HAPPY #TBT EVERYBODY! This was posted exactly one year ago, when I was deep in the middle of shitty 2L finals. Now I’m stuck in shitty 3L finals. Doesn’t time fly?
Okay, I know I said this post would be up last night, but outlining and AHS. So, here it is!
Between December 5th and December 15th, I have three in-class finals and one 24 hour take home final. So, straight hell.
Here’s me in my 24 hour exam, I’m waving to my friends outside:
For the 1Ls who are reading this, finals are a special time during law school where you feel like you’re constantly in Hell. Worse than an 8 AM torts class which you haven’t read for and you’re on call for the whole 90 minutes. Worse than waking up six hours before your memo/brief is due and you haven’t done any research. Worse than completing fucking up a cold call to the point where the professor says that he’ll just let you off the hook, but thanks for trying. If you haven’t caught my drift, it is HORRIBLE.
There are a few things you can do to eliminate some stress during this trying time. Here are some:
- Get 8 hours of sleep a night. I know people who are more productive in the early morning hours but, on the whole, most people are not. Staying up late, or pulling all-nighters may seem fine in the short run, but it’s not worth it. You’ll feel better physically, emotionally you’ll be as empty as any other law student, and mentally you’ll be on point.
- Study hard and start early. Finals are a “who can type the fastest and in the most coherent way” game. The earlier you start studying, the more naturally the material will come to you during the exam. Go over your outline a few times a day. Read it outloud. Write out the parts of your outline that you are having trouble with. Make flashcards for definitions or rules you need to know. If you study better alone, do that until you have a grasp on the material and maybe join a study group. If you study better in a group, make sure everybody has done the outlines and won’t goof off.
- Prioritize your subjects– If you have a closed book exam in your 4 credit Torts class on the 12th, but an open book 2 credit exam on the 7th, make the outline for Torts first and think of the open book second. I know it doesn’t make much sense, but 4 credits is more than 2 and electives don’t really mean much.
- Open book exams are harder than closed book exams– Yes, it’s true. You think your profs are giving you a break by making the exam open, but you’re mistaken. The exam will be harder. Everybody has the advantage of finding the particular word, phrase, rule or holding in the book. Prepare for the exam like it’s closed book. Make a detailed outline, include the rules, certain case holdings, and the definitions. Tab the pages in your book where certain topics begin and end, where key cases are and where the key opinions are. If you have a statute book that’s allowed, tab that, too. It’s all about the little advantages that you’re setting up for yourself, you’ll find the same answer as everybody else, but you’ll get there quicker.
- If you can, take the day of the exam off– If you have 5 days between one final and the next, take the exam day off. You’ll come out of the exam, squint in the sunlight and ask yourself where the past three hours have gone and if you actually just took that exam or if you fell asleep and missed getting ice cream (The Ringer, anybody?). It’s an absolute brain-drain. Literally, I just dump everything I know about a particular subject onto my computer to the point where I leave the exam and won’t be able to find my car because I’m looking for the wrong color car. It’s for the best. Take a nap, have something to eat, DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE EXAM, and take a shower. You’ll feel better physically and mentally after taking a rest.
- Shower– I’m begging you, do not be that person who smells during the exam. Ear plugs are given out but nose plugs are not. If you are so stressed that you can’t find the 15 minutes to bathe (this is coming from a girl who will make up any excuse not to shower), then you are studying wrong. Think of it as a mini-break. Or, if you really feel as if you can’t put down your outline, laminate it and tape it to the shower wall. (*Disclaimer: I have never done that, I’ve never felt like I’ve had to do that, I do not suggest doing that. Mental health plays a huge role during the exam period, don’t fuck it up because you don’t want to stop studying conditions in contracts*)
- Remember your exam number– Otherwise, you’re screwed and have to re-take the exam. Kidding! Kidding! You’ll have a chance once you sit down to find it, it’s usually emailed to you by the registrar, but do you really want to be sweating through all of your layers because you can’t find your exam number and the exam starts in 5 minutes and oh god the scrap paper is almost gone and there’s one box of ear plugs left and that gunner is going in for their second box, “just in case” something happens to their original box? No. Find it early, write it down and relax.
Things to bring during the exam:
Exams are usually about three hours long and, for the most part, start pretty early. If you’re like me, I lose my appetite when I get stressed (#blessed) so here’s what I’ll usually bring with me:
- A couple pens/pencils– Writing is allowed on the exam and on scrap paper they give you.
- A few highlighters in different colors– think one color for facts, one for the issue, one for important directions, etc
- A refillable water bottle– preferably with a straw so I don’t spill on the exam, my scrap paper or my computer
- Coffee, or tea.- Obviously.
- Ear plugs– although these are usually provided by the school
- Tissues– This way, you aren’t getting up every few minutes and you’re being respectful to others around you noise wise.
- Hand sanitizer or lotion– If you’re sick, bring the sanitizer. Getting up every few minutes to wash your hands is a time waster and is distracting to those around you. If you’re not sick, bring the lotion. It can get pretty dry in the room and dry hands are the worst.
- A sweatshirt/scarf – Be prepared in case the room is cold, or warm. Wear layers that you can take off and still feel comfortable in
- If you like, snacks! Think something small which isn’t too noisy to open or chew , and doesn’t require the microwave or utensils to eat. Granola bars, grapes, raisins and string cheese are all good examples.
You can do it! Everybody is going to go through the same feelings of inadequacy, despair, stress and fear. You’ll be fine. Trust me. Even if you get a C-, you won’t have to take that subject ever again (until the bar), but you’re done! Now, once you finish finals, here’s what you can do:
Now go call your mom, tell her what kind of alcohol you like and study! You can do it!