As exams approach, the pressure ratchets up in law school. No way around it — it’s inevitable. Luckily there are things you can do to handle the pressure of law school exams, so you’ll keep your nerves contained and do your best. For top results, it’s also critical to practice, a lot. Too many law students leave this to the last minute, or never do any practice!
Read on for strategies to handle the stress and pressure of exam prep and on how to optimize your practice time and be sure you’re ready for the exam weeks and days themselves.
Best of luck!
Handling the Pressure of Law School Exam Prep
- How We Think About Law School Exams: An Overview If you spend much time on the Law School Toolbox, you’ll probably notice that there aren’t a ton of “tips and tricks” posts. Instead, we spend a lot of time talking about broader goals. If you understand the ultimate goal, and why it matters, you’ll be able to figure out for yourself (with some suggestions, perhaps) what will work best for you.
- What You Should and Shouldn’t Do During Reading Week Welcome to reading week! Once classes end, an ominous “this is it” sort of ambiance can start to creep into most law schools. You don’t have any more “homework,” and yet, things might seem scarier than ever. Here are some important “do’s” and “don’ts” you should be thinking about to make sure you’re going into exams as ready and able as possible, and not wasting time unnecessarily.
- 4 Benefits to Establishing a Law School Exam Routine In law school, exam season is never much fun. The stress is palpable, the stakes are high, and everyone is over-caffeinated. We provide a lit of four benefits that can be drawn from a rigid exam routine.
- Pacing Yourself Through Finals, Part 1: Sustaining Your Focus During Finals Week It can be difficult to maintain an intense focus and high level of work effort over an extended period of time, and, if you don’t pace yourself appropriately, you may start to feel fatigued, unmotivated, and burnt out. Keep these suggestions in mind to help you sustain your motivation and perform your best throughout finals week.
- Defending Yourself Against Law School Pressure: Leading Up the Exam Law school can be a pressure cooker, and many students crack under the strain. Dr. Hank Weisinger has some tips on handling the pressure in the days leading up to your exams.
- Defending Yourself Against Law School Pressure: The Night Before and Morning of the Exam Last week we talked about how to handle pressure leading up to the big exam. Today, Dr. Weisinger is giving us tips on how to handle pressure right before the exam.
- Five Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success on Law School Exams Most law students are aware that outlining their courses and taking and getting feedback on practice exams are vital to ensuring that they perform to the best of their ability on law school exams. What law students may not be aware of is that there are other things just as vital that they can do to maximize their chances of doing well on law school exams.
- Remember, Remember, the Fear of November Perhaps you were handling the October Freak-Out just fine, but now it’s November. For many law students, that means exams are just a few short weeks away. If you feel you may be teetering on a precipice overlooking exam day doom, take a few moments to consider the following questions and come up with a plan.
- Podcast Episode 20: The Exam Countdown - One Month and Counting! When you're counting the time to your first exam in weeks, rather than months, lots of law students start to panic. If you've got law school exams coming up, tune into this podcast!
- Podcast Episode 29: Handling Pressure in Law School (Guest Dr. Hank Weisinger) One of the biggest challenges law students face is how to handle pressure in law school. In this podcast, the New York Times bestselling author of "Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When it Matters Most" and renowned pressure expert, Dr. Hank Weisinger, is here to talk about handling the pressure of law school.
- Podcast Episode 39: Battling Test Anxiety in Law School and on the Bar Exam Today we’re talking about everyone’s favorite topic – test anxiety. Okay, not really anyone’s favorite topic, but a very important one because so many law students deal with test anxiety in law school and on the bar exam. Listen to our tips here!
- Podcast Episode 41: Avoiding Law School Exam Disasters In this podcast we're talking about avoiding exam disasters, even when you're not as prepared as you might want to be. It's not too late to pull things together, but there's no time to waste!
Practicing for Law School Exams
- Demoralizing Feedback? Look at What You Did Right Between midterms and legal writing, lots of law students are starting to get feedback…which means lots of law students are feeling pretty bummed. But here’s a hint: Don’t just focus on what you did wrong. Pay close attention to what you did RIGHT.
- Exam Tip: How to Apply a Rule or a Statute to Facts If you’re taking Civil Procedure, Evidence, a UCC-based course, or any other course involving rules or statutes, consider how the rules or statutes (I’ll use the terms interchangeably) will affect your approach to answering exam questions. Reaching the correct conclusion depends on applying and interpreting statutory language. This requires a meticulous, step-by-step approach. Here I’ll set out a technique you can use on practice exams and on your finals, breaking it down and then illustrating it with a simple example from the UCC.
- The Value of Issue-Spotting and Strategies to Improve Your Skills Improve your all-important issue-spotting skills with these strategies.
- What’s Your Excuse? Start Taking Practice Exams Everyone knows they need to do it, but no one wants to. Let’s take the most common excuses one-by-one and convince you that the time is now to work on practice exams.
- Can Failing a Test Actually Help You Pass? Is studying the key to getting good grades, or is it possible that terrible test results might actually be the best way to study? How could failing an exam possibly raise your score? That’s exactly what UCLA psychologists recently sought to determine in a new study about memory and exam performance.
- Where Can You Find Sample Law School Essay Exams? Hopefully we have sold you on the need to practice writing. But with that comes a very common question from students: Where do I find practice materials? Have no fear — we are here to help.
- What Am I Telling My Students? Practice! Practicing is the “dress rehearsal” of law school exams. You would never go on stage without having practiced the whole show through before opening night. So why do we think we can put off practicing for an exam? You practice so you can get it right on exam day!
- Making the Most Out of Reading Week Reading week is an important opportunity to make a final push in preparation for exams. Want to make the most of it? Make sure your reading week plans include the following strategies.
- It’s Almost Finals! Are you Getting the Most Out of Your Study Time? Law students do a lot to convince themselves they're studying in the best way possible, when in reality they aren't. Here are tips on how to get the most out of your study time and be as effective as possible.
- Five Categories of Questions to Ask Your Professor After Your Exam Regardless of the grade you received on your exam, you should always meet with your professor to discuss your exam performance. If you are nervous about meeting with your professor, here are five categories of questions to get the conversation started.
- Ahead of the Curve: Time Management -- The Value of Valuable Work Throughout the Semester Preparing for class alone is not enough. You need to incorporate key tasks after each lesson, chapter, and (ultimately) semester in order to survive and ultimately thrive in law school! Here are some ways to improve your performance throughout your entire law school career.
- Do You Need to Write Out Practice Exams in Law School? As law students around the country continue to prepare for final exams, many students are wondering if it is worth their time to write out practice exams. Isn’t reading and outlining enough? I argue, no!
- How to Practice for Exams in Law School Are you starting to think about your exam preparation? Use our tips to practice and find exam success.
Law School Exam Week Strategies
- “Yikes! My Computer Crashed” — Moving On After a Disappointing Exam Experience We spend a lot of time at the Law School Toolbox talking about how to make sure you find exam success. But what do you do when things don’t go well? Exams aren’t over and you need to gear up for the next one. How do you do this?
- What Should You Bring with You to a Law School Exam? Lee and Alison have two different methods for how to pack for the test. Read both and decide your own!
- 7 Tips for Avoiding a Law School Exam Disaster If you’re facing exams soon, and you’re not prepared, don’t panic. It’s not too late to salvage the situation, but you’re going to have to get things together quickly! Here’s how.
- Do You Know When and Where Your Exams Are? It doesn’t matter how much you study, if you don’t show up at the right time for the test or you don’t turn in your paper on time, your grades will suffer. Don’t let this happen to you!
- Self-Care During Midterm Exams in Law School Do you have midterms coming up? Here are some ways to make sure that you're taking care of yourself during this stressful time of the semester.
- Two Simple Ways to Become a Better Law School Test Taker When you enter the room for a law school exam, how do you feel? Interestingly enough, how you feel — or, more accurately, how you react to how you feel — can be a huge determinant of your exam success.
- You Have an Exam on Monday. What Should You Be Doing This Weekend? It’s law school exam time. We’re getting a number of emails asking what students should be doing to study for their upcoming finals. In other words, what is the most effective use of your time?
- Don’t Panic! Last Minute Tips for Final Exams Welcome to the home stretch! In addition to the reviewing you should be doing, another exercise that might be useful is to come up with an emergency checklist, or “panic plan.” A panic plan is your plan for what you’re going to do if the worst happens on exam day. Here's how to make one.
- Get Over It! Why You Should Stop Rehashing Your Final Exams I’m sure you already know this, but there’s nothing you can do about what you wrote on your exams now that they’re over. Stop stressing over them!
- Performing Under Pressure: During and After the Exam In the past we talked about how to handle pressure leading up to the big exam and the evening and morning before. Today, Dr. Weisinger is giving us tips on how to handle pressure during and after the exam.
- How to Recover from a Bad Law School Exam Experience If you’re in law school, you’re eventually going to have a really bad exam experience. Here are six tips for recovering from a disastrous law school exam.
- You’re Totally Unprepared for a Law School Exam! How to Avoid a Disaster It happens to many of us in law school. For whatever reason, you’re totally unprepared for an upcoming exam. Obviously this isn’t an ideal situation to be in, but it might be possible to avoid an exam disaster. Here are a few tips.
- Podcast Episode 23: Law School Exam Day Tips Are exams looming on the horizon? In today's episode, we're dishing out some law school exam day tips.
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