It seems like a recap of my year might be a potentially useful thing, either for those who wonder why I’ve suddenly become so bad at keeping in touch or for those who go through this, next year.
There were two big lessons of the year, for me:
- Rely heavily on practicing with old exams (actually working them, not skimming them like I usually did).
- Proofread/sanity-check your exam responses, even given the time pressure. A single foolish error might have enormous consequences for your grade.
Personally, it was an extremely difficult year, aside from school. Partly as a result of that fact and partly because I didn’t discover the proper exam-taking strategy (for me, anyway) until halfway through the second quarter exam cycle, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. All in all, though, I really can’t complain, given the number of times law school was literally the last thing on my mind.
What follows is a class-by-class breakdown of what I did to prepare and whether or not it worked.
Civil Procedure I
- Preparation: Mostly related to cases and the rules. Should have spent more time reviewing old exams than I did.
- Expectation: Thought I did well, immediately after the test, but nothing fabulous.
- Outcome: Worse than expected, but nothing terrible.
Elements of the Law
- Preparation: Intense review of the main writers we talked about frequently. This was a good idea, since I realized mid-quarter I was less familiar with the non-caselaw materials than I should have been, and this is the only reason I pulled it out. Looked at old exams; should have done more.
- Expectation: Didn’t think I did well, hoped for median.
- Outcome: Better than expected
- Preparation: Chirelstein, outlining for myself, quizzing each other with friends. Old exams.
- Expectation: Felt great about the material, was horrified by the exam. Expected worst grade to date.
- Outcome: Better than expected, worse than had hoped, going in. Best grade to date, nonetheless.
(Richard Epstein & Thomas Miles)
- Preparation: Outlining, Epstein’s hornbook, old exams.
- Expectation: Felt terrific about the exam.
- Outcome: Worse than had hoped, but objectively well. Same grade as Contracts.
- Preparation: Examples & Explanations, review with a study partner, some outlining (all of which turned out to be a complete waste of time), and printed out all the supplemental material (which turned out to be an excellent idea).
- Expectation: Who knows? Coin flip class. Felt good about it, but there was no telling.
- Outcome: Best core grade of the year.
- Preparation: Outlining, Moynihan, commercial Q&A book, old exams (not enough of them).
- Expectation: Semi-confident, semi-terrified. Hoped for a good grade, but didn’t really have a clue.
- Outcome: Better than expected, worse than hoped.
Civil Procedure II
- Preparation: Outlining, casebook review, Examples & Explanations, not nearly enough exams (by Cox or anyone else).
- Expectation: Expected my best grade of the year, except maybe for American Legal Theory.
- Outcome: Worst grade of the year, by a decent margin. I took a very practical approach; the exam was graded on a very theory-oriented basis. In addition, one particularly stupid mistake (in failing to properly edit my answer) may have contributed in large part to my grade.
American Legal Theory
- Preparation: Paper class. Wrote on a topic extremely familiar to the professor (Holmes), because it sounded interesting.
- Expectation: Expected my best grade of the year.
- Outcome: Best grade of the year!
Legal Research & Writing (a.k.a. Bigelow)
- Preparation: Had numerous and major personal crises the week before the last writing assignment and was too stressed by them to think to ask for an extension. Ended up being an hour late, which, by itself, took me from above median to below (since the brief, itself, was more or less fine). Without the late penalty and with even one more day to collect my wits, I think things would have turned out very differently.
- Expectation: Horrible things.
- Outcome: Less horrible than I feared, but not what I had hoped.
Hopefully, all of that helps somebody!