My school just finished fall break, which means, like most schools, we’ve reached the halfway point of the semester and final exams will be here in the blink of an eye. At this point, self-evaluation is a great way to gauge where you are and what changes you can make to put your best self out there.
Below is a list of questions to ask yourself to help evaluate your work up to this point.
How have I been preparing for my exams?
Since all (or most) of your grades will come down to one final exam, it’s imperative you’re correctly prepared. At this point, you should be able to answer these questions in the affirmative:
Do I know the format of my exam?
- Is it multiple choice? Essay? A combination of the two?
- Is it open note or closed book?
- Has my professor made any past exams available and where can I find them?
If the professor hasn’t said this openly in class, email them or go into their office hours.
Am I taking practice tests?
- It’s probably drilled into your head by now that taking practice tests is the best way to prepare for your exams – and that’s because it is. Practice tests are the perfect way to test drive your outline and make sure you’re understanding what a good exam will look like.
Am I writing hypos?
- The importance of taking practice tests was drilled into my head early on but I wish the ability to write a hypo was too. There is no better way to remember a point from class than creating a hypo to apply a bright line rule too. You should be creating hypos every day.
Are you attending class?
Attending every class is so important. When students feel they are falling behind in reading, they’ll think they should miss class in order to catch up, which is a horrible method. Professors know students can access the reading at all times but won’t have easy access to what was learned in class and will likely put in class material on the final to set the curve.
How are your class notes?
It’s recommended you review your lectures notes in detail at least once per week. When looking over your class notes, ask: is the method you chose effectively working for you? This is not the time for any drastic changes but simple adjustments could make the difference in the work you produce, like writing your notes using the Cornell method.
Have you gone to your professor’s office hours?
I’m at fault for not going as often as I should which is ridiculous because the professors are literally setting aside an hour to help you work through any problems you have with the class. Now is the time to go into their office and clear up any questions you have. Emailing your professor a quick question might seem like the easier way to connect but the professor is likely to only give you a quick answer, where in person they could expand on the topic in depth.
Are your study habits working for you?
After hearing the horror stories of group studying, I started off my first semester studying alone. This worked pretty well but towards the end of the semester I started studied with a few people to go over big class topics. I realized this approach worked great for me to clear up any inconsistencies in my outline.
Are your outlines up to date?
Speaking of outlines- do not wait until November 1st to start your outlines. If you leave outlining until the end of the semester, it isn’t as effective because a big part of outlining is filling in the holes. This point is also a great time to start your attack outlines (the ones you memorize).
Are you taking care of yourself?
I find that both my classmates and myself will rarely ask this question because not taking care of yourself can be seen almost as a badge of honor. I’ve had classmates say – “I haven’t slept more than four hours in the past three days….” – to prove to everyone how hard they’ve been working. First off, this approach isn’t super effective and the person who slept a full 8 hours and took an afternoon nap isn’t any less hardworking than the student who stayed in the library until 2 AM. It’s all about balance.
Exercising, eating well, sleeping and setting aside valuable breaks for yourself is one of the most important keys to succeeding in school. If you’re having trouble managing time to take care of yourself, feel free to reach out to your student services or a faculty advisor- they’re all there to help, especially in matters like this.
In conclusion, the middle of the semester is really just the beginning of the most adrenaline-charged time of the year. You have the chance to really show your professors and yourself what you can accomplish. You might feel that you don’t have a lot of control of your grades because of the deadly curve, but keep in mind that you do have a lot of control over how you approach finals. Good luck and show everyone what you’re made of!
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Other helpful posts:
- Time for a Mid-Semester Reality Check
- You’re Half Way Through the Semester, Now What?
- Mid-Semester Law School To-Do List (podcast)
- Your Mid-Semester Law School Reality Check
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