Law School Exam Tips
It's been a while and I know 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us, so I can only imagine what current law school students (especially 1Ls) are facing. So, because of that, I prepared a list of law school exam tips for those starting exam season. There not only worked for myself (seriously, bullet proof!) but they worked for many of my collogues as well.
1. Sleep 6-7 hours a day. No, seriously. I know it may sound crazy to sleep this much during finals, but you will find that if you want to maintain focus, memorize data, and process it well from studying until exam day- you must get proper sleep. You will retain more information, and process your thoughts well if you get more sleep. So no late nights trying to cram, because at this point that won't help!
2. Eat regularly and snack often. Having full meals, and plenty of snacks will help with dealing with stress, keep your energy boosted, and keep you focused. Choose wise food and snacks though! I go more into detail below.
3. Make a study schedule. This was a difficult one for me to understand as a first year law student. How do you study and still keep up with classes still going on? I am a visual learner, and a person who had to work hard for her grades- therefore, this is coming from my personal experience. I was a part-time student, working full time plus one part-time job- so my time was precious. I scheduled out all my hours, wrote down my exam dates, prioritized by subject (which classes I struggled with the most to the least), and I mapped out my specific study hours for each subject. Need help making a schedule? Don't be afraid to ask a collogue. I can also help you, so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a DM on Instagram to schedule a quick zoom call.
4. Focus on your outline. I hope you know how to make an outline, and if you do- you know the drill. For those who are new, or have struggled with understanding what an outline does/you do with it- continued reading. An outline should be enough that it will trigger your memory to black letter law, the holding of a case, and what your professor said about that particular material/subject. It should not be your notes, nor should it be the outline from- let's say- Barbri. However, you can use aids to help you put your outline together (even if your notes don't help you). Some of the best advice I got (as a visual learner), was to create a skeleton out of the syllabus of each class, begin by filling in the black letter law to each case, and then write down the summary of what you do need to remember. Your exam will use IRAC, so this format will help you remember the law, plus what you need to apply to the case. I used books like Barbri's outline and Lexis' Nexis' "Understanding" series. I really recommend the "Understanding" series! Truly helped me understand the law when I could no longer go to my professor or ask a fellow student for help.
5 .Eat power foods! I am not kidding. Power foods will change your energy, outlook of exams, and mindset. I made sure to eat plenty, plus snack often. So here is the list of items I ate to keep me going (no coffee needed): blue berries (antioxidants), dark chocolate (90-97% and small quantities), brown rice (not instant! I usually made enough for the whole week), salmon (baked is easiest and you can study while it cooks), and avocado (healthy fat!), pineapple (to boost energy). My favorite all time smoothie recipe (one my mom created for us as teens) consisted off: orange juice, blueberries, spinach or celery, and pineapple pieces. I added flax seed for a healthy colon and extra energy.
6. Avoid caffeine. I know, it sounds insane! Not only can caffeine make you addicted and crash, jittery or contribute to acid reflux, poor sleep, and therefore more stress- caffeine is not really a good friend during exam period. Instead, drink some of that "Naked Blue Machine juice " or eat more pineapple! You'll find yourself able to not only concentrate and feel healthier, but it will give you much more energy!
7. Meal prep. What is meal prep? It's when you take the number of days of the week, decided on the three healthy meals and snacks you want to have, go shopping intentionally (or order online if you can), and set 2-3 hours took cook for the whole week. Usually, this time was Sundays for me. Yes, I did eat the same food 2-3 times a day, but when you are preparing for big exams- it will save you plenty of time. Since I was a very poor law student, I bought my tuple ware at the dollar tree (later I asked for glass types for Christmas lol). If you want an example- email me! I'll be happy to share a meal prep week example, and a shopping list.
8. Do practice exams and talk to professors. I know it may seem a little late, but practicing exams is key to rocking one! Some professors will provide practice exams, others will not- but you find old law school exams at your library. Make sure you get the help from a professor or upper class-person on how to write a law school exam. It is never too late to talk to your professors, even if you have not talked to them all semester! Just bring one question, and you will see that you may have a lot more to ask! The only time you cannot ask any questions, is if a professor says you cannot.
9. Do not stay up late. I cannot say this enough! Please make sure you don't stay up so late that you will not get enough sleep. My schedule usually started at 5 or 6 am, and ended at 12 am. I made sure to sleep enough, specially on the day before the exam.
10. Limit your social media intake of completely delete all your apps from your phone! I think this says it all. I hope you do limit your social media intake, specially with the stressors of today. You already have a lot going on, and you do not need more stress. Yes, there is a lot going on and you may feel like you want to do something- but you will best serve the community and world when you get that law degree!
Best of luck friends, and thanks for reading the Lawtina Blog.