Ok guys don't freak out, but now's the time to get down to business [to defeat the Huns]. If this sends you into a whirlwind of stress like it always does to me, stop, take a deep breath, and remember that you have a month to study and you'll do fine. So, here's how I tackle this last month.
Remind your friends and family of your life. Unless they've gone to law school or some other really hard school, they won't get it. I've had a few people be like "chill you have a whole month!" because they don't understand how much I have to know for these tests and how little time a month really is. I know this sounds like something stupid that a blogger says to do but doesn't really do it (ugh I hate when I can tell that when I'm reading a blog), but I really do this.
I do this and let them know in a way: 1. I can't hang out. I'm not ditching you, I'm just seriously busy. 2. I can't help you. Whether it's telling my sister I can't babysit or a friend that I can't help her pick an outfit for a date, they need to know that I seriously don't have time for that. 3. I'm stressed AF right now. TBH the closer it gets to finals, the more irritable I get, so I have to let them know that if I blow up (whether that's getting mad for no reason or crying for no reason) it's because of the stress. Does anyone else think stress is worse than PMS?
Organize your game plan
Make a giant to-do list. Again don't let this overwhelm you because you have a month to slowly chip away at this! What I do is take a paper and divide it into however many classes I'm taking. Then under each class I make a to-do of everything that I need to get done, like: Evidence- type up written class notes for chapter 1, outline chapter 1, make flashcards for chapter 1, make case list for chapter 1. This helps me keep track of everything that I need to get done so I don't miss anything when I get scatterbrained. This what I model mine after.
Create your game plan
Find out when your finals are (check your syllabus or school website). First things first, make a reminder in your phone for the date, time, and room that your final will be in and set reminders for 1 day before and 1 hour before the test time. This will help you be at ease later on when you start being paranoid that you missed a final and will help you not get your finals mixed up. And while you're checking your syllabus, it's a good idea to double check if you're able to bring in your book or any other study materials.
Now then, prioritize your finals. I make two lists. On one I number them 1-5 in reverse order of when they are (so my first final is 5 and my last final is 1, because I have five finals). Then I number another 1-5 of which final I dread the most (1 is easiest and 5 is most) and for that I consider both is the subject a tough one or one that I understand pretty well and do I expect my professor to make the test impossible or okay. Then I combine the two lists and know how to generally make a study schedule - and I start tackling my to-list from step two in order of which subject ended up having the highest number.
Study a little more each day
Be that try hard person. Here's how I ramp up my study schedule. If I have four weeks to go, I'll spend about 2-3 hours on Saturday and another 2-3 hours on Sunday studying (when I say studying I mean studying for the finals not preparing/reading/studying for class). I also make myself study an hour after school. Three weeks to go, I add an hour so now it's 3-4 each weekend day and 2 on a week day. Two weeks to go, I add another hour so it's 4-5 each weekend day and 3 on a week day. And by the time I have one week to go it's dead day/week so then I go more and basically study 6-8 hours a day, every day.
Yes I know this is A LOT but hear me out. You have 24 hours in a day so if you're at school for 8 hours and then even if you add 4 more hours for finals studying, that still gives you 12 free hours in a day, 8 to sleep, and 4 to either prepare for class or just do whatever. Also, I cannot stress to y'all enough how much it helps to study a little at a time over a month instead of trying to cram. There's just so much to remember that your brain literally can't cram all this.
Practice test problems
Try to get yourself set up to review/practice as fast as you can. What I mean by that is spend the first week or so wrapping up your outlines and flashcards. That's why I start "studying" so early. Writing out an outline or making flashcards does help you a little, but that won't get you the best grades. Want to know what will? E&E books! Guys I just learned about these last semester and they boosted my GPA. I can't say this enough. In my opinion, E&Es are right up there with outlines as far as what you have to be doing for finals.
E&E stands for Examples and Explanations. Last semester my commercial law professor didn't even use a text book, just had us slowly work through these and I got a B+ and was very close to getting an A because of these. You can go to your library and ask to check these out and study with them there, or if they're always taken (because they're seriously a key to success) or if you want to write in them, it's worth the buy. They have E&Es in every subject, don't worry.
All they are is practice problems and answers. The practice problems will really help you see how to best answer a question. And yes they're a "commercial supplement" but y'all my commercial law professor had us doing Bar prep questions as practice problems and I could easily tackle them because I remembered what the E&E had taught me.
Another way to study that I always do is go to Quimbee. This is another thing that really helps me get the big-picture for each class. I watch each video and then later come back and take the quiz for the video (I don't take it immediately because I like to test myself on what I retain/understand more than what I know from my short-term memory) and then I take the section quizzes.
Understanding the big picture is also another key thing to help you do better than your classmates and rack up points. On those big essay questions that take you like an hour to do, the question will be complex and this is where you need to know big-picture. Not only will you need to be able to spot all of the multiple issues (usually there's an issue per chapter that you learned), but you need to be able to connect these. This is where the big picture comes in. You'll need to know how one issue affects (or triggers) another issue and the broad videos on Quimbee helps with that.
If you spend the majority of your time going through these practice problems, it will really help you understand your outline as your review it. When I study, I do about 50% practice problems, 30% memorizing flash cards, and 20% reviewing my outline.
Make an attack outline
This is what you should do about a week before each test. Take your outline, and condense it to one page. By the time you get to an attack outline, you should pretty much have everything on your outline memorized, and this will just help you memorize it.
Sorry I never kept one of these to show you what I do but I'll update this with one after this semester. What I do is make a an outline with Roman numerals for each chapter, and then capital letters under those for the main points.
For example, my Property attack outline had
I. Land Transaction
A. Transfer - req
B. Brokers - 2
C. Listings - 3
D. Commission - CL/m
B. Deed - req
... ok you get it
This is exactly how I memorize it (I just write it down lots of times to do that) and exactly what I put on the back of my test or a scrap paper when I get into the test. This is so I don't forget anything. The numbers remind me how many things are associated with that (so 2 types of brokers or 3 types of listings) or how many elements there are and the abbreviations do too (req = requirements for that, def = definition, M = majority rule, m = minority rule, CL = common law, TL = traditional law, and ML = modern law). Sometimes if there's a lot of capital letters, I'll make a mnemonic to put by the roman numeral to remember all of them.
Why do this? 1. It'll speed you up. Time is your worst enemy in a final so this helps you defeat that. 2. You'll give better answers. If your classmate says "the rule is X" and you say "traditionally the rule was Y but now the rule is X," you just got 2 points for that sentence and your classmate got 1. Both were the right answer, but you point chased. 3. You won't forget anything. When you get in a rush during you test (which you will) it's easy to forget little things. This is like a little check list to go through to make sure you didn't forget anything. My general rule is include all relevant information. For example, if a question mentioned anything out of Roman Numeral I, I would include all of the other the information related to it, so here A-D. Again, this helps you point chase.
Also, check out my Finals Posts Round Up post for more tips to help with your finals!
Don't try to study for long periods of time without breaks! The little breaks help your brain stay more focused while you're studying and prevent you from burnout. I use this app to study for 20 minutes and then take 5 minute breaks.
During your breaks, make sure to get up and walk around a little. I literally will be scrolling through Instagram but still make myself stand up while I do it. This will be a great relief for your neck, back, and butt when you're sitting a lot.
On that note, try to move while you're studying. One thing that I like to do is record my outline on my phone and then listen to it while I take a walk. Saying the outline helps me to understand it, hearing it helps even more, and hearing it while walking around makes me pay attention to what I'm hearing. So go to a park!
Also, check out my Finals Posts Round Up post for more tips to help with your finals!