With law school final exams around the corner, we have many students asking us about the best way to study for law school exams. In this post, I (Ashley Heidemann) give you tips that helped me graduate as the #1 law student in my class of over 200 students.
Here are five tips to help you study for law school exams in the best way possible.
The Best Way to Study for Law School Exams
1. Come up with your exam study schedule and start early if possible!
Here, we have a post on how to craft your law school final exam study schedule. You should focus on a class (or two) a day. Do not plan on focusing on all of your classes every day.
Your study schedule should focus on: (1) memorizing your outlines and (2) taking practice exams. (We discuss this below!) Do not reread cases, engage in study groups if they do not focus on one of those two things, or otherwise waste your valuable study time!
If you are reading this early, try to start a little early. Finish up your outlines, start memorizing, and work on your most difficult class ahead of time. (That way, you will breathe a little easier walking into the exam study period!)
2.Learn the rules using your learning style.
The best way to learn the rules is by memorizing your law school outlines (which, if you haven’t made, you should start making them now!). If you are just starting to review your outlines now, just focus on the black letter law. (Do not focus on cases!) Check out this post for different ways to learn your law school outlines.
Use your learning style to your advantage! If you are a visual learner, which many law students are, color-code your outlines, re-write them, and use charts, diagrams, etc. (Do not join a study group unless you find them helpful!). If you are an auditory learner, repeat your outlines aloud, consider joining a study group, and use auditory devices to aid memorization, such as rhymes or mnemonics.
3. Take practice exams!
The importance of law school practice exams cannot be overstated! Take as many practice exams as you can. Start with your professor’s exams, then (if you need more) go to google to search for exams. Remember to compare your answer to the model answer. This is how you improve.
The more practice exams you take, the better prepared you will be. Learning the rules well will help you become a “B” student. Practicing law school exam questions ahead of time is the key to becoming an “A” student. Here is an excellent post explaining how best to use practice exams!
4. Focus on what the professor says.
A lot of professors say “everything is fair game.” And yes, it’s true, technically anything in your thousand-page casebook could appear on the exam. But it doesn’t. Remember: Your professor writes the exam. Your professor will test on what they talk about during class. Focus on your class notes when you study. Also, make sure to attend any review sessions as sometimes your professor will give you additional hints about what they care about (and what they don’t care about!) Stop focusing on the nuances of cases that your professor probably doesn’t care about and instead, study in the most efficient way possible by focusing on your class notes. You have limited time so you may as well spend it wisely.
5. Take breaks and be healthy.
A lot of people roll their eyes at this tip, but it is very important! To make the most of your studying, take short breaks every hour or so (it may vary). Then take longer breaks every three or four hours. Your brain cannot work productively for eight hours in a row. Be realistic. The key to studying efficiently and retaining information is to incorporate breaks into your schedule.
The same goes for sleep, exercise, and healthy meals. If you try to study with little sleep, little exercise, and meals of poor nutrition, you will not only feel bad but you will not be able to focus, retain information, or think analytically. To put yourself in the best position to pass the exam, take care of yourself!