one midterm. You need to keep up with your reading and studying for all your classes throughout the semester.
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Here are some other helpful posts:
- 5 Myths About the Law School Study Group
- Top 5 Mistakes Students Make Preparing for Class
- How We Think About Law School Exams
- The Law School Semester’s Half Over: 7 Questions to Consider
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