The semester began, and you spent numerous hours reading cases, attending lectures, and trying to learn the law. You got caught up in the hustle and bustle of law school and suddenly it is the middle of the semester! Now is your first chance to show your professors what you’ve got and how much you have learned in your midterm exams. So what exactly are midterms? How are midterms different from finals? What should you do if you didn’t score as highly as you had hoped? In order to give you some clarity in this challenging time, I have answered some “questions” that you may be asking regarding midterm exams. Hopefully these answers will shed some light and help you through this difficult time!
What are Midterms?
Midterms, in general, are exams that are given in the middle of the semester. Sometimes they are used to break-up the material in which you are tested on what you learned in the first half of the semester and then you will take a final exam on the material from the second half of the semester. However, sometimes they are used more for a “check-in” on your understanding and comprehension of the course. Also, some schools just don’t have midterms at all.
How are Midterms Different from Finals?
At first glance, midterms and finals seem very similar. In a sense, they are: they are both cumulative exams with the purpose of testing your understanding of concepts you have studied during a certain period of time. Traditionally, finals are used as your only grade for the course in law school. That means your one grade is determined by one exam, and you are expected to know and understand everything from the course. However, midterms are becoming more popular in law school. Midterms usually aren’t as formal as final exams. You also do not get a week or so of “reading and review” to prepare for your exams. Also, since not all professors choose to do midterms, you may have to prepare for your exam on top of your other classes.
How Long Will It Take to Get My Results?
Every lawyer’s favorite answer – it depends! The time between the finishing your exam and when you get your grades back sometimes seems like it will go on forever. Ultimately it depends on your professor, the style of the exam, length of exam, and the specific area of law. Just like final exams, midterm exams also take awhile to grade. Each law school has their own deadlines, requirements and grading system for finals and midterms. It is best to check with your professor to see when you can expect your results back. Many professors try to get your grades back soon enough so that you can review your answers and have the ability to understand where you potentially went wrong or what you did really well so that you can be more prepared for your final exam.
How Should I Prepare for my Midterms?
Each class, and exam for that matter, is different so how to prepare will vary. Each professor has their own way of testing their students and creating exams. The best thing you can do is to figure out what kind of exam you will be facing. Once you know this, you can practice questions that may appear on the exam. Also, you can check to see if you can find previous exams from that course and do a “mock” exam before your midterm! Another way to prepare is to go through your notes and create your outline for the course. This will help you prep for the exam and also be on top of your outlining.
What Should I do If I do Terrible on my Midterm?
Unfortunately this happens sometimes. You try so hard, and you feel like you fell short. It is never fun to feel like you did terribly on an exam, however, you can learn a lot from your midterm exam results. This was your first chance to check your understanding in your class. If you felt like you didn’t do as well as you thought you would, you can see where you went wrong so that you can focus your efforts going forward on what you are struggling with. Also, you have plenty of time to turn things around and be successful! One great suggestion would be to go to your professor’s office hours to go over the topics you are having trouble with or to go over your results. Once you have a better understanding, you will be able to do well on your final exam.
You Will Ace Your Midterms
I am sure you are stressed about doing well on your exams. After all, this is the first chance you get to measure your understanding and comprehension of your courses. It is easy to get yourself in an anxiety spiral in which you convince yourself that you are going to fail. Law school is a very difficult and overwhelming time in your life. However, it does not last forever! You are working hard and trying to be prepared for your exams so you are already a step ahead of the game. You will make it through these midterms, then finals, and so on. Now take a deep breath and study hard for your upcoming exams. Best of luck!
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