You’ve been here before, facing final exam season. Although there are similarities in how you will go about preparing for 2L final exams and the preparation process from 1L year, there are also some differences. The exam curve may be less harsh this year, but you’ll still want to do your best and finish 2L year strong.
Your second year of law school will require you to demonstrate a heightened degree of proficiency in your legal knowledge, reasoning skills and mastery of exam taking strategies. We’re here to help you refine the skills you need to succeed on your 2L final exams. To do so, we’ve gathered a list of some of the final exam formats you might be up against and how you can best prepare.
You’ve got this!
In-class issue spotter exam
First and foremost, prepare like you’re a 1L. Start by finding or creating an outline that covers all the important parts of the course. And don’t forget about BARBRI 2L/3L Mastery, which has ready-to-use course outlines to jumpstart your own and help fill in substantive gaps. If your exam is open book, transform that outline into an attack outline for maximum efficiency.
You’ll also want to make use of your tools and resources to practice. You can use flashcards for memorization and take practice exams to familiarize yourself with the exam style while also refreshing how to spot issues quickly and accurately.
Lengthy multi-part take home exam
Take home exams can feel like a blessing at first glance, but don’t let them fool you. These exams can be brutal. The best way to study is to start with a good outline and attack outline. Because you’ll have access to all of your notes, make sure your outlines and books are organized and easily searchable. For example, add a table of contents to each outline so you can easily navigate it electronically and tab or label your books or electronic readings. Lastly, don’t forget to consider your physical environment and where you’ll want to take your exam. If it’s outside your house, make sure to reserve a spot so you know you’ll have the space you need.
A key to success on paper finals is organization. Organize your research within folders so you can easily find the article you’re looking for when you come to that part of the paper. When conducting your research, create a working “thoughts” sheet where you include the source name, key facts, synopsis of the article and how you plan to use the article.
If the paper is lengthy, set a daily word or page count and stick to it. (Trust us, 30 pages will seem less daunting when they’re broken up into 5 pages daily.) Finally, try to finish your paper early so you can submit it for review either to your professor or to a trusted advisor if permitted.
If public speaking isn’t your strong suit, then practice, practice, practice!! Even if you are comfortable speaking publicly, you should still practice. There are a variety of ways to practice, from presenting in front of a mirror or camera to reciting your work live in front of a friend. Utilize feedback from your friend or watch yourself to ensure you’re standing tall, showing eye contact and not fidgeting. During practice, make sure to also time yourself so you can accurately pace your presentation.
As far as your actual presentation goes, you’ll want to show confidence and have a natural cadence. Avoid the urge to create too specific of a script so you aren’t reading rather than presenting. On the flip side, make sure you’re comfortable with your presentation so you can seamlessly transition from section to section.
A good way to prepare is to create a one-page list of key points that you can quickly reference during your presentation to keep yourself on track and avoid missing important elements. If required or allowed, make a professional-looking presentation with Prezi or PowerPoint. You may also want to consider printing your slides to provide to your professor.
The most dreaded form of final just might be the group project. After all, it requires you to trust someone other than yourself for your final grade. If you get to pick your group, avoid the urge to simply pick your friends. Instead pick your group members based on (a) trust, (b) participation in class, and (c) personality and work style.
Distribute duties early on so there is no confusion over who is doing what and set deadlines for each task. Make sure you leave a grace period between when group members will finish their portion and when the overall project is due to ensure you have time to review and edit.
When it comes to editing, it’s best to assign one person to take on the job for the entire piece. This will help ensure the project appears cohesive. Finally, create a shared folder or Google doc so everyone can share their research and contributions with the group.
Remember to breathe
No matter what exam type you have, don’t forget to take a break from time to time. As exam season approaches, it’s easy to begin to feel overwhelmed and burnt out. Try your best to schedule downtime, even if the break is just one episode on Netflix or a video on YouTube.
A healthy diet and adequate hydration are also important for efficient brain capacity. Likewise, a comfortable atmosphere will help you remain motivated and reduce stress. If you haven’t already, find your ideal study spot or exam taking nook and be sure to dial up something to look forward to beyond exams.