Tag Archives: law school

Study tips

9 Dec

Well, I am halfway through my first semester of law school finals, and although I cannot say for sure how successful I will be as a student, I thought I’d share a few of the study tips/strategies that I’ve found most helpful.

1. You’ll get bit more burnt out about everything after each test. So before your first exam, do some serious studying/preparation for your last exam as well as your first.

2. Find the place(s) that are best for you to study and stick with them. For me, I have an oversized chair in my house, a coffee shop a few blocks away, and my local library. Now, I do live a good distance from my school (about 40 miles) but I hated studying in the library. Tried it, got overwhelmed just by the amount of stress, and said never again. I hit up school for review sessions, to go over practice exams, and to take my exams.

3. Realize there are only so many hours that you can study in a day. It’s different for everyone. Be realistic about it. If you’re one who can study 18 hours a day, then maybe you can just study for each exam in the few days before you take it. But if you’re a 6-hour person, you’re going to need a few more days.

4. Don’t push yourself beyond that limit- it increases burnout.

5. Fight burnout by doing things that other normal people do. I go to the gym just about every day and I eat dinner with Mr. Even if we’re only sitting down for 20 minutes and it’s a cereal night, it’s the mental break that matters.

6. Study groups are not for everyone. Don’t feel like you’re at a huge disadvantage if you aren’t a part of one.

7. Doing practice exams is a HUGE advantage. You’ll see how you work under the time constraints, get a feel for the types of questions that your professors ask, and you’ll be developing a skill that is completely separate from what you’re learning. Test-taking is a skill in itself and one that you can only get more skilled at with practice.

8. Give yourself breaks while you’re studying. When I’m doing a decent job of focusing, I’ll give myself 15 minutes for every hour spent studying. If the day isn’t going so well, then 10 minutes every half hour. While it may sound like a waste of time, it keeps me from walking away entirely.

9. I try to limit my coffee to a cup or two in the morning, and then drink tea during the day. Green tea especially keeps me caffinated, but not to the point of a stomach ache or jitters.

10. Get up every morning (including test days) and shower, get dressed. etc. Whatever your morning routine is- stick with it. Make like studying/testing is your ‘job’ and you’re likely to go about it with more diligence than if you’re wearing pajamas and a messy bun or baseball cap.

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Ugh. (Or, Law School Finals.)

5 Dec

I am already over this madness that is law school finals and all of the stress and anxiety that surround it.  (And to you crazy people who study in the library – I cannot imagine why.  The stress in there would totally overtake me.)  I just have to keep reminding myself that in two weeks this will all be over.  (That, and that I did every single bit of my homework this semester.  That helps, too.  It makes me think I’m prepared.  HA!)

Notes are becoming outlines and then color-coded outlines, and then cheat sheets, and they are looked at endlessly.  Practice exams are being taken and ear plugs are being worn.  So are yoga pants, messy buns, and Uggs.  (Oh yes, I went there.)  Every breakfast is cereal or yogurt (less to clean up) and lunches and dinners are sandwiches.  All of them.  I don’t have time to think about anything else.  Two weeks from now this will all be over.

Now I must admit that I was one of those students that ‘just got by’ in undergrad without much effort.  Sure, I did all of my assignments and I studied for tests, but I didn’t do outlines, I didn’t do all of my reading all semester – heck, I didn’t even always go to class.  Not every law student was an intense undergraduate student.  And in case you were wondering, I still managed to do really well in undergrad.

But this is a different ball game.

So I guess that I’ll deal with cereal and sandwiches – and lots of coffee.  And everyone who sees me can deal with my yoga pants and Uggs.  Heck, I have finished an entire semester of law school.  I can do anything.  I am prepared to do this finals thing.  And I’m working hard in the hopes of doing very well, or at least the best that I can.  To the rest of you taking law school finals- and any other finals- we can do this.  Holiday break is almost here.  Finish strong.

 

The final stretch…

27 Nov

I seriously cannot believe that my first semester of law school is (finally) coming to an end.  At times, this semester went incredibly fast.  At others, the amazing amounts of stress and work made it feel like it was creeping by at barely a snail’s pace.

In about three weeks, I will only have five semesters of craziness left to go.  Right now I cannot see the light at the end of that tunnel.  I can barely see anything, after staring at my computer screen for hours upon hours whilst making outlines and re-reading cases.

My days are scheduled to the hour right now, and my calendar is col0r-coded based on what subject I should be reviewing each hour.  I had a glass of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and then swore off alcohol until after finals.   I try to make the gym every day, at least for a quick run, so I can sleep better at night.  Coffee is my new best friend.  Housecleaning will have to wait until after finals (or the week of finals, when I need a distraction)

But this is just a stage of life.  Thankfully, a three-week stage.

November goals

3 Nov

I cannot believe that it is already November. Even our classes end and finals are held in December, I really feel like this is the last month of my first semester of law school. Ahhh! Cue panic, like now!

Anyway – at least there are a few wonderful things that I’m looking forward to in November:
Spending a weekend with one of my best friends. We try to get together about once a season – and haven’t decided whether I’m going to her or she’s coming to me. Both sound awesome right now.
THANKSGIVING. I love it. Totally tops Christmas in my book.
Christmas shopping. While our Christmas is less focused on gifts and more focused on getting together with family, we’ve started a Christmas tradition of our own. We each put together our shopping lists and ideas and head out to a local mall to knock all of our shopping out at once. Afterwards, we pick a chain restaurant at said mall (we never eat at chain restaurants) and enjoy a lunch or dinner and some serious people watching.

There are some not-so-fun things that come along with November:
The dentist. Enough said.
Stress of impending exams
Career services. I’ve been enjoying the 1L bliss that goes along with not being able to be in contact with career services. That all changes come November and I think that it will be quite stressful.
Winter. UGH.

And because I’m a totally goal-oriented person, I’ve come up with a few goals that I’d like to accomplish in November as well.

Fitness:
Complete each week of Couch-2-5k
Attend 3 group classes at my gym
Lose five pounds. This should probably happen before Thanksgiving, where I will likely eat it all back.

School:
Stay level-headed in the stressfulness
Properly edit my resume to reflect my student status
Take one weeknight off from studying each week.
Solidify my outlines before Thanksgiving holiday.

Misc:
Stick to our budget
Plan a December soiree? (Still up in the air- I’m not sure if our apartment is totally party-ready yet)

Start your class outlines early!

23 Oct

Yes, it’s October, and yes- I’m already starting my outlines for my final exams.  As a midterm, I was forced to begin an outline for one of my classes.  (That is some hand-holding that I will gladly take; I appreciate the fact that we were required to turn our outline in because it made all of us at least start to work on it.)

One of the reasons that I am starting now is because I want to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving.  I think that your average American law student does the bulk of his/her outlining over their Thanksgiving holiday.  While I do plan to do some work over the weekend, I don’t want to be attached to my computer at all times.  I want to be able to enjoy all of the festivities that everyone else is – and then just sneak away during the relaxing times for an hour or two of outlining/reading.

I am hoping that my outlines are enough to prepare me for finals.  At the suggestion of a 3L, I’ve been putting together ‘reviews’ of my classes every few weeks.  After midterms I also started taking much more detailed reading notes.  Doing that helped me feel more prepared for class, which helped me (at least I think) get more out of each class.

October goals

10 Oct

Okay- I realize that this post is coming a good 1/3 of the way through October…but let me tell you, that is illustrative of my October thus far.

Midterms, writing assignments, and the panic of first semester exams seems to all come to a head in October.  While December and its exams are surely going to be stressful, we have the end of the month to relax and do nothing but consume copious amounts of alcohol/Christmas cookies/delicious foods – pick your poison.  Whatever you choose, students are rewarded for their efforts at the end of a semester with a long and relaxing break.

The same cannot be said for the midway point in the semester.  While my #1 goal is to keep as de-stressed as possible, I have a few other things that I would like to accomplish this month.  I figured that if I put them here for the world to see, I might have a decent shot at achieving at least some of them:

  • survive midterms (no, I do not have them in all of my classes) and all of the writing assignments due
  • begin end-of-semester outlines for each of my courses
  • lose 5 pounds
  • organize for Christmas: decoration ideas, gathering plans, trips home and other travel, and gift ideas.  I am a big believer in finishing all of my shopping by mid-November.
  • use our slow cooker at least once each week
  • paint our bedroom and hang photos
  • complete the Couch-2-5k each week

Happy Friday

7 Oct

Right now, all I want to do on here is bemoan how difficult law school is and point out the fact that I am ready for first semester to be over. Instead, I think that I’ll leave some happier thoughts for a Friday:

• Congratulations to all of you who survived the LSAT –no, it’s not fun, and no, one test doesn’t determine everything. But quite often, preparing for that test shows someone how hard s/he can work at something. You’ll need that skill when you do start law school.
• I’ve lost about eight pounds since starting law school and I’m pretty excited about that! It’s not a lot of weight, but it’s an actual start to something, and because I carry all of my weight in one area, I actually can see a difference.
• Fall is really and truly here! I love the changing of seasons, and especially all of the stunning color on the trees.
• We’re taking a weekend away at the end of October. Hiking, pumpkin-patching, and chili-eating, here we come.
• We have finally gotten all of our moving-in tasks completed and the apartment now feels like ours.
• Meal planning is going well and our grocery bills are steadily decreasing.