How To Avoid Panicking During Law School Exams
There’s no getting around it – law school exams are alarming at first. You have muscled through a long semester of reading, cold calling, and review. You are probably tired and also very anxious. This is entirely normal. Worrying about how to succeed on your law school exams is only natural. Walking into the unknown of anything is going to be a nerve-racking experience. Your fellow students might have good poker faces, but we guarantee they are panicking during law school exams just as much as you. The good news is, you don’t have to stay panicked! There are many tools and resources available for test anxiety and panic. You will be in great shape if you pair effective exam studying, such as these techniques, with de-stressing methods. We have put together a list of ways you can say goodbye to panicking during law school exams.
How To Avoid Panicking During Law School Exams
1. Utilize School Resources
If your law school offers access to free counseling services, use them! You can often begin counseling for specific concerns and will be paired with a counselor that can best assist you. If you are not ready or interested in going the counseling route, make an appointment with your student affairs office. Your law school’s student affairs office exists for your academic success. This includes providing tools to help with test anxiety. As we said before, you are not alone in your panic, and the law school knows that. They can provide you with a plan of action for your exam studies and anxieties.
2. Outline Early
Outlining early is key for succeeding in your law school exams. Early outlining is also vital for your test anxiety. A lot of panicking during law school exams comes from feeling ill-prepared. So naturally, the sooner you begin your preparation, the more you will alleviate this stress. As soon as you receive your syllabus, take the time to set up each topic/subtopic into a word doc. As the semester progresses, fill in each topic with your (condensed) class notes every week or two weeks. To help get you started, you can find outline tips and a template here. If you are already into your semester, just get started as soon as you can. Any head start is better than none. Then, while many of your classmates are cramming to finish outlines, you will have reading week to take practice tests and memorize!
3. Create a Study Schedule
Organization is priceless throughout the semester, and that does not stop at exams. You will want to take time to create a schedule breaking down studying, practice tests, review, group study, and breaks. Don’t forget, you need to eat and sleep too!
Panicking during law school exams can often originate from feeling all over the place and out of control. By scheduling study times for each course, your mind will become far less chaotic. Scheduling gives you control of your days and assurances that you are covering each subject sufficiently. Plus, there is great satisfaction crossing off a task from your planner once it is finished (also try writing tasks on post-its and crumpling them up once completed – it feels great).
4. Take lots of Practice Tests
Taking lots of practice tests is a great law school exam strategy in general. Furthermore, another big reason for panicking during law school exams is going in blind. You have never taken an exam like this before, and you have no measure of where you stand in the class. This is where practice tests come in!
Most professors will give you at least one copy of a previous exam. Check your library for additional exams and scan as many as you can. Law professors often stick to the same exam structure every year with a variance of questions. Practicing with previous exams will give you a great idea of what to expect on exam day, what to study, and how to finish your test on time.
Lastly, make sure to join a study group you can review exams with too. This allows you to learn answers you may have missed during your practice test.
5. Take a Day Off
Breaks are always necessary, but during review week, you need more than just 20-minute increments. When creating your study schedule, pick a day each week to take it easy. The day you select depends on you. Some people prefer a break at the beginning to distance the semester from exam prep. Others may choose the middle of review to decompress or the day before an exam to wake up refreshed in the morning. As long as you do take a day off, the when does not matter. Much of panicking during law school exams comes from being overly stressed. A day off is a great tool to bring your stress level down and recalibrate your body towards success.
Here are more benefits surrounding taking breaks while studying.
6. Stay Active
Don’t forget to schedule some exercise into your study plan! This can be as simple as taking a walk or something a little more intense, like going for a run. Choose something comfortable and enjoyable for you, but keeps you moving. If you are experiencing a lot of panicking during law school exams, try a relaxing exercise such as yoga or swimming. Physical activity is known to release endorphins and enkephalins, which are your happy hormones. These happy hormones can also help you feel that your daily tasks are more manageable!
Here are 4 ideas for staying fit while studying for law school exams or the bar!
7. Keep Your Friends Close
Stressful moments in our lives are when we need our loved ones the most. Panicking during law school exams can create all kinds of emotions. Keep your friends and family close so that you have a shoulder to hold you up when the time comes to have a cry. Consider calling up your friends and plan to hang out on your day off from studying. Try and find an activity to do that will keep you laughing and smiling. Laughing is incredibly therapeutic, especially during difficult times. Also, don’t forget your law school friends! They are going through many of the same emotions as you and could use a day to decompress. Plus, you won’t have to spend time and energy on any “how is law school going” conversations.
Don’t feel you need to complete each and every one of these suggestions. Just adapting one or two tips will better help you avoid panicking during law school exams. After that, if you feel you need more help de-stressing, try out another tip. Don’t doubt yourself. You made it this far, and with some strategizing, you can finish the semester strong.