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How to Hit a Home Run… on Your Exams

Professor Gail Henderson


Most law students wouldn’t compare themselves to professional athletes, but getting through law school exams can feel like a grueling road trip. So here are some study tips inspired by the sport of baseball (which is most definitely a sport, by the way).

Study Tip #1: Getting in Shape

The Toronto Blue Jays don’t just show up for Opening Day after slacking off all winter (although they have on occasion played that way). Instead, they spend six weeks in spring training, practicing their fielding, perfecting their swing, adjusting their grip. Similarly, you should not be cracking the spine of your casebooks on the first day of the exam period and expect to score an A.

Rather, you should be training for exams all semester by attending class, doing your readings, talking to your professors, and creating your own CANs, or otherwise doing what you need to do to make sure that you understand and know the course material. You’re only going to be able to hit that walk-off home run if you’ve put in the hours at batting practice.

Study Tip #2: Staying Healthy

In an interview with ESPN about pitching a perfect game, David Wells confessed that he showed up to the ball park that day still reeking of booze from partying most of the night with the cast of Saturday Night Live. So, it is possible to perform well under sub-optimal conditions.

But are you David Wells? No, you most certainly are not. So think about how you treat your body during the period leading up to and during exams. If you drink alcohol, consume less. If you drink coffee, stick to one or two cups a day (note that Steve serves a large selection of teas). Resist the urge to maximize study time by eating nothing but fast food. Instead, take the time to cook and make sure you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables. Most importantly: get enough sleep.

Study Tip #3: Game Day

When a batter’s in a slump, or a pitcher keeps missing the strike zone, you’ll often hear the colour commentator say “he’s lost confidence”. You don’t want this to happen to you in an exam. Players have lots of tricks for maintaining a high level of confidence in themselves and their abilities (as well as for intimidating their opponent, but let’s stick to the positive here). This is why most hitters choose swagger-heavy hip-hop tracks as their walk-up music.

So spend some time thinking about how you’re going to pump up your self-confidence before an exam. Whether it’s a song or a mantra doesn’t matter – whatever will help you to feel confident in your knowledge and understanding of the course material when you walk up to the plate and open your exam paper.

Winning is a state of mind, but it’s a state of mind built on hard work and discipline. Good luck!