How to Prepare For Law School Finals: Law school finals are right around the corner. In order to reduce you stress it is important that you give yourself sufficient time to study and that you study efficiently. Below are some tips to help you prepare for law school finals so you can do your best on exam day!
How to Prepare For Law School Finals
1. Don’t make the mistake of losing the forest for the trees.
What does this mean exactly? Don’t get so caught up with your cases and case briefs that you forget to see the bigger picture. Here, the bigger picture consists knowing how all concepts you’ve covered in your class operate together. Each case that you read offers a tiny piece of the puzzle. However, one single case will not tell you everything you need to know about what constitutes a valid agreement, what defenses are available, etc. Law school exams test your ability to spot many different issues in one fact pattern and apply the law you’ve learned to those facts in order to reach a well-reasoned conclusion. To this end, focus on the black letter law rather than the cases!
2. Make sure you know the black letter law.
To give yourself the best chance on exam day, it is imperative that you learn the black letter law. For example, if you are reviewing false imprisonment, make sure you can define it (e.g., (1) a defendant acts with the intent to confine or restrain plaintiff to a bounded area; (2) actual confinement occurs; and (3) plaintiff knows of or is hurt by confinement). But also make sure that you understand how the rule operates (e.g., Plaintiff will not succeed on a claim for false imprisonment if he or she had a reasonable means of escape). In other words, be aware of any limitations and/or exceptions to the rule.
Remember that law school exams tend to test the gray areas!
You might be asking yourself how to determine what the black letter law is. You can start off by consulting notes that you took in class as well as any slides or handouts that your Professor distributed. If you are still unclear about the law after looking at these resources, or if you generally find your notes unhelpful, it is a good idea to consult supplements that clearly state what the law is. Some supplements that are particularly useful include the Examples and Explanations Series, Gilbert Law Summaries, and the Emanuel Law Outlines.
3. Organize the black letter law in an outline so you can learn and memorize it.
Many students are intimidated by outlining. However, you cannot let your fear of outlining stop you! If you are unsure of where to begin, take a look at our posts on outlining (we have an in-depth guide to outlining, how to outline using diagrams, tips on how to learn your outline, where you can find outlines from your professor’s class online, etc.). Keep in mind that no one ever turns in their outline for a grade. No will see how you organized your outline, what font you used, what colors you used and the like. You are evaluated based on the answers that you write on exam day. The only purpose of the outline is to help you learn the law. It is best to organize your outline in the order that your professor covered different issues. Check your syllabus for additional guidance.
Once you have your outline, learn it! It is not enough to simply have an outline–you need to know the black letter law well enough to be able to answer tricky exam fact patterns on it!
4. Practice applying the law to fact patterns.
The best way to gear up for exam day is by doing as many practice questions as you can. If your professor has released past exams, take the time do them! Equally important, compare your answer to any model answers or grading rubrics that your professor provides. This is also an excellent way to see whether your outline has the information you need. Is your outline missing any concepts or are your rule statements incomplete? If so, add the necessary information to your outline. If your professor has not released any practice exams, see if you can get a hold of exams on the same subject written by other professors at your law school.
As you review your answers, you may discover that you are a bit fuzzy on how to define or apply a legal concept. Don’t simply hope that these issues won’t show up on exam day! Take the time to consult your legal supplements and ask your professor questions.
And don’t forget to practice your exams under timed conditions! You don’t want to beat yourself up for not getting through the entirety of your final exam because you lost track of time.
If you are looking for advice concerning law school exams, check out some of our other blog posts. We have detailed guides on how to take a law school exam and how to take law school practice exams. To access all of our posts on law school exams, take a look at our archived posts.
Do not wait until the week before or the night before the exam to begin studying! By starting now, you will give yourself the time to learn the necessary legal concepts and the time to practice applying the law to different fact patterns. Learn how to prepare for law school finals now so that you won’t be caught off guard on exam day!