LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Week 16: Finals Part One
Week 16: Finals Part One
As of this writing, I’m halfway through my four finals. Friday I wrote Civ Pro I, this morning I did Crim Law, then Wednesday I’ve got Torts I and then we finish our first semester on Friday with our Contracts I final.
I’m feeling good so far!
Here’s what I’ve done that helped:
- No stress. I will write either next week or following about the ways law school has conformed to my expectations and the ways that it hasn’t. I’ll also write then about the opinions I’ve had that changed over the course of the first semester. This is one of them. I have decided to let go of all expectations about my performance relative to others, and just focus on creating the correct balance between doing good work and being a good father, husband, teacher, and friend. I could drive myself crazy trying to make sure that I got the top grade in each class. I’m not going to do that. I’m trying to do enough work to make sure I get an A in each class, but I’m not worrying about the rest of it. So far, I wouldn’t be surprised if I eked out top scores in Civ Pro and Crim, but I think it’s equally possible that I’m only in the top 5-ish. Based on the quality of my study and what I believe I’ve done as output, I would be very surprised if I haven’t earned As in both those courses. And while it will be a little difficult for my (outsized) ego not to have the highest grade in every one of my classes, I decided it’s more important to my health and to the health of my family to be satisfied with good work. A-quality work.
- Balance. This is a little more of the above. I’ve spent a total of about six to eight hours studying for Civ Pro, and another six to eight studying for Crim. I split those sessions up over four days altogether, and spent the rest of my time answering student questions, playing with my kids, and having lunch alone with my wife. So my days since last Wednesday have included 3-4 hours of studying, lots of family time, and at least part of a Christmas movie every night (I love love love Christmas). Every part of my life is richer for this decision.
- Organization. So far, my tests have been open-book. That changes on Wednesday for Torts, then we’re back to open-book for Contracts. For the open-book courses, I could have saved myself nearly half of the study time I’ve done this week if I’d known ahead of time what finals would really look like. Here’s what I’ll do different next semester:
- Start the term with big-picture subject headings for every class or unit.
- Only include case names and the rule that informed each decision in my class notes. The facts are just there to help show the limits of the rule. Once I understand the rule, I can apply it easily to new situations. My professors so far only want cases for this purpose; as a short-hand for showing that you’ve understood the rule. They’re good for that, and I spent a lot of time this week trimming the fat out of my notes so that I had just the case names and rules. Next semester I’ll do that from the start and save myself time at the end.
- Figure out a plan for dealing with closed-book tests. I have a strong memory and I’m certain I’ll be OK on Torts this week, but it’s going to take me many hours tonight and tomorrow making sure I’ve got statute numbers memorized and good recall of the elements of different balancing tests, etc. If I know it’s closed-book in advance, I can start committing things to memory earlier, and save myself the cramming.
- Exercise. I haven’t made it a priority. I’ve also been eating more snacks. It’s making me feel a little sluggish, like I’m not at the top of my game. I’ll change this next semester.
- Sleep. I’ve gone to bed at a reasonable time every night, and gotten up at the same time every morning. I’ve got a more standard schedule than I’ve had in, god, like since high school? Maybe? But I’m feeling pretty good! I do need more exercise than I’m getting, though. I’ve really got to build that in.
- No alcohol. This part sucks! I normally try to have a beer or two every night, whether I need one or not. Beer is delicious and is proof that the universe is not entirely uncaring. But I’ve cut it out entirely, on the premise that it will make me clearer. Also the holidays are about to start, with the concomitant overindulgence in sweets and cocktails (AND EGGNOG!), so a little belt-tightening for a couple of weeks is probably in order.
I feel like I’m maybe leaving something out, but I don’t know what it is. This does look like at least most of what I’ve done to be prepared for finals. And it’s really working for me.
Oh, hey; you know how long my essay was for my Crim final today? Seventeen pages! That’s crazy, right? I wrote SO MUCH. So, so many crimes today. A real spree.
Anyway, I’ll see you on the other side. Two down, two to go.
Questions? Comments? Complaints? Post them below, or shoot me an email.
Be good to one another, for we need it now more than maybe ever,
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