It is law school exam time. Some students have already started, and many are in the final days of preparation for their first exams. I am getting a number of emails asking me what students should be doing to study for their upcoming finals. In other words, what is the most effective use of time?
What to Do Right Now
First, the most effective use of time is to practice.
I have never had a student say to me, “Man, that practicing really was a waste of time.” Nope. Never.
Every student wishes that they had practiced more, or under time pressure, or in an exam-taking environment. Practicing not only allows you to practice applying the law (the very important “A” in I-R-A-C) but it also tests your memorization and knowledge of the substantive law.
In addition to that you are going to get faster at writing out the rules. So basically it is the “one-stop-shopping” of exam prep.
You should balance practice with memorization. And yes, this is true whether or not this is a closed or open book exam.
- For a closed book exam, you may need to spend more time drilling the rules so you can write them down quickly and accurately.
- If you are taking an open book exam, it is true you will have reference materials there. However, don’t lose sight of how you differentiate yourself from the person sitting next to you. If you are spending all of your time looking up the rules, you are going to be wasting time that should be used writing out the answer. And that is going to hurt your grade.
So make quick-reference materials this weekend (even for your open-book tests) and practice using those materials, and memorizing them.
How to Fit Everything In
Now we know basically what you should be doing in the days leading up to your exam. But how do you balance all of that work?
Well this is a very personal question.
You must self-evaluate the best way that you study/memorize.
Most people seem to be able to effectively memorize material in an hour to ninety-minute blocks. Not four hours (as many law students attempt to do).
You should therefore mix-up the memorization with practice. Memorize for an hour or so then do an essay question. Go back to memorizing, and then another essay.
What Works For YOU?
It is also important to think about how you work best as an individual.
For me, I was able to memorize the best in the first half of the day. So I would make that the primary focus of my morning. Others study better at night. Some study off of flash cards, some mind maps. Whatever you do, come up with a plan and continue to work through the material.
Also, remember how important it is to sleep, eat, and be mentally ready for the exam. If you are exhausted, you won’t have the right mental state to perform at your best. And that is really important! So no all-nighters, no diets of only coffee, and take a walk when you are ready for a break.
Intentional, effective and deliberate studying is your key to exam success!
Best of luck!
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Some more similar posts you might like:
All You Need to Know to Prepare for Law School Exams
How to Organize Your Exam Answers
Should You Proofread Your Law School Exams?
How Do You Know What’s Going to Be on the Exam?
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Good info, although I know the law but chose not to go law school.
I find that law school is really a prep for moments to make u panic then teach u to handle stress or look like it.
Arbitration is where I went, btw is there a way to take the bar exam without having to go thru formal law school.
Great info on Thanks
It depends on the state. In California, at least, you can “read law” with a licensed attorney in lieu of law school and sit for the bar exam, although most states are more restrictive. Worth looking into!
I work 80 hours a week and drive up 4 hours on the weekend for law school. Finals are in 10 days and I need help and tips on how to cram effectively to ensure that I can at least get 2 c’s (I’m taking two classes only.) Thank you for any help you can provide.
I so feel you!
OMG Samira!!!! We are in the same boat! Minus the weekend part. I work 65 hours a week and I was searching for effective cramming tools and came upon this article too! Hilarious!!!!!! I only need C’s this semester too. As my job assist if only you pass. Dont have to do great, just need to have a 2.0 and no AP on your record. What can I do??? I am taking torts 1, K1 and crim law.
🙂 Glad to know I aint the only one. If you find anything before me pleeeeeeeeeeeezzzzz let me know!
Thanks for reading and sorry you guys are stressing out about exams. It is such a hard time of year. Here are some last minute prep tips from one of our tutors. Hopefully they help! Good luck! https://lawschooltoolbox.com/dont-panic-last-minute-tips-for-final-exams/