Most of you have completed midterms by this point, if your professor gives them. You are also probably starting to get into study mode for finals.
So, in the Halloween spirit (because it’s my favorite holiday), I’ve decided to give you some treats. Now, while I can’t give candy over the internet, I’ll give you study tips instead.
- Use old exams from your professors. Most professors have these available either online, or through your library. If they are not available, talk to your professor, ask if you can practice with old exams. There might be a good reason why he or she hasn’t made them available, or, perhaps it slipped their mind and your request may impress them! Either way, this is the best way to prepare for your exams. First and foremost, you need to practice your writing. Secondly, using your professor’s old exams will give you a good idea of how they write fact patterns and what they are looking for.
- Use your professors. Go talk to them. Ask for feedback. It is their job. If they were kind enough to give you a midterm or any practice exams, pay attention to the feedback and even ask them to expand. I give my students practice essays before the actual exam, and I always give a great deal of feedback. If your professor does this, thank them and take it seriously. Visit them during their office hours and ask how you can improve. If they don’t give you midterms or practice exams, write something on your own and ask for feedback. They are your best resource, so use them!
- Do not listen to classmates. They might mean well, they might not. Either way, everyone is different, and they don’t necessarily know anymore than you. Just because the guy that sits next to you in Torts spends 12 hours in the library doesn’t mean that will work for you. Everyone has different learning styles, so don’t try to mimic someone else.
- Practice makes perfect. Just like I said in 1, practicing your writing is the best way to prepare. Reviewing outlines and notes will only get you so far. If your professor doesn’t have old exams, find something like LawTutor’s Big Pictures, Little Essays or Examples and Explanations. These are books that have sample hypotheticals and sample answers.
- Learn to apply facts. Learning the law is only the first step. Applying it is the most important step. Take the books I mentioned in 4, or make up fact patterns with your study group, and practice your analysis. The more you do this, the easier I gets. When I was taking constitutional law, I used to meet with my professor and run different fact patterns with her. Not only was it actually fun, but it helped me fine tune my skills. This is what a lawyer does; a client comes in, and gives you facts. You need to then apply those facts to the law. This is also what you need to do on exams.
So, Happy Halloween, and Happy Studying!