I think it’s safe to say that during law school, nothing tops the pinnacle of complexity like finals season. Yes, it’s generally difficult to make the transition into this new world of stress-filled days complete with legal jargon and a side of anxiety, but finals season no doubt ups the ante on this experience. Now the good news is that by the time you make it to your 2L year, you’ll likely begin to hit your stride as you may be equipped with the resilience and armor needed to fight your way through finals. However, by the time you get to your 3L year, finals season may become the most daunting uphill battle because, despite surviving four semesters of this fight, you may find yourself in a position where you just don’t care. When you just don’t care, it’s hard to maintain focus and find the resilience you need to complete extensive hours of outlining and studying. When you just don’t care, it’s hard to remember that you need to succeed in 3L year if you want to achieve your J.D. When you just don’t care, it’s hard to fuel the momentum you need to get through this trying season. But I get it. It’s easy to not care when you’re so close to the finish line and you’ve already surpassed two years of struggle. Heck, you’re probably even entitled to a moment of not caring, but finals season isn’t the time to do it.
So how do you find the motivation that you likely threw out the window the moment you stepped into 3L year? Admittedly, it’s difficult to pull this motivation out especially when you’ve been successfully coasting all semester and doing the bare minimum just to get by, but trust me, if you’ve made it this far it’s there. Finding this motivation and maintaining your momentum will just be a process of mind over matter. Simple right? Jokes aside, garnering this momentum won’t be without difficulty but maybe the below three suggestions can get you on the right track.
1. Forget that you’re a 3L
If you’re trying to gather the momentum to completely commit to finals season, I suggest trying to ignore the fact that you’re a 3L. I know it may be extremely difficult to disregard the reality of this glorious road to the end. However, it’s very possible that after two years of being fed the stereotypical dream of 3L freedom, you’re naturally completing this self-fulfilling ideology and, as a result, you have no desire to do anything. Well, if you have final exams around the corner, I suggest that you wash your mind of this idea even if it’s just for a few weeks. Convince yourself that these finals are just as important as your first law school exam and then try to apply the study routine that you have in previous years. Remind yourself that you still have to pass these finals to graduate and that any job offer you currently hold could become contingent on how these final scores affect your GPA. I know that may be a bit scary to think about but use it as your motivation. Fortunately, you won’t have to sit through many more exams before receiving your diploma so just hold on to this mindset and push through.
2. Avoid Distractions
I know this probably goes without saying, but if you want to garner the momentum to study, you should probably avoid distractions. Now I’m not solely referring to distractions like social media or too much TV. I also mean avoiding your other 3L friends who only have take-home finals or who worked their schedule into having no finals at all. I can attest to this distraction being the most difficult for me in my first 3L semester. Somehow I ended up having four final exams while most of my friends had one or none at all. Therefore, our “study sessions” turned into hang out sessions considering their lighter workload. I had to make the effort to avoid them during my study time and this worked wonders in refocusing my mind. I didn’t have the constant reminder that everyone else had a limited workload and it was easier to jump into some of my old study routines and get on track.
3. Pre-Bar Prep
Another helpful way to gather the momentum to focus is to view this season as pre-bar preparation. I can honestly attest that during bar prep I felt more comfortable in the subject areas that I already completed in law school. Therefore, if your 3L courses cover any of the bar subject areas, then finals season could be an excellent opportunity to get ahead. View this study period as less time that you will have to dedicate during actual bar prep. Making the commitment to roll up your sleeves and do the heavy lifting now will be beneficial in the long run. Now, if your final exams won’t cover bar prep subject areas, I still recommend viewing this period as pre-preparation. It may not be as beneficial in preparing you for a specific subject area, but it should be helpful in preparing your mind to focus. If you’ve lost momentum now while you’re still in school, imagine how much more difficult it will be when you’ve already graduated and you’re no longer in a school setting. You will need to have very strong motivation during bar prep and what better time to start developing those skills than now?
As you dig into finals season, I wish you all the best!
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