Ms. JD’s Law School Finals Exam Tips Round Up

As everyone heads into the Thanksgiving holidays, there's the excitement for turkey day and time with friends and family, the lure of Christmas carols, stores filled with holiday cheer, and ... for all of our law school women, the DREAD OF FINALS. 

Never fear!  Ms. JD is here to help.  I thought about writing a post dedicated to my best finals tips and tricks and then I realized that I didn't need to because over the years almost all of my tips and tricks have come from these very pages of Ms. JD.  Therefore, as Thanksgiving gift to you, I'm putting those tips together in a Final Exam Round Up!  So without delay, here are some of Ms. JD's best Final Exam Study Tips.

1. You should take practice tests IN GROUPS.  You can do this with a study group or, as Jessie suggested here, if you're involved with your women's law association, consider hosting a practice exam event.  She suggests a group test time complete with hot chocolate.  YUM! 

2. Jessie also offers the big picture on law school exam studying here.

3.Having trouble synthesizing the material?  Elizabeth recommends trying Notecards.  Personally, I loved the recommendation to do Law Math.  Although Janet wrote this post about studying for the bar, I think the recommendations hold true for final exams too! 

SIDE NOTE: Need a fun study break?  You can learn 15 Things You Didn't Know About Janet, who is also Ms. JD's Vice President, here.  Basically, she's Ms. JD's fun one! smile

4. Ms. JD's NWLSO Liaison, Connie, recommends that you don't forget the basics during finals.  Feed thyself well!

5. And if you're looking for a BUNCH of great tips, try this #1LTools Twitter Chat Transcript.  Ms. JD and a number of other groups dedicated to supporting law students answered lots of finals related questions!

But most importantly, don't forget to take some time and ENJOY your Thanksgiving Break.  It's there for a reason!  As this Ms. JD Writer in Residence explains, there's no need to feel guilty - a little R&R can go a long way to helping you return to campus more ready for the long haul to finals.

If you have specific exam questions, post them in the comments and we'll see what we can do to help answer them.  Do you have great exam tips?  Post those as well!



Katie all of this advice is awesome, I especially like the hot chocolate part
This semester, I have my first ever “at-home” exams. I have one that I have 48 hours to complete from downloading anytime in the two week exam period, and another one that we can work on throughout the entire final exam period.  For some reason I feel more stressed than ever for exams and I think it is because of these take-homes.  Do you/anyone have advice for the best way to deal with these take-homes?


Hi LV! 
Great question!  I’m sure others have great advice on take homes and I know there were some good points made in the #1LTools Chat I referenced above.  Here’s a few things that I recommend for take homes:
1. Study EXACTLY as you would for your other exams.  You’re smart to be a little nervous but the truth of the matter is that the same skills that got you through your previous exams will get you through a take home exam as well.
2. Make a Plan.  Know where you’re going to take the exam.  Consider things like internet access, where you’ll be most calm, where/what you’re going to eat, etc.  I never had a 48 hour take home but I always prepacked a lunch and snacks for take homes.  Especially with your 48 hour exam, make sure you’ve got a plan for when you’re going to start it, when you’re going to take a break etc.  Make sure you budget time to sleep.  This should not be an all-nighter.  That’s not the way you do well.
3. Make a Plan (Part II).  Also make a plan for how you want to execute the exam.  By this I mean, set some time goals for yourself.  When you get the exam, decide how much time you’re going to spend outlining, writing, and editing each question and then STICK TO IT.  I recommend taking a break after you’ve outlined the questions (walk once around the floor of your library or go to the bathroom) to allow your brain to process any additional issues you might want to raise.   In general, your timing should be based on how much each question is worth. 
4. Be prepared to EDIT!  The editing part that I mentioned above is particularly important.  Most professors who give take home exams do so, in part, because they don’t want to read your typos.  Plan ahead (and see above re: why you need to sleep during your 48 hour exam).   Also, be sure to ask your professor about whether they’re expecting more complete citations or anything like that as a result of giving a take home. 
5. Prepare for nuance.  The other reason you need to study for this exam in the same way that you study for other exams is that professors also give take homes because they want to see you strut your stuff.  They give you the additional time so that you can more carefully consider the issues, the nuance, and how the issues might play against one another.  That’s exciting!  It’s a chance to really engage your lawyering skills.  If you’re well prepared, the extra time will allow you to put your pencil down and think about the less obvious issues your professor might be raising and that can be fun. 
6. When in doubt, ASK!  Professors hold office hours for a reason.  If you’re nervous about your take home, drop by the professor’s office.  Tell him or her that you’re nervous about taking your first take home test and wondering if they could shed some light on what makes a take home different from in-class exams they’ve offered before.  You might even ask him or her why they give a take home instead of an in-class exam.  Their answer can give you some additional insight into what they’re hoping you’ll give them in your responses!
Hopefully these tips help you.  Do others have great take home tips?

Liz Vaysman

This is really helpful, thanks Katie!


Hi Liz, 
I felt the same way in take home exams. I would suggest making sure that especially for the 48 hour one you find a place to take the exam that is quiet and without distractions. It was always hard for me to do those exams at home. 
Best of luck!!!

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