Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Law School Exams 101

I am in the middle of final exams right now, in case you can't tell by my crazed demeanor. For those who don't know, law school exams are a nightmare. They are usually 3-6 hours and the only grade for the entire semester. Yes, that means that is you bomb it, you just fail. :(

To make matters worse, the questions are generally all essay. As a result, you write PAGES and PAGES of information. It isn't uncommon to hear that someone wrote 20 pages in their exam. Sure, you do it on the computer, but 20 pages gives plenty of room for mistake.

Often, professors allow the exam to be open book and/or open notes. This means that students might bring their books, notes, and an outline of the course to the test. When I say outline, you may imagine a 20 page outline bulleting the main subjects of the class. Wrong.
These people bring in BOOKS that they write. Seriously, these outlines might be 80 pages with very little white space. (Side note: girl behind me on Monday had a binder of every slide, every note, every handout, EVERYTHING from the entire semester. True story) Law students pretty much hoard every piece of information in fear of the exam. We all look like crazy people with a million tabbed documents as we approach the exam. See exhibit A below:  
Part of my Civil Procedure outline... isn't it pretty?
I took my first exam on Monday and have another on Thursday. In all honesty, it wasn't as horrible as I envisioned (I have a vivid imagination).  I understood each question. I had notes on each topic. I didn't run out of time. In reality, I don't feel I could ask for much more. At this point, I cannot even remotely speculate on my grade. While I feel I worked really hard in preparing for the exam, it seems like everyone worked really hard. Going to a competitive university often means that almost every student it really competitive and hardworking. I am studying like crazy, but I don't think I am doing anything different than anyone else.
Grades do not come out until the end of January... lets hope I don't cry! The university is going above and beyond to make exams okay. Free coffee, bagels, and donuts in the morning, hot cocoa and cookies in the evening. They had massage therapists visit, movies and board games delivers, and daily visit from puppies! You can guess what activity I signed up for :)
To all the other students out there: I fee ya.

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