1L finals are the ultimate high-stakes exams. The most shocking part of studying for 1L fall finals is reviewing your first case briefs and realizing how much they missed the mark. Your most recent ones are much better.
Follow these Five Rules for 1L Finals and your first set of exam grades may be a pleasant surprise.
Exam Rule One: Designate a study space
If you don’t already have one, created a designated study space that is both comfortable and conducive to serious study. Be honest and ruthless about reducing or (if possible) eliminating distractions, which might include toddlers, teenagers, spouses, non-law-student roommates, random noises, too convenient kitchens, and all forms of electronic activities. Set the rules and follow them.
Because actual elimination of children and spouses are felonies that would torpedo your promising legal career, go to a public library which will have few, if any, distracting law students and might have other amenities. My local public library has Dunn Bros Coffee in the building.
Exam Rule Two: Eat right.
The four food groups are not sugar, fat, salt, and caffeine. Make a meal plan. Take a study break and do some real cooking.
Exam Rule Three: Get regular sleep and exercise.
If you don’t ordinarily study all night, abandoning your sleep patterns to try for all-night cramming is a recipe for disaster because you don’t know how you will react.
Opening the door for the pizza delivery guy is not “daily exercise.” On the other hand, doubling your regular daily workout and imagining that it will help your concentration is delusional.
Exam Rule Four: Review old finals and talk to your professors’ former students.
Law professors often follow exam-writing patterns (short essays, long essays, multiple choice), and they often look for the same things year-after-year. Former students will tell you about professors’ preferences which might include a data dump, an outline dump, mock memos or sample pleadings. Some professors also demand correct spelling and perfectly punctuated and absolutely grammatical sentences and paragraphs. Knowledge is power.
Exam Rule Five: Take practice exams.
Practice exams helped improve your LSAT score, and they will be crucial to your future bar exam study. There is nothing like real-time practice, so do as many practice exams as you can schedule.