Tips for Exam Season

by Ralaya Evans, Law Library GRA

Exam Season can bring anxiety for all law students. There is a lot of pressure and everyone wants to do well. There are a few upkeep actions one can partake in to help ease the nerves surrounding exams.

  1. Sleep is your friend. It can be tempting to wake up super early and stay up late studying and digesting as much information as possible every day. However, this is more harmful than helpful. This can overload your mind and make it hard to retain information. You may find that no matter the ample hours that you are putting into studying, you are not prepared for the exam. Getting the right amount of sleep will make studying more effective and allow you to perform to your best ability on the exams.
  • Take breaks. Studying all day without breaks will also impact your ability to retain information. Mental fatigue will often be the result. Your mind/body will often tell you when you need a break, but during finals we ignore the signs. However, kn­­ow the signs of mental exhaustion so that you can respond appropriately. Pushing yourself too hard will only cause burn out.
  • Set a study schedule and stick to it. Setting a schedule can also help you block out time to study, but to also take a break, eat, do something that you enjoy and more. Sticking to a schedule allows you to accomplish the amount of studying that you want, but also still have a life. A nice balance between the two will be extremely beneficial.

Although taking care of your mental health is key, we must also ensure that we are ready for finals substantively.  To prepare for such information-intensive exams, here are a few tips:

  1. Find your study group. There are many different studying techniques. Some of us share the same techniques for studying and use the same sources such as Quimbee, law library study aids and more. So, it is often a good idea to team up with others and form study groups. Aside from sharing resources and techniques, insight from your fellow classmates can help you see information from a different perspective.
  • Make an attack outline that works for you. It is a good idea to work with your classmates to create a detailed outline of your course to use during the exam. However, it is also extremely helpful to make a more concise “attack outline” that you are more familiar with and comfortable with using during a timed exam. This brevity and familiarity will work to your advantage since it will be so much easier for you to quickly reference during the exam.
  • Go to office hours. Once you reach the point in your studies where you have created your outline, take note on the areas you are still a little fuzzy on and go to that professor’s office hours to see if they can help clear things up for you. The professors are always so willing to help and want you to succeed. So, schedule time with them when needed. Do not choose to suffer in silence or settle for not understanding a topic fully.

Exams are often referred to as the most stressful part of each semester. So, it is important to have the tools to get through the season and feel good about your performance. All of these tips will help to build your confidence for taking the exams.

Spotlight: Mindfulness, Stress Management, and Wellbeing Resources

You may have been thinking about it all semester, but after Halloween, the feeling that something spooky lurks in the future lingers…law school exams. This time coincides with the holiday season, which for many means disrupted routines and extra tasks or responsibilities, not to mention economic stress. This year, we have the added bonus of uncertainty associated with the global pandemic.

In light of all that, perhaps you would like to extend your knowledge about mental health resources available on campus?

The College of Law Mindfulness Program may be one resource of interest. A six-week program, the sessions provide basics about mindfulness meditation and opportunities to practice. The program is set to be accessed on your own schedule.

Another obvious place to start is with the resources available through the Counseling & Testing Center. The Center is open, and wellness programs are virtual.

But don’t fear! The Law Library has resources to support you too. It may be that you can minimize your exam stress by consulting tools like those found in our online study aids collection.

You may be happy to learn that we have other books that might be of interest. We have books on mindfulness, such as The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation, program materials from a continuing legal education session about applying mindfulness meditation in law practice, or Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—And Your Life.

If mindfulness or meditation is not your jam, maybe you would find something like A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress of interest.  Stress Management for Lawyers: How to Increase Personal & Professional Satisfaction in the Law might offer tools and strategies you would find useful.

We have online access to some other titles. For example, Stress at Work Management and Prevention is easily available and offers an overview of stress and how it functions as well as coping strategies. There are a bunch of online books about mindfulness, and you can review the results of this library search to pick the book of your choice. If you’d prefer to change the focus and search for lawyer and anxiety or depression, there are also some books you might find of interest.

If you haven’t heard it before, you can remember that you heard it here: taking care of your mental health will only help you as you work your way through law school and your future career path.