It’s the end of the semester, which can only mean one thing: finals. In undergrad finals were stressful, but I could get away with studying for a few hours and be fine. Sometimes I wouldn’t study at all and still get an “A” in the class. There is no way I could ever get away with doing that in law school. People said that law school finals were like nothing you could ever expect. They were right. I am realizing that most of the things people said about law school were right.
In law school the final is basically your entire grade. Only recently have professors begun to give midterms or other assignments to help students understand their standing in the class. Those midterms and assignments are small percentages of the total grade, so that means the final determines how you do in the class. This means that you really have to understand the material and be prepared for the final. The only way to be prepared is to study really well, and you can only study well if you took notes all semester. Unlike in undergrad, note taking and paying attention is key to success. There is no BSing your way through class. You can get called out at any point, and you have to be ready to answer the questions. The constant stress and need to be prepared definitely helps come finals time. It requires you to be well versed in the topics, which means when you start studying for finals you at least have a place to start.
While having a place to start is nice there is still a lot of information to sift through. Getting through and organizing all the topics from the semester is a lot work. One way to organize the information is through making outlines. I never outlined in undergrad, but now it has become of the main ways I study. The amount of time it takes to make the outlines and go through them enough so you know the information like the back of your hand in tremendous. When I wasn’t at my job all my time was spent at the library. The library became home. The only thing I didn’t do there was sleep, and I even contemplated that a few times. Study rooms, study groups, sleep deprivation, and junk food were the defining elements of finals week. Having to balance studying and working full time was difficult. I need money but I also need to pass my classes. While at work I couldn’t spend the time I wanted to on studying. I did get help from co-workers who quizzed me with flash cards I made, but work responsibilities took priority so studying was not very productive.
Another thing that everyone says about your first year finals is that if you put in the work then you will be fine. After hearing the horror stories about how hard finals are and then actually experiencing it, it was nice to hear a few words of comfort. While there is the definite possibility that I did not do well on my finals, I do feel like I put in the effort required to do well. Hopefully my effort equals passing grades.
“When I have tried and failed, I shall have failed.”