As a recent graduate from Temple Law I can still remember exam season very well. As the Thanksgiving break approached my days were filled with stress and anxiety because I knew exams were right around the corner. But I got through it and so will you! Here are some techniques that got me through exam season.
Find out where you do your best work.
Now is a good time to scope out the place where you want to hunker down for exam season. It’s about this time of year that I would move from the alleyways in the Klein Library to the stacks where no one could find me. I always did my best work in the library, where there were minimal distractions. However, for some the library becomes too stressful during exam season so working from home or a coffee shop is another great option. If you are meeting with study groups keep in mind there are rooms in Barrack you can reserve on the library website.
Figure out which method of studying works best for you.
Outlines, flowcharts, and flashcards are all great options for learning and retaining class material. However everyone has a different learning style and methods that work some won’t work for others. Between class notes, textbooks and hornbooks it’s sometimes difficult to know where to devote your time when studying. Personally I was a fan of rereading cases and then reviewing my notes from class to see what points the professor had highlighted. After I had typed up my takeaways from the textbook and class notes I would spend 2-3 days before the exam boiling down the outline into a handwritten diagram. It might be hard to know what methods will help you best until you try a few of them. There is enough time now to try a few methods and figure out what you like best. The most important thing is to do what you need to in order to feel comfortable with the material and prepared for the exam.
Plan your exam season.
There is a lot going on right now between LRW papers, final trials and exams so its important to stay organized. I found it helpful to print out a calendar and plan out my exam schedule. I would write in which days I has exams and I would write down exactly what topics I wanted to cover on any given day. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by exams, but by breaking the next month or so down into individual days can be really helpful and it makes the whole process feel more manageable. After I planned out my calendar I knew exactly what I needed to accomplish each day in order to be prepared. Remember to leave time to review your outline and to take practice exams. I always found it helpful to have my outlines finished a few days early so that I could take a practice exam with my outline, that way when test day comes you know exactly where to turn for the information you need.
Make some time for things other than studying, that includes sleep!
It’s important to take breaks, and its even better if those breaks can be something enjoyable. Make some time to do that will help you decompress, whether it be going to the gym, taking a walk, watching TV or eating dinner some place other than the library. Breaks help to avoid burnout and makes study days a little more bearable. Also make sure you remember to sleep! Sleep is so important for memory and retention so make sure you don’t cut sleep out of your life.
Stay calm and positive.
I am a firm believe that attitude is everything in life, and a positive attitude can work wonders. I know that exams are daunting and there are days where you would rather be anywhere other than the library, but it is important to keep a positive attitude. A negative attitude will only waste precious energy that is needed for other things. It’s also important to stay calm, which I know is sometimes hard to do. I shed my fair share of tears in the library. But if you start to feel overwhelmed I found it helpful to step away for a bit and get some fresh air. Don’t forget there are support systems all around the Law school to help you out. If you need help with the material don’t be afraid to reach out to Professors. I have always found they are more than willing to help!