1Hell: An Evening Student’s Guide to Surviving Law School: Tips for Tackling Finals

The biggest challenges facing evening law students are usually pertaining to time management.  As it has been mentioned in previous blog posts, the evening law student has to balance work, school, and personal life in a very limited amount of time.  When the semester starts to wind down and finals season arrives, it is easy for the evening law student to feel even more restricted on time and it is important that she or he goes into finals as prepared as possible.  The following are some tips for maintaining your sanity in the time period leading up to finals while ensuring examination success:

1. Review early and often:  After each class, starting in the beginning of the semester, take an hour before you go home to remain in the classroom or go into the library to review the concepts you learned in class that evening.  Though studying after a full day of work and school will probably be the last thing you will want to do, it will go a long way toward finals success.  Review your notes, outline your notes, and then make sure you understand the key concepts that were touched upon in class.  Doing this enables you to figure out what concepts you fully grasp and will also alert you to the areas in which you are struggling.  Figuring out the areas that will require extra review early in the semester will give you ample opportunity to either set up a meeting with the professor or your study group in order to discuss your confusion and have your questions answered. 

2.  Make your own outlines:  I’m sure that your professors have encouraged you to make your own outlines rather than using commercial outlines.  Even though the task is daunting, making your own outlines will force you to review the material and write/type it out will help you to memorize the rules of law.  Constructing your own outline will help you solidify your knowledge of the key concepts you have focused on in your reviews.

3. Utilize your study group: Finals preparation is one of the major reasons why having a study group is so important.  Getting together with your study group to go over all of the material you have been reviewing and outlining will help you in many ways.  First, it allows you to talk about the material.  Being involved in discussion about classroom concepts will go a long way toward your memorization of the material. 

4. Avoid the Burnout: No matter what, remember to take time for yourself everyday.  Too much studying without taking a break will put your brain on overdrive and will prevent you from being able to fully retain all of the information you are studying.  In addition, if you don’t take breaks early on, you will get so sick of the material that you will not feel like studying when it comes down to the last few weeks before finals.  Take care of yourself, exercise as much as you can and try to eat as healthy as you can.  Feeling good physically will help you perform better mentally on your exams.

For an evening student, studying for finals is like everything else- a balance.  You will want to make sure you start preparing early but not so early and so much that you burn yourself out.  Preparing early will give you an advantage and allow you to work through the material at a more leisurely pace, rather than waiting until the end of the semester and stressing yourself out even more than necessary, while working with your study group will help you to verbalize the concepts and will also allow you to have a little fun while studying.  Treating your body good will go a long way toward nourishing your mind in preparation for finals.  Remember, try to stay as calm as possible and maintain a harmonious balance to ensure finals success.   

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