1L Midterms: It’s All A Learning Curve.
Jacob Marchel (1L)
Midterms have come and gone, and now we must go through the agonizing step that follows, waiting for and obsessively scrutinizing our marks.
Without a doubt the pressures and competitive nature of law school make 1L midterms a mind-numbing Lovecraftian hellish landscape that should only be reserved for traitors, murderers, and anyone who buys a snuggie (*seriously, they’re basically robes you put on backwards). Nonetheless, during those three weeks I’ve discovered a few worthwhile things.
Firstly, all of those basic, and maybe clichéd, tips for studying that we were told about in undergrad do actually work. Obvious stuff like drinking lots of water, moderating caffeine intake, getting a minimum of six hours a sleep at night, creating a study schedule, watching what you eat (i.e. going easy on junk food), and making sure you squeeze in at least 25-30 minutes of exercise a day all went a long way in maintaining my physical, mental, and emotional stability. In particular, I found watching what I ate and just walking around the block at night to relax before I went to bed really changed how I slept, and thus how I focused the following day.
Secondly, I learned that LSA CANS, at best, are a last-resort aid to your own notes. Based on my own personal note-taking style I found the LSA CANS to be useless. Many of the topics were organized in differing orders from our current year, pages were not numbered, and a lot of key information seemed left out, making the time spent looking through them less productive than just researching the topic sans CANS. However, I will say that there are two worth buying: the Property CAN for cohort two, and the Principles of Property CAN (regardless of your cohort, this CAN is a great annotated glossary of key terms/concepts).
Both were clear, concise, and comprehensive.
Thirdly, and it might sound silly, but I found that the best way to memorize all the different case facts and concepts was to just find one particularly interesting or funny aspect to each case. Doing so helped me create a specific narrative or map in my mind, and then somehow memorizing all the remaining or surrounding facts/concepts became easier (*this especially helped with Torts and Contracts). Additionally, this is strangely how I discovered I really enjoy property law. I started the year thinking it was the most boring course, but generating a narrative for each case made the concepts we were learning much more interesting because I was seeing how they were all connected.
Ultimately, going through 1L midterms was a humbling, thought provoking, and exceptionally frustrating experience. While most of us won’t be happy with our marks, this aggravation and disappointment is supposed to happen. We all came to law school to be pushed harder, to find our intellectual limits and break them. If you disagree, or think maybe law school might not be for you, don’t worry–there’s always med school.