There is often so much to do before exams. The crunch causes many students to focus too much on some subjects to the neglect of others.
Many students find it helpful to make a schedule right now of their exam preparation plans. That way, as they get closer to exams, they stay on track.
An exam schedule would include planning which days you will outline particular classes, days you will go over flashcards, days you will do practice exams, etc.
For example, follow these steps:
TopLawStudent’s Exam Preparation Plan
I. Mark on your calendar your exam days.
II. Determine how many days you have to study for each class.
- Add up how many full days you will have to study for exams, but don’t forget you may need a day off. (e.g. 15 days)
- Divide these by the number of classes you have. (e.g. 3 days for Contracts, 3 days for Torts, etc.)
- If you have a class that needs more preparation time, take a study day from an easier class. (e.g. 2 days for Contracts and 4 days for Torts)
III. Mark on your calendar your study days.
- Starting with the final exam you have first, mark the days before it as study days. (e.g. if your Property exam is Wednesday and you have 3 study days for that class, mark Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday as Property study days).
- Continue to mark study days for all your classes.
IV. Identify the Exam Types
- Write across the top of a piece of paper the name of each class in which you will have a final exam. (e.g. Property, Torts, …)
- Under each class, write whether the exam is open-book, closed-book, take-home, or multiple choice.
V. Determine what you will do on each study day Now list under each class what you need to do to prepare for that particular exam. For example:
- For all closed-book exams: Write “Make a list of terms, concepts, and important cases;” “Make flashcards for every item on that list;” and “Practice flashcards.”
- For all open-book exams: Write “Prepare an outline” and “Create a table of contents or index for the outline.”
- For all take-home exams: Write, for example, “Prepare an outline,” “Check out library reference books I may need,” and “Make a list of questions to ask the professor before the exam period.”
VI. For all exams based on a statute, a code, or rules: Some courses focus on written guidelines or laws rather than cases — for example, the UCC, Professional Responsibility, Civil Procedure, Corporate Tax, Securities Regulation, and others. For these, I do two things:
- First, make a list of sections of the law or use your book with the sections in it. After each section of the law, write the related section numbers and a few word description about how each section relates. For example, in Civil Procedure next to Rule 3 (explaining that a civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court) write “This starts the 120-day statute of limitations. See Rule 4(m).”
- Second, make an index of concepts that lists key terms and concepts along with each section of the law related to each concept. For example, in Civil Procedure, I would write the term, “Statute of Limitations,” and next to it I would write, “Rule 3 (commencing a civil action); Rule 4(m) 120-day statute of limitations.”
- Benefits. These two lists — the list of sections and the index of concepts — gives you a quick reference list in take-home exams or open-book exams. Once you spot an issue or section of the law on your exam, you can quickly find all related issues or sections of the law. For example, when your Civil Procedure exam raises a fact pattern that makes you think of the Statute of Limitations, you simply look for “Statute of Limitations” on your index of concepts to see which rules relate to it. Similarly, when writing in your exam about Rule 3 commencing the action, you will see your note on your list of sections about this starting the 120-day statute of limitations, and write a note about that.
VII. Prioritize the list of things you need to do for each exam. You may run out of time, but if you have a prioritized list, it will help you quickly decide what to do next.
VIII. Follow your plan. It is difficult to be disciplined to stick with the plan, but remind yourself that this is where it all counts. Your future job opportunities and salary will be based on your diligence and focus in executing your plan.
IX. Modify your plan as necessary. You may remember other things you need to do to prepare. Just add them to your list of things to do to prepare for a particular exam, give each one a priority based on the other items on the list, and continue to work down your prioritized list.