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1L Exam Advice

My advice for exams is keep doing whatever you did in your undergrad to get to this point; it obviously worked! Whether that means getting through all the readings and making your own CANs, or starting a study group where you divide and conquer, remember that everyone is different. What works for the person to your left and right will not necessarily work for you. It can be maddening getting into a comparison game. Everyone also has different commitments and goals for the year. Some may work part time jobs, are very involved and are happy with class average. Others may have fewer commitments, or want to make Dean’s List. Just keep doing you and everything will work out, and if it doesn’t, don’t worry, midterms are to essentially see if your process is working. Winter term is more than enough time for adjustments!

- Seanna Lawrence, 2L


Maybe most important during exams is not to get caught up in the anxiety and panic of the masses. First year is the year to freak out: Everything is uncertain, and the fear of the unknown is debilitating sometimes. The reality is that you will all be just fine. Everything is going to work out, even if you get a C-, or worse. Just breathe. Exercise. And, trust yourself – you got this.

Now, because I know that none of the foregoing will land because you are all going to freak out until 2nd year anyways, I will include some practical advice. If you haven’t completed all your readings, at some point you have to abandon ship and just study. Determine what the key cases are, read those thoroughly, and for the rest, rely on a CAN. Don’t get too caught up in the facts, just know the legal tests and ratios, and how to apply them. Doing practice exams will help you in this area. Good luck!

- Renee Bolianatz, 3L


1-       Just do it! There will always be the temptation to procrastinate. The best thing to get over the fear that you didn’t actually learn anything this semester is to open the books and study.

2-       Break it down. Cramming for twelve hours the night before an exam doesn’t work for everyone. Break your courses down into manageable chunks and work through it over time. You’ll be much more confident with the material come exam time.

3-       Write it down. Once you’re in the exam, get your thoughts out. Laptop writers have the opportunity to review their work and make changes, so there’s no harm in putting your thoughts to “paper”. At the same time, make sure you read the questions carefully and answer what was asked – no sense wasting time going off on a tangent about how smart you are…

4-       Shut your mouth. Don’t talk about the exams once they’re done. When you’ve submitted your exam there is nothing you can do about it, so move on to the next one.

5-       Celebrate. When exams are done, reward yourself. You get to do it all over again in four months.

– Bryanna White, 2L


Exam season is a stressful time of year. Last December I had 4 exams in 5 days: I moved into the library, cut all family ties, and screamed at a SNAIL who managed to sneak into the quiet room (and sat in my spot). However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t keep my oh-so-sunny disposition throughout the doom and gloom of finals! Here’s five ways to stay positive when you’d rather be roasting chestnuts on an open fire:

  1. Listen to THE BEST MUSIC IN THE WHOLE WORLD– AKA multiple Disney and Christmas playlists. 8-tracks are a great place to find some hidden gems.
  2. Make friends with procrastibakers – They’re everywhere, and they want to share.
  3. Exercise – If you don’t have time to leave the library, pull a Devin Crisanti or Lisa Martens and play around with inversions while you study!
  4. Enjoy the holiday season – Rock the Christmas earrings. Check out some light displays, sip on an eggnog latte, and finish all your holiday shopping online.
  5. Use study breaks to look at puppies, not Facebook – Instead of turning to social media, look no further than reddit/r/aww! Santa-Pugs are way cuter than a baby’s first Christmas.

- Erin Townley, 3L


1) Remember when you are writing an exam to write what the law is first, then apply it to the facts. 2) Don’t bother to make your own CANs for every class. Pick a couple classes that you feel confident in and write your CANs as though you’re synthesizing the law for an exam answer. This is a good skill to have and once you practice it, you’ll find it easier to put to use elsewhere. 3) Do practice exams for every class. 4) Lastly, when you’re writing an exam relax and focus on exactly what is being asked of you.

- Lisa Wingenbach, 2L

Chill Out! Exams are stressful, especially if this is your first time writing a real law school exam, but you have to remember, dumber people then you have done it before. So with that in mind, make sure you carve in time to take a break, whether that’s going for a run, or consuming an entire tube of Pillsbury cookie dough. Sitting in the quiet room, where everyone else seems to be coming before you and leaving after can only psych you out. And really, everyone passes, I promise.

- Lisa Martens, 3L