11 Tips for Exam Season

Ahhhhhh. Deep Breath. Exam Season is upon us yet again.

For some of us at BC Law, exams simply need to come and go so that we can get on with our Winter Break. For others – particularly you 1Ls – these few weeks will be incredibly stressful as you try to figure out how to both study for and execute on exams, which are two distinct skills that each need attention. 

As we enter reading period, the BC Impact Bloggers compiled a list of 11 of our most effective exam strategies. Note: these are not necessarily academic strategies, but rather tips for enduring and persisting through this difficult time.

#1: The only thing you can do is your best.

It’s very cheesy, but it’s true. 

#2: Exercising for at least 30 minutes and getting 8 hours of sleep fixes a LOT of problems in life.

#3: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel with outlines.

Use one that’s tried and true!

#4: Talk to friends outside of law school.

Other law students will just stress you out because everything seems competitive.

#5: Sacrificing sleep is almost never worth it. 

When you’re tired you retain less information and are less productive.

#6: Do practice exams, and summarize answers if you don’t have time to complete the practice exams fully.

1L professors are usually good about giving out practice questions, and answering these using your outline is a great way to prepare for an exam. If you don’t have time to write full answers, you can also just read the questions and summarize answers using bullet points for each paragraph you would write in a real exam. This way, you can still review your “answers” against full sample answers to make sure you’ve identified all of the issues properly. This won’t be as effective as doing a full timed practice exam, but it’s a good way to prepare if you’re running out of time.

#7: Print out your outline before the day of the exam. 

It’s best to do practice exams with a hard copy of your outline so you can get used to flipping through it. But even more than that, you’ll simply want to avoid any technical difficulties or log jams that could occur at the printers the morning of your exam. Printing everything you need at least the night before will take one stressor off your plate on what is sure to be an anxious day.

#8: Form a small study group to help with outlining. 

Even if you prefer to work alone, having some other people to compare class notes with can help strengthen your understanding. It also makes it less likely you’ll miss something important. 

However, be cautious about working with more than 3-4 other people; the larger the group, the more you might have conflicting inputs and slow down the process. Just find a couple of people you work well with to make sure your notes are accurate and your outlines are comprehensive.

#9: Get fresh air.

Being cooped up in your room or in the library for hours on end can get stale. Even though it’s getting colder out, going outside for just a couple minutes to get some fresh air can help clear your head and give you energy to keep going. 

#10: It’s helpful to study with a friend. 

Studying at the end of the exam period is really hard. Even if you’re working independently. It makes sure you block out study time and you’re less likely to accidentally sit on your phone for 30 minutes.

#11: It is okay to take the day off after completing an exam. 

Don’t fall behind on studying because you tried to force yourself to study after exams. You end up just being more tired, more stressed, and less productive the next day. In the end it hurts more than it helps.

We hope these tips and strategies are helpful! Just remember, the most important is #1. 

Good luck and see you all on the other side!

Travis Salters is a third-year student at BC Law, and president of the Impact blog. Contact him at salterst@bc.edu.

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