Perhaps your computer crashed and you are forced to handwrite your exam (happened to me three times in law school). Perhaps you got an essay question on a topic that you don’t even think was covered in lectures. Or perhaps your anxiety got the best of you and you froze up!
But the thing is, exams aren’t over and you need to gear up for the next one. How do you do this?
Take a moment and allow yourself to be disappointed and frustrated.
When something like this happens, it is important to allow yourself some time to be upset about the situation.
The first time I had computer problems on an exam, I was devastated. When I got home I called my parents for a pep talk (they are both attorneys). My dad’s advice was to make myself a nice stiff drink, be upset, go to bed, and get up the next day ready to move on. It was actually pretty great advice.
Without allowing yourself to be upset, it is very difficult to move on (which may cause more anxiety in the next exam).
Try to identify what went wrong.
If it is a computer issue, get it fixed and test it over and over again. After my first computer problem, the IT folks were sure they got it fixed … only to have the same thing happen during my next final. My mistake? Trusting them and not testing it myself!
If you were blindsided by a topic on the exam, think about how that happened. Was it really something that wasn’t covered in class (not saying that this isn’t possible)? Was your outline incomplete?
Or what if you were plagued by anxiety? Can you create a plan to help you calm yourself if the anxiety comes up again during a future exam? Can you change where you are sitting to relieve anxiety? (I know this sounds silly, but some students get very anxious watching other people around them work. Sitting in the front of the room can solve that.)
Shake it off and move forward!
You know what? I wasn’t super happy with the grade I got in Civil Procedure when my computer crashed. But did that tarnish my legal career? Nope. I still had a great GPA, was on the law review and got a job after graduation.
It is just one class, not your entire legal career. Do what you can to keep things in perspective and move forward. It is just one test. Now, the most important question is how to best move forward.
Good luck with your exams!
Check out these other helpful posts:
- The Law School Mental Game
- How to Organize Your Exam Answers
- Let’s Talk About Sleep
- Demoralizing Feedback? Look at What You Did Right!
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