How to Survive an Exam When You’re Completely Unprepared
We’ve all been there. We procrastinated. We assumed the material would become clearer in the morning. We spent more time on something than we needed. Or, we simply made a tradeoff, robbing Peter to pay Judas. In the end, it blew up in our faces.
And now we face that day of reckoning. You’re behind your classmates. The clock is ticking and the pressure grows. You’ve dug yourself out before, but now you wonder if your luck has finally run out.
Chances are, a few of your classmates are panicking or have accepted their fate. If you’re looking to salvage what’s left, here is some sound advice from the Law School Toolbox’s Alison Monahan to help you squeak by:
1) Read Your Course Syllabus Carefully: “The course syllabus defines the outer limits of the knowledge you might possibly need to acquire, and gives you a roadmap of the major issues you can expect to encounter on an exam. Therefore, it behooves you to become very familiar with it, right now.”
2) Gather Old Exams and Answers for This Course / Professor: “…This is slightly controversial, but I think you should read through all of the exams you can find (reserving only the most recent one as a final practice test) before you start studying. Why? Two reasons. One, you need to know what’s typically tested, so you know where to focus your study time. Two, sample answers are a fantastic place to get the black letter law, expressed as your professor likes to see it. When you start studying, you can return to the sample answers for the rule statements you need (versus pulling generic ones from a commercial outline or hornbook).”
3) Make a List of All Major Factual Scenarios: “Again, this seems counterintuitive, but it can help you focus on the most important parts of the law, versus getting bogged down in the details that don’t really matter… Don’t go overboard here — you’re looking for major things.”
For additional scenario-based study strategies, click here.
4) Formulate a Plan to Analyze Each Scenario: “This is the meat of your studying, and you’ll likely need to consult a hornbook or commercial outline to help you out. For each scenario, you want a step-by-step guide to exactly what questions you need to address for a full analysis. Include major cases, etc. but focus on the black letter law you’ll be applying. Flowcharts which reference specific cases or statutes can be very helpful.”
For additional strategies (and more detail on the ones listed above), click on the link below.
Source: Law School Toolbox
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