5 Things to Start Doing Now to Prepare For Your 1L Final Exams

By Mike Sims,
BARBRI President

You’ve figured it out already. Most, if not all, of your first-year grades will depend on your performance on your final exams. And, most if not all, of your finals will consist of essay questions….but law school essay questions are different than what you’ve previously experienced.

It’s not about how much law you’ve memorized. Instead, your job is to solve the problem presented in your essay question. You are being tested on your ability to apply the facts to the rules of law you have learned and explain how you arrived at a reasonable solution and solve the problem.

So what should you start doing NOW to learn the material and position yourself well for final exams?

  1. Read the assignments
    • Always try to get the reading done even if it feels like you don’t understand everything (or anything!).
  2. Always go to class – even on the rare occasions that you are unprepared
    • The most important thing is that you learn what the professor thinks the case said – not what you think the case said.
  3. Write down every fact pattern that your professor gives you in class as you go
    • These are all previews for what will likely be on the final exam.
  4. Consistently review
    • Try a daily review – quickly take 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to jot notes about what the professor said was important in class that day while it’s still fresh.
    • A periodic review at the end of every major topic in each course is a must.
      • The end of every roman numeral in the syllabus is an excellent way to gauge the end of a topic.
      • Review your notes and distill all of the information down to a couple of pages. This overall process is often called outlining, but outlining for the sake of outlining is not the goal. Neither is just re-writing all of your notes. The goal is to learn the material.
  5. Do some practice questions
    • Don’t worry too much about the specific number of practice questions you do, but make sure you do some.
      • Most professors have old exam questions on file. With at least one, sit down and write out a full answer – give yourself the same amount of time you’ll have on exam day for that question, get together with friends, read each others’ answers.
      • BARBRI’s 1L Mastery package also includes practice essay and multiple-choice questions to give you additional confidence. If you haven’t already enrolled in 1L Mastery, do so here.
      • If you have questions as you review, take advantage of your professor’s office hours.

Be consistent with these practices and they’ll pay off big time as you approach final exam time.