My Advice for Law School Exam Test Takers. Tip #2: Creating Your Cram Schedule.

December 2nd, 2009

Yesterday morning, I provided my first tip for exam takers.

Today, Tip #2: Creating your Cram Schedule.

Law School finals period is a freakish hybrid between a sprint and a marathon. ┬áIt is a marathon in the sense that you likely have multiple exams and papers to write in a very brief period. If you burn out too early, you won’t make it to the Finish line. But it is also a spring, in that you need to cram a lot of information in a very short period of time. The only way to achieve these diverging goals is to create a cram schedule.

  • First, plan out your final exam and paper due dates from start to finish. You should really do this when registering for classes to maximize study time. But if not, think about it for next semester.
  • Second, estimate how many days you need to study for each exam. Be realistic. If you are stronger in a class, don’t spend as much time in it. If a Professor is notorious for giving harder exams, spend more time on that class. By the time finals week rolls around, your outlines should be done. At this point, you should budget time to review your outline, and complete as many sample questions as possible.
  • Third, prioritize. Try to arrange your study days so you are at your peak right before the exam. Two days before an exam, you should only study for that exam. But if you have more time, mix it up with other topics to keep your mind fresh.
  • Fourth, draw it up. I usually put a sign on my wall with a day-by-day breakdown of what I need to do . Here is an example of what I used to cram for the Virginia Bar. I would usually do the same for exams. When you are done with a topic, cross it out. It is cathartic, and provides a visual release for your mind. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
  • Fifth, stick to it. Making a schedule is easy, but sticking to it is tough. Sadly, tell loved ones and friends that you are out of commission for the next 3 weeks. I took off the entire period from work. If you can do this, do so. I would usually studying 18 hours a day, with minimal breaks. You can sleep after you’re done. In this putrid legal economy, you need every advantage. I cannot possibly overstate the importance of grades.

Tip #3 for Tomorrow: How to write a Law School Seminar Paper in 1 Week.

Disclaimer: Caveat emptor. Take this advice at your own peril. If it doesn’t work, don’t complain. If it works, I appreciate Amazon.com gift cards.