GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona
Welcome back to the second semester! Congratulations, we are 1/6thof the way to graduation!
The first week of the Spring semester is the perfect time to reevaluate last semester and make changes as needed. Many of you do not have your grades yet, but here is a quick word about that. Grades do not define you. No matter where you landed, top of your class, or at the bottom, this is a fresh new semester. Regardless of your grades (or based on them), you may choose to stay the course, or to course correct. Here are the top the top three questions to ask yourself to see if a change is needed.
Did you know what your professor was looking for?
It is so easy to forget that law school exams are not just about demonstrating your mastery of the topic, but also demonstrating that mastery in the way your professor wants. Most of the people I spoke to from 2L when they thought back on their 1L exams, said writing the exam in the way the professor wanted was the main thing that really distinguished people who received top grades from each other.
When you are reviewing your exam, as yourself if you answered the question in the way the professor wanted you to. For instance, was the answer suppose to be written for a judge or a teenage client? That should have framed the way you wrote your answer. Another way to really make sure you know what your professor is looking for is to go to office hours frequently. I know it can be intimidating, but if you are not sure what to talk about prepare answers to the questions at the end of the cases you read and ask to review those. That will provide you with good insight into what they are looking for.
The earlier you do this, the more likely you will be able to frame your outline in a way that will help you on the final. Speaking of outlines…
Was your outline structured in a way that helped you?
Think about your outline that you used on test day. How could have it been different that would have benefited you. Maybe you wrote your own outline but it was too comprehensive. Or maybe your attack outline was too brief. Or perhaps you just didn’t have time to study from it appropriately. Once you have your grades back, go get your exam, compare it to the model answers provided and then look at your outline. Make notes of what material would have been helpful on your outline. What could have been phrased in a different way?
What is the one thing you wish you had done more or less of?
This will be different from every student. We all have one thing we wish we had done more or less of. When I spoke to students, many said: “study more.” Though, I encourage you to drill that down more and pick one specific thing. Some wish they had played fewer video games or spent more time reading notes of the cases. On the flip side, others wish they had given themselves a day off, as they spent every minute in the library. Some simply wish they had made more friends or taken a bit more time for themselves at the gym. Whatever it is, as yourself this question and make a plan to implement it.
I hope these three basic questions help you to reevaluate last semester and make the changes to make this semester even better! What is one thing you wish you had done more or less of this past semester? Let me know over at the @The1LLife on Twitter or Instagram.