Tackling Finals


Tackle — To set about dealing with.”
-Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

I’m knee deep into finals (three down, two to go) so I thought I’d give you an overview of how I approach taking exams.  I have a typical way of approaching my exams, but as with any of my posts, find what works for you and stick with it.  This is a similar way that I approached taking exams in college as well.

1.    Update Exam Software.  So this definitely seems like the easiest step on the list, but it’s probably one of the most important.  At my school, we take our exams on software that locks us out of going onto our computers or the Internet, unless it is an open book exam.  I’m definitely the person who gets an email right before exams starts to remind me that I haven’t updated my exam software.  So don’t be like me and update your software early so you don’t get to the exam and realize you haven’t updated it yet.

2.    Prepare for Your Exam.  Okay, okay.  You’re in law school so you know the importance of studying, but sometimes, it helps just to have it on your list of things to do so you can check it off and feel accomplished.  If you want to see how I outline and prepare for exams, check out this post and this post!

3.    Get into the Mindset.  I’m a big proponent of the dress well, test well mentality.  So while everyone else is coming to finals in leggings and a tshirt (which is my normal class go-to wear), I try to look nicer and put some effort into my outfit.  I also feel that it helps me feel good about myself even if I feel that the exam didn’t go my way.  I also like to relax as much as I can the morning of an exam.  I wake up early enough so I have time to actually eat breakfast in my apartment and not on my way to school and so that I can look over any last minute questions that I have regarding the exam.  That means I also pack my laptop and exam materials the night before the exam so I’m not rushing to get everything together.

4.    Tune Out the World and Tune Into the Exam.  When I study or am reading for class, I always have to have some background music or I find it to be too quiet.  However, exams are a whole different situation.  Noise from the other people who are taking exams didn’t bother me in college, but that’s because we all physically wrote our exams on paper.  Now that exams are typed in law school, I cannot stand the sound of other people’s typing, which is weird to hear from me since I type pretty loud and actually like the sound when I’m the only one typing.  However, put 50+ people in one room frantically trying to purge their entire outline into an exam answer, and I would go crazy.  Luckily, my school provides us with disposable earplugs, which are my lifesaver.  Put those babies in and the only thing I can hear is my own breathing, which is kinda weird but definitely puts me in a focused mindset.  I’d definitely recommend checking with the registrar or whoever administers your exams to make sure it’s allowed, but seriously, they are a huge lifesaver.

5.    Attack the Exam.  Opening an exam makes my adrenaline kick in and sometimes causes me to forget everything I learned all semester.  To alleviate some of this stress, I like to look at the whole exam in the beginning and mark the questions that I might have to come back to later.  This allows me to not waste time floundering for an answer that might come to me based on the answers to other questions.  It also gives me some momentum once I can figure out easier questions.  For multiple choice exams, it’s pretty easy to do this.  For essay exams, I like to go over all of the essays and spot every issue that I can find in the fact pattern by taking notes in the margin of the exam.  I then decide which of the essays I feel will be easiest to write and write that one first.  One thing I think is the most important when you take any exam is to review your answers whether it’s checking to make sure you input your multiple choice answers correctly or to check to see if you have any typos.

6.    Relax and You Did It!  After all of that, you’ve finished your exam!  Don’t let attempting to check your answers with others or your outline crush how good it feels to have finished the exam.  That’s such an accomplishment that you’ve gotten through a law school exam because they’re hard and you’ve been studying all semester for it.  When I finish an exam, I truly love to relax and clear my mind.  I typically spend the rest of the day napping, watching Netflix, etc.  If I have another exam within the next two days of the exam that I just finished, I typically spend some time that night reviewing my outline.

Congrats on making it this far in the semester!  You’re almost done with the semester so finish strong.  I definitely find that law school is harder than any other schooling because you go through the whole semester without a lot of stress, besides writing assignments, and then bam, it’s five finals in the course of nine days and you’re exhausted.  I have major props for anyone who can survive this, which you will!

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