Inevitably, anxiety for exams will always kick in. However, you should not fear or overreact. The worst thing that you can do is to become stressed out for exams before preparing for them.
Calm down, you’ve made it this far, you know yourself better than anyone else. Ultimately, you will realize that everyone studies differently and there’s not a “best way” to exam prep.
Talk to your seniors, obtain those outlines, draft your own outline off of them. Make sure you have a plan to approach each and every exam.
~ Charles L.
Hofstra University School of Law ’15
The two biggest things that helped me through exams were 1) efficient note-taking and 2) effective outlining.
Your law school classes will usually be part lecture, part discussion. There are some students I see scribbling down every little thing that is mentioned in class, while others hardly ever touch their notepads or computers. Being somewhere in the middle is the key. You don’t want your notes to be filled with things you’ll never be tested on, because the important stuff will be flooded in a sea of uselessness. But at the same time, if your teacher goes over something more than once, or details a particular area of the law, make sure to take note of it! You’ll most likely see it again come test time.
Refining your note-taking habits will also make outlining much easier. Because the majority of law school classes only have one final exam that determines course grade, students have an overwhelming amount of information to study at the end of the semester. Outlining will help you stay organized, on topic, and ahead of the game. So take good, quality notes while spending some serious time creating solid, organized outlines.
~ Brendan Evans
Boston University School of Law ’15
Exams aren’t about memorization and regurgitation. Law school exams are about understanding the policy and reasons for tests and applying facts to those tests. They are a practical exercise in logic and reasoning. Understanding key concepts and analysis will be a far better preparation than memorizing facts of cases.
While you’re taking the exam, make sure you take your time and breath. Breathe between questions; breathe between paragraphs. Take the time to slow down, gather your thoughts, clear your head, and move on to your next thought. To be honest, most students won’t need the full time period. So when you have the extra time, get up and walk around for a minute.
Finally, don’t get worked up. I know this is a lot easier said than done, but getting worked up simply won’t help. Plus, if you’ve prepared well, you’ll have nothing to worry about anyways.
~ Jared Hinsey
New York Law School ’13