Finals Are Approaching. Do Not Panic!

lawschoolfinalsFinals suck, but you have plenty of time of time to learn the material before you need to prove it. Even if you understand only 10% of the class now, the learning curve is steep and almost everything will make sense by the time you have to prove your mettle.

  1. You cannot see the forest when you are stuck in the trees. Very cliché, but true. Once you have gone over the entire subject matter, things tend to make more sense. Whether you are a 1L or 3L, stuff probably will not click until you have seen most or all of it—which is the end of the semester.
  2. If you are behind, you have time to catch up. Waiting until classes are done is not the time to re-read a semester’s worth of material. If you are behind now, spend the next month getting caught up on your reading and your notes.
  3. Adrenaline helps. Believe it or not, but you probably have too much time on your hands right now. Once classes are over, the adrenaline kicks in and your brain will work at a higher level. The threat of impending doom makes you learn Property as quickly as you can.
  4. Repetition and reviewing is key. Sometimes just re-reading the same junk two or three times is all it takes to master something. That is why making an outline is so beneficial to a degree—because you experience the material again. Once you have your outline, reading it over and over will reinforce everything.
  5. Thanksgiving weekend is a gift. Go out Wednesday night, spend Thursday with your family, and then hit the books. You can reduce your stress during finals prep week by getting a good start on your outlines—which should allow you to get adequate sleep during finals week.

As Long As You Get There Eventually | Fearfully Optimistic

(photo: Pragmagraphr)

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  • John

    I agree about the adrenaline thing to a point. I think the surge of adrenaline can take a student from a C to a B, or from missing the median to hitting it. I don’t believe that same rush can take someone from a B+ to an A- or from an A- to the A*. At that level, you’re mostly dealing with luck. To the extent you aren’t dealing with luck, you really need to carefully and meticulously figure out every nook and cranny of the course, which isn’t helped by a rush of adrenaline. That’s a great lesson I learned from One-L when I read it before law school.

  • John – I agree – cramming on adrenaline will not get you an A if you have not read all semester. But I do think if you study correctly during finals, that can be a significant grade booster, even taking a student from a B or B+ to an A- or A.

  • John Allison

    Don’t panic is a great mantra. Especially once law students come to grips with the reality that grades, for the most part, do not matter. Much of the pressure of law school comes from some insane drive to be number one, or the get the $140k/year job. Depending on your goals, grades might not even be part of the equation. Then you might get to do what I did in law school, have a great time.

    If you must study I’d recommend the following.

    Most law classes, especially 1L classes, only focus on one rule a day. Maybe it was “Wild Animal -> Strict Liability,” or perhaps it was the firm offer rule. Don’t waste your time on the cases. Just learn the rules well enough that you can state the rule, say what in the case applies to the elements within the rule, and then tell them what you think the answer should be based on those facts. Ta Da, you’ll survive law school with your sanity.