So you’ve finally digested all the holiday ham, turkey and candied yams your body can endure and now it’s time to face the music – your final exam grades. If you’ve already received them and they were not as great as you anticipated, but you can still feel your heart beating, and you can still process air within your lungs, then you’ve survived. I mean, not doing well on finals in all honesty sucks, but if you’re reading this post, you are already taking a step towards improvement, and your dedication and application can make all the difference the next time around.
So what exactly do you do next if you didn’t do well on your final exams?
1. Assess what Factors may have caused low scores
The first step I would recommend is to assess what factors may have contributed to your low scores. This step is perhaps the most important as it may be difficult to fix the issue without determining the triggering cause. So what was it?
Did you not study enough? Perhaps you started your preparation later than what was ideal. This factor could have been due to simply not having enough time to start earlier or not fully understanding the starting point of your material which started a cycle of study delays. Whatever it is, write down what prevented you from getting a head start on studying and put a plan in place to prevent that from happening again. This plan could be based in outlining earlier, completing more office hour visits or even finding a tutor. However, having a game plan will likely increase your improvement.
2. Review Each Exam
The next step I would recommend is to review each of your exams in detail. I know this is almost as painful as opening an old wound, but this step is necessary. Completing this review will enable you to determine exactly where you went wrong or it may possibly guide you to an oversight on the part of the professor. Although it is rare, I have certainly seen students able to get a better grade after noticing a professor’s mistake, so don’t miss this opportunity.
When reviewing each exam, carefully go over the question and most importantly “the call” of the question. Were you totally off base in your response? Also review the professor’s feedback, professor’s will sometimes outline exactly what they were looking for and what you failed to provide and you can log this guidance to memory for the future.
3. Office Hours
Yes, I know I dwell on office hours in many posts, but I cannot stress its importance enough. Now is a good time to bring your exam to your professor and go over in detail what they were looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask them point blank what answer could have secured you an “A.” Some professors will be willing to provide this detail and this feedback is golden. However, after visiting office hours for exam feedback, don’t be afraid to make this a normal part of your future exam prep. Oftentimes students fail to utilize office hours throughout the semester. This is a big mistake. Throughout the semester, make a point to visit your professor at least once during each topic covered to ensure that you are understanding the big picture but, most importantly, the details. At the end of the day, your professors are the ones responsible for your scores and as objective as a law school exam may seem, subjectivity also plays a role in your professor’s discretion. So get in their heads and try to understand how you can make improvements to their liking.
4. Integrate New Methods of Preparation and Study
Finally, improving on your grades likely won’t be possible unless you integrate new methods of preparation and study. Once you’ve mastered step 1 and you’ve assessed the reasons behind your low scores, now is the time to determine what you can do differently. If you’re a 1L, one new study prep technique I would suggest is trying out tutoring. We can create a program through which expert tutors help you to assess what went wrong and what you need to do to be more successful in the future.
I hope the above tips are helpful in setting you on the path of final exam success.
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