Thursday, December 10, 2009

Berkeley Law 3L: A Real Person of Genius

The WSJ Law Blog just ran a post (I kid you not) entitled: On Crushing Your First-Year Exams: Advice From Some Who Did.

The post interviews second- and third-year students from law reviews at various schools about "how they managed to kill it on their first-year exams." Specifically, they asked law students to finish this sentence:
The smartest thing I did while preparing for my 1L first-semester exams was ______.
The responses ranged from bizarre (Vanderbilt Law: "the smartest thing I did while studying for exams 1L year was to go through each entire course [in my head] in successively shorter periods of time") . . . to stressful (Virginia: take practice exams but "don’t just go through them, take them — pretend it’s the real thing, time limits and all. Then discuss answers") . . . to conventional (Brooklyn: "start outlining early in the semester") . . . . to reasonable, honest, and human:
Anonymous 3L at Berkeley, [an] editor on the California Law Review:

Perhaps the most important (and most difficult) advice is that you need to move on when the exam is over, either to prepping for your next exam, having a beer, or just generally getting on with your life. You might feel tempted to talk to your classmates about the exam, perhaps because you have nothing else to talk about (as your life of late was probably consumed with studying). Avoid this at all costs; at best you get affirmation in your answers (which could still be wrong), but at worst your start worrying that you missed something, which at this point is totally out of your control. . . . From my own experience and my friends, taking a law school exam can be defeating and leave students with the feeling that their days of studying were not properly translated to the answer they cranked out in three hours. Try your best not to dwell on those feelings
.
Bingo.

Not only was that solid advice, but it was also given in a way that put Boalt's best foot forward in a national forum. It represents the calm, grounded people we try to be, and not the frenzied, neurotic, anxiety-machines the rest of the WSJ Law Blog's post invited 1L's to become. Well done.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best thing I can do before exams is to let loose the night before. Cramming the night before just causes more stress for me. Instead I go out for drinks or dinner or the movies with friends. That way I can relax some and not stress myself out too much.

12/11/2009 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great advice but it was non-responsive to the question posed.

12/11/2009 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i second 7:34 am, that advice is certainly not going to help you do better on the actual exam.

i agree with the person who said to do actual timed test conditions. i was surprised at the number of people who had never done it before the actual exam, and then were surprised that they were pressed for time.

12/11/2009 11:20 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

I read all the advice, and this definitely wins for best piece of advice for how to approach exam period generally. However, none of the people in WSJ got what would be the right answer (particularly for students here): you got into Berkeley Law. That means you probably had a high degree of success in an undergraduate program, and possibly a graduate program, too. Do what works for you - you know what that is by now.

For me, for example, that involves not taking practice tests under timed conditions. I'll glance at them, if they're provided, to get a sense of what the professor has asked. And if I'm given a 'model' answer or other sample answer, I'll glance at that, too. But I don't do more because I, personally, don't gain anything from investing more time in that type of activity.

12/11/2009 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

doesn't sound like the class of 2012 would ever sound like that! enjoy it while you can!

12/11/2009 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really have to agree with this comment. I do agree with the practice test advice for preparation, but i have noticed a correlation between how not stressed I am and my performance.

12/13/2009 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Matt that "doing what works for you" is the best approach, with the caveat that you might discover what works for you as alaw student might be different than what worked as an undergrad.

I also dont think the WSJ poster evaded the prompt. For anyone that has had a (perceived or real) poor performance on one exam derail or sidetrack their preparation and state of mind for a subsequent exam, I think the advice is an important reminder.

12/13/2009 8:58 PM  

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