5 Tips for Law Students Entering (Horrors!) Final Exam Season

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on November 05, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As we move into November, we also move into exam season. At many law schools, Thanksgiving will mark the end of regular classes, or very close to it. And after that, final exams are nigh.

Before you get started studying the wrong way, check out these five tips to make sure that you're not wasting your time doing things inefficiently -- or even badly:

1. Use Old Exams.

There's no better way to study for an essay exam than to take that professor's old exams. That way, you'll know what the professor is looking for and how to organize your answer. 2Ls and 3Ls know this, for sure: Not every professor wants things organized the same way. (This is also a sneaky way to substantively study as well, because professors often ask the same things year after year, but in different ways.)

2. Are You Doing Multiple Choice Correctly?

If there's a multiple choice component to your final exam, then you should know how to study for it. Don't blow by a correct answer on a practice test: Make sure you got the right answer for the right reason. If you got the right answer, but have no idea what the legal rule is behind the answer, then basically you got lucky -- and there's no guarantee you'd get the question right a second time.

3. Bury Your Casebook in the Backyard.

Well, unless you need it next semester. Your casebook is largely useless during exam season. It's useful for teaching concepts, but once those concepts are taught, they should be in your notes and then in your outline. And if you have an open-book take-home exam? Forget about it. Use your outline, which we hope you've organized efficiently.

4. Speaking of Organizing ...

If your exam is closed-book, you can also bury your casebook while you study. And, like we said above, make sure your outline is organized into manageable chunks of information. Don't feel like you have to have the whole thing memorized like you were going to perform "Hamlet" the next day. It's enough to know the major concepts.

5. Relax.

As with any law school studying, make it a job -- but a full-time, eight-hour job, not a 16-hour-a-day BigLaw job. Take breaks and don't think you need to cram everything into one day. Resting is a part of studying just as much as going over your outline. You're not going to absorb any information if you're tired.

Do you have any other law school exam study tips to share? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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