Studying for your first law school exam

Taking a law school exam is a daunting task, but the lead-up is perhaps even more stressful than the actual exam. Everyone studies differently, but over the years, I’ve learned a few tips that can help prepare you for your very first law school exam or any law school exam. I’ll be focusing on the last week or two leading up to finals.

James Schmidt

First, use your time efficiently. By this, I mean have a set plan for studying for each exam. Since you know when your exams will be, set out a schedule for when you’ll study for each. Beyond setting a schedule, have a plan of how you are going to study.

My typical routine includes spending the first few days ensuring I haven’t missed anything in my outline. This includes discussing the material with classmates, looking through my notes and any materials the professor has provided. After I’ve ensured my outline is thorough, I do as many practice questions as possible to improve my issue spotting.

It’s important to remember that you don’t need to have information memorized for most law school exams. You need to be able to spot the issue. Once you’ve spotted the issue, your outline will carry you across the finish line.

Second, study with a classmate. When I’m studying, I find it very helpful to talk about complex concepts with a classmate. This way, instead of just spinning your wheels, you have the help of someone who may understand the concept better than you. I’d also recommend not hesitating to contact your professors to clear anything up that you have trouble understanding.

Finally, take a break! I typically limit my studying to 6-8 hours a day during finals. Go to a movie, go to the gym, go out to dinner with friends — do something to distract yourself from finals. Studying is important but resting your mind after studying for a few hours is equally as important.  Take plenty of breaks and do things you enjoy to lower your stress levels.

These are just a few of the things that I’ve done to survive law school exams. Everyone studies differently, but KU Law offers tons of resources to fit your style and help you understand the material. The professors are always willing to answer questions, and our library offers free study guides and quizzes for just about every subject area. Law school exams are stressful, but a few things have worked for me to make them a tad bit easier.

By James Schmidt, a 3L from Houston, Texas and a KU Law Student Ambassador