Quotes to get you Through Finals

quotes

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way, 2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Motivational Quotes

My Littleton fellow in 1L (a type of student teacher and mentor at my school) began our first class by having each of us say one motivational quote. When 1L exams came around our “class mom” printed the quotes and gave one to each of us as motivation to make it through finals. Since 1L I’ve learned that sometimes you really do just need that little extra motivation to get you through.

With that in mind, here are some motivational quotes to get you through finals! Write them on your mirror as a reminder, text them to a friend in law school as a pick me up, or use them as a catchy caption for your finals Instagram posts.

“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere 
with what you can do”
—John Wooden
“There’s a light at the end of every tunnel”
—Ada Adams
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. 
The most certain way to succeed is always 
to try just one more time”
—Thomas A. Edison
“You’ve got to get up every morning with determination 
if you’re going to go to  bed with satisfaction”
—George Lorimer
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. 
You have exactly the same number of hours per day 
that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, 
Michelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, 
Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein”
—H. Jackson Brown Jr.
“Your positive action combined with 
positive thinking results in success”
—Shiv Khera
“The best way to finish an unpleasant
task is to get started”
—Anonymous
“School is tough, but so are you”
—Anonymous
“Don’t stress, do your best and forget the rest”
—Tony Horton
“You are so close to the victory, don’t you 
dare give up now”
—Anonymous
“If you believe in yourself anything is possible”
—Miley C

Spring Finals Coming In Hot: Useful Lessons Learned From Last Time

The spring semester of your first year is flying by incredibly fast. You’re at a point now when another set of final exams are on the radar, approaching rapidly. What you need to do is take the time to pick your own brain: latch onto those study habits and tips that worked best for you from the first go-round of finals back in the fall semester.

With that in mind, here are a few of the things you may have learned already on you own and other recommendations as you prep for May.

Look To Those Who Have Outlined Before You

For most law students, the process of outlining is not all that fun. Usually because most wear out their keyboards and highlighters, ending up with way too many pages. It’s hard to scale back, especially when everything seems important enough not to leave out. This typically happens when you start from scratch, so don’t. Instead, try to get your hands on a course outline from an upperclassman. (Remember, the answer is always no if you don’t ask. What have you got to lose?) It will provide guidance on what to put in your own outline. Also, it can help clear up substantive confusion and fill any gaps in the material. Remember, too, if you have access to BARBRI 1L Mastery outlines, those are a great resource of prepared outlines vetted by experienced subject matter experts.

Use Old Final Exams: The Past Is the Key To The Future

Check to see if your law school has copies of old final exams on file. If they do, use them. Sure, professors may toss a change-up any given semester on what they’ll cover or how they present questions. Yet, spending time with the old exams can help you get familiar, or even spot patterns, with their techniques. It will also test your knowledge of subjects while you are studying. Bring your practice answers to a professor or T.A. for feedback and guidance. Should your school not have old exams available, look to supplements. Many have problems in them. BARBRI 1L Mastery’s online practice questions are a convenient alternative to lugging around a book and provide answers immediately.

Start Early, Start Early, Start Early

That’s not a typo. You’ll come across this advice often. You’ll make a mental note several times throughout the year. Best intentions and all. Start studying “yesterday.” You really don’t want to cram for a final exam. The risk is too great. First year law school grades are too important. Sounds like a no-brainer; however, starting early with your finals prep is definitely easier said than done. Here’s what you can do about it: Create a study schedule or some other type of plan that works for you. Be honest with how you organize your time. Be disciplined in following through. And be sure to build in activities that aren’t spelled s-t-u-d-y … go work out, watch some t.v., hang with friends.

Keep your sanity … stay on top of studying … and you’ll Own 1L Finals!

All those small, yet vital, things to do during 2L finals prep

It’s November. Classes are almost over. Final exams are close now.

This semester really flew by. By now, you should have your outlines complete and study questions ready. It is obvious that you should work on memorizing the rules and how to apply them, but what else should you be doing to prepare for exams?  Here are a few suggestions.

  • Keep track of your study hours. This may sound a little crazy, but it is helpful to hold yourself accountable. There are a few ways to do this. You can write down the amount of hours you will study on a calendar. This is a good idea so that you do not schedule anything else during that time. You could also create a spreadsheet to track the amount of time you studied and to track what material you studied. By writing down the amount of hours that you studied, you are able to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment after finals are over. This may also help to create efficient study habits for other exams or even for the bar exam. This is also great practice for the future when you will be billing clients.
  • Ask questions. This is pretty self-explanatory. It is so important to ask questions while you are studying because you do not want to memorize the incorrect rule. So go to your professor’s office hours, shoot them an email or bounce questions off of your friends.
  • Find a study method that works for you. It is pertinent to determine the best study method early on in law school. You may find that studying in a large group is helpful. Or you may find that you like the complete opposite. You may like studying with one, or two, other people because it’s helpful to ask questions. However, it is incredibly easy to get distracted when studying with others, so make sure you try to stay on track.
  • Find a study area that works for you. As important as it is to find out what the best study method is, where you study is almost equally as important. Studying at your house or apartment may be convenient, but it may be full of distractions such as roommates, pets or T.V. You may like studying in the library, a coffee shop or somewhere else where you can zone in and optimize productivity. This could take some trial and error, but by this time in the semester, you should have a few options to use if your main spot is unavailable.
  • Sleep. This cannot be emphasized enough. All-nighters have a bad rap and for good reason. You will retain much more information if you have a decent night of sleep. It is so, so, so important to give your brain a rest from rules and cases.

Healthy fear as the great motivator for final exam success

GUEST BLOG Harrison Thorne, Esq.
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2016
Associate Attorney at Vedder Price

I usually became a nervous wreck around finals. My nerves were a mix of fearing the final exam and comparing myself to others.

Fearing a test is good. Healthy fear will motivate.

However, what is not good is measuring your knowledge against others.

I found that most people gave off an air of knowing everything about every course. My classmates would talk about how they had various topics “down cold” or how they “know that subject like the bank of my hand,” etc. In response, I became extremely nervous. My thinking turned into a checklist of concerns and doubt:

  • Everybody knows everything
  • I don’t know everything
  • Classes are graded on a curve
  • I know less than everybody else
  • I will fail

My saving grace was that, as time passed and finals neared, I worked hard and disconnected from that defeatist mindset. I actively pushed those thoughts down when they came up. And they came up a lot! What I found was that I was not as “dumb” as I thought and I could write a decent law school exam. I also found that the people who felt as I did tended to psych themselves out and under-perform.

My advice to my past self or anyone else about to take their first set of final exams is as follows:

  • Acknowledge the fear. Exams are scary. Especially the first time around. There is no point in denying that fact.
  • Use that fear. Fear can be a great motivator.
  • Come up with an “attack plan.” Get a calendar or download an app and set up a daily to-do list to keep track of what needs to get done.
  • Get it done. Now that finals are coming up, this is the time to put your head down and grind out work.
  • Never, ever, ever compare yourself to others. In fact, it’s probably best to avoid other law students as much as possible at this point. There will be a desire to ask other students what they’re doing, how they’re outlining, what practice exams they have taken. DO NOT do this. Focus on your well thought out and designed attack plan.
  • Use Tools. While everybody else is nervously Googling study aids, thumbing through E+E’s or checking out secondary sources, use no-nonsense tools like BARBRI 1L Mastery and 1L Mastery Pro.

 As an example, here’s a glimpse of how I planned one of my final exam prep days:

6:00: wake up1:30-3:00: Study
6:15-7:30: gym3:30-5:00: Class
7:30-8:15: shower/breakfast/
check emails
5:30-7:00: Study
8:15-10:30: Study7:00-7:30: Dinner
10:30-11:00: zone out, check emails, whatever7:30-9:30: Study
11:00-1:00: Study9:30-10:00:
Pleasure Reading
(never give this up!)
1:00-1:30: Lunch

 

Tools for “Mastery” of Your 1L outlines

October means crunch time.

As you flip the calendar, take note of the time between now and finals week. In about six weeks, you’ll need to have reached your highest level of learning, memorization and organization. That’s not a simple task.

Enter the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package.

If you haven’t already, it time to begin your outlines. (So how do you go about outlining, you ask?) This is where 1L Mastery helps tremendously. Starting to outline is like writers block. You stare at a blank Word document for 20 minutes. Literally. When you sign up for 1L Mastery, however, you get instant access to ready-to-use first-year course outlines — great examples that show you how to organize your own materials and even fill in a few blanks (substantive gaps) you may have missed in class or from your readings. Writers block conquered.

 

And the practice questions.

1L Mastery also has multiple-choice black letter law practice questions for every 1L subject. You can gauge your understanding of a topic without setting aside hours to complete. It’s an ideal way to supplement the other types of learning and it can help identify areas where you may need to spend more time. Just finished “offer and acceptance” in Contracts? Take a few practice hypotheticals to help identify when a contract has been formed.

The more hypotheticals you practice, the better prepared you will be when the final exam comes. Those first semester grades are so critical. You need all the material you can to succeed and stand out among your peers. Having access to the plethora of exam questions in the 1L Mastery Package is one its biggest advantages.

You’ve already completed a third of your first semester of law school. It’s zooming by. And things speed up even more. Feel comfortable knowing you have 1L Mastery outlines, practice questions (and video lectures) to back up your learning.

How can you stand out in your law school class? Be a “1L Master.”

Simple 2L outlines now, more time to memorize later

We’ve been down this familiar road before: Outlining. While it isn’t all that fun (you don’t say), it is without a doubt important and you need to start now.

We’re approaching that halfway marker for this 2L fall semester (wow, already!) and it’s time to start outlining once again. Yes, you should start now. And by “now,” this actually means you probably should have begun a few weeks ago. That’s okay. You haven’t suddenly reached a state of emergency. … yet. It’s October. But December will be here in the blink of an eye. If you have your second-year course outlines started (or finished within the next month), you’ll be way ahead of the game. That’s exactly where you want to be.

It’s an ambitious effort, considering the hustle-and-bustle of 2L year. Yet it all goes back to paving the way for success on final exams. Always keep that in mind as motivation. With outlines ready by mid-November, you’ll have extra time to learn and memorize everything in those outlines, instead of trying to figure out what you should put in and what you should leave out.

Looking back on 1L year, you probably tried to make your outlines as comprehensive as possible. You were a new law school student: focused, determined and hard-working. That everything -must-go-in (afraid-to-leave-anything-out) approach may have worked well during the fall semester and your first set of final exams, but maybe not as effectively for the spring semester. It’s easy to get bogged down by the details and random facts from cases.

Knowing what you know now, cut back on the minutia this 2L year. Attack the outlining process with the discipline to keep them short, simple and to the point.   

Instead of focusing on all of the details from each case, focus on the important plot pieces from the case. Learn the rules rather than the random details about the opinion. Memorize and understand the black letter law. During finals time, you won’t be rushing to creating outlines; you’ll be able to review them.

Also, when you start outlining early (translation: now), you will have enough time to leverage supplements (don’t hesitate to consult commercial outlines like those available with BARBRI’s 2L/3L Mastery), professors and classmates if you have any questions.

#The1Llife: 1L Exam Reflection

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Today I’ll be talking about the most dreaded 1L topic …. exams!

Being early January I can officially say I’ve survived my first semester exams, so there’s that. Now while I anxiously await grade disbursement in late January I have the time to reflect on the overall experience… so here it is.

The first word that comes to mind when I reflect on exam month is “EXHAUSTING.” Although I had roughly five plus days between each exam, spending an entire month studying takes a lot out of you. First, your schedule is completely thrown. Instead of waking up and going to class like your body is used to, suddenly you’re spending days on end in the same PJ’s, hardly eating, and staying up late because you’ve convinced yourself those extra two hours of studying will be your saving grace. The second word that comes to mind is “BRUTAL!” After studying for essentially 17 hours a day for a week the time finally comes when you have to actually write your exam. You think you’re prepared and feel slightly confident by that time, right? Hopefully, but nearly everyone I know left the exam feeling roughly ten shades worse than when they’d entered regardless of how confident they felt upon entering.

Even if you typed until your fingers cramped, and felt like you understood the questions, there’s still the understanding that you’re graded on a curve, so no matter how well you did it all comes down to how well the person next to you did… which is heartbreaking. Furthermore, there’s the pressure of how to study “correctly” and the shame that comes along with that. For me, I’ve always favored solo studying, however, many preferred group studying which left me feeling like maybe I was missing out. Then there was the question of flash cards vs. note review, along with the number of practice exams to take.

Now, what did I find actually helped me during this whole process? First off, I personally believe that no matter how much you study, or whether your exam is open book or closed book, you will still leave feeling slightly worse than when you entered. Law school exams are designed (in my mind) to cut you short. Teachers want you to prioritize the larger claims over the smaller ones, but that doesn’t change the fact that when the exams end you’ll be left wondering if the claims you picked were the right ones, or regretting the fact that you couldn’t type that much faster so you could write that one extra claim down. My only advice regarding that is to take practice exams. My first torts practice exam I essentially word vomited on a page, it was unorganized and I missed a lot of claims because I was too busy defining little things. After three more practices, I got used to the time limit, understood better how to read the questions, and just overall had better control over my nerves so in the end, my essay came out coherent, organized, and well distributed between the claims.

The most helpful tool however actually came in the form of the 1L BARBRI Mastery Program videos. To be honest I only used these for Civil Procedure after quickly realizing I knew nothing about the subject, cried, and determined I would just have to teach myself in the five available days. In hindsight I wish I had watched the videos for all my courses, because truly I cannot say it enough – THE BARBRI VIDEOS ARE LIFE-SAVING! If it weren’t for those Civ Pro videos myself, and probably most of the 1L class at Penn would have walked into the exam saying “what is Erie” … “subject matter what?”

To summarize, my main advice is:

(1) take some time to rest or you will burn yourself,

(2) study the way you feel comfortable studying and do not waste time feeling guilty about it,

(3) watch/buy the BARBRI videos because they are really life-changing (and no I am not forced or pay to say that)!

#The3Llife: Making An Effective Outline

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

Today is my last day of classes!

While I no longer have to sit in class, I can’t totally put the semester behind me yet. The next week is going to be full of outlining for all of my law school final exams, some open book and some closed.

Outlining can be a challenge and a lot of law students are tempted to make a “template” outline that they can fill in with class-specific material. While that sounds like a timesaver, it’s actually really detrimental. Every class is different, every exam focuses on different things, and therefore each outline should reflect those differences.

Think about how the professor organized the class.

You should have the most information in your outline about the topics that were discussed the most. Don’t get caught up trying to thoroughly analyze something your professor just mentioned in passing. If you’re unsure if you understand something enough, meet with a classmate or your professor and talk it through. You can also ask if your professor will review your outline. I’ve had several who are happy to take a look and make note of things that are missing or over-emphasized.

Aside from tailoring your outline to the structure of the class, also tailor it to the structure of the exam. Open-book exams require very different outlines from closed-book exams. For a closed-book exam an 80-page outline isn’t going to do you much good since it’s unlikely you can memorize that much info. Try to condense the rules, cases, and concepts as much as possible so they are easy to memorize. Depending on your learning style you may want to make flashcards or create mnemonic devices.

Since you’ll have your outline with you in an open book exam, it can be a little longer and more substantive. The key to using your outline effectively during the exam is organization. The answer may be in your outline, but that’s not helpful if you had to spend 20 minutes flipping through to find it. Organize your outline in a way that makes sense for you and then think of some other ways you can make it easy to search through. For a longer outline, you may want a skeleton outline or table of contents you can quickly skim. I’m a big fan of adding tabs that note the different rules and highlighting key cases or concepts.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you’re thoughtful about how you’re making your outlines and what will work best for you. It may seem like a lot of work–and it is–but the benefits of having a strong outline are well worth the trouble!

What are some of your tips for outlining? Share them with me on Twitter @The3LLife!

#The3Llife: 3 Things You Need to Do In November

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

I don’t know about you, but I feel like this semester has flown by.

I have only 4 short weeks until classes are over and finals begin. Yikes! I’m a horrible procrastinator and a serial over-committer, but in the interest of surviving finals with my sanity in tact, I’ve decided to try to keep myself under control this year. With that in mind, I’ve come up with 3 things that I’ll be doing this November (and I think you should do too!) to make finals a little less stressful.

Don’t put off outlines

This one is for all the procrastinators out there! I hear you—and I’m usually right there with you. But this semester I’m doing something differently. I sat down and looked at my calendar this morning. It was chock full of school events, family get-togethers, and dinners with friends. I know what this means. I’ll hang out with friends and family, do my homework, and crash on the couch watching Netflix. See something missing there? Yeah—exam prep! To ensure I’m not putting off my outlining until the last second, I dedicated a chunk of time in my calendar each Thursday afternoon just for plugging away at my outlines. Just taking a couple of hours a week to put them together is going to save me a lot of stress in a month, and will give me adequate time to ask my friends and professors questions.

Make lists (and use them)

I’m taking a lot of classes this semester and I have so many projects, short papers, and final exams that I can’t keep track of them all. My first step this November is to make a list of the due dates for all of my assignments, that way I don’t have to worry about a deadline slipping my mind. Once I have my overall list of assignments, I’m going to break it down into smaller lists of what needs to get done for each. Closed book exam? That means I’ll want to make flashcards. Final project? I’ll need to write down all the different parts I need to complete. When I finish something I can cross it off, making sure I know exactly what is done and what I still need to work on.

Take a Thanksgiving break

The last few weeks of the semester bring a lot of hard work and a lot of stress. While you don’t want to slack off, you also don’t want to head into finals feeling burnt out. Than Thanksgiving holiday is a good time to take a couple of days away from law school. Spend time with family, snag some great Black Friday deals, and do some Netflix binge-watching. After a couple of days off, you’ll feel a lot more relaxed, energized, and ready to take on finals!

#The3Llife: Suggested Methods for Studying

GUEST BLOG by Lauren Rose,
3L at University of Detroit Mercy

Whether we like it or not, finals are here.

Hopefully you have been studying and keeping up on your outlines throughout the semester.  Also, I hope that you have figured out what study methods work best for you.  Here are a few methods that I like to use while studying for final exams.

  • Write it out. After completing and reviewing my outlines on the computer, I like to write out my outlines by hand.  This allows me to grasp the material in a different way because I am forced to interact with it.  Writing requires you to think about what you are putting onto the piece of paper.  Also, while I am writing my outlines, I am able to flag topics that I am unclear on.  If I do not understand a topic, I make a point to look it up or put a sticky note as a reminder to look it up later.  Also, I like to write out flashcards and quiz myself.
  • Use colors. I like to write my outlines and my flashcards in vibrant colors.  I have used this method throughout high school, college, and law school.  While my outlines may look like an elementary school coloring book, I find the use of color to be incredibly helpful.  The colors allow me to keep track of different topics within an outline. Also, studies have shown that the use of color may enhance memory.   If you’re looking for a way to make studying a little bit more fun, and enhance your memory at the same time, try using fun colored pens!
  • Take breaks. Sitting in one place for hours upon hours is exhausting.  I am a big proponent of taking short breaks.  Take a break to get a cup of coffee or take a walk around the building.  I understand that time is of the essence while studying for finals, so make a break a goal.  For example, “When I finish reviewing this topic, I can go grab a cup of coffee or take a quick walk outside.”  Use these breaks not only as motivation to get through material but also as a way to take a few minutes to focus on something else.
  • Continue a regular workout schedule. This is easier said than done, however, it is important to maintain some level of exercise while studying for finals.  Sitting for 10+ hours a day is not good for your body.  Take an hour or so to go on a run, attend a yoga class, or go swimming.

Those are just a few of things that I like to do while studying for finals.  Do you have any tips that you would like to share with other law students?  Tweet me @The3LLife!