If you have noticed a large gap in between my blog entries lately, there is really only one explanation: FINALS! When I was a first year (1L), I thought that the finals period would be easier and less stressful by my 3L year. Although finals are different, the stress and rush during the month before finals has not changed. Because most exam classes are curved, it is difficult to predict how well you did on a final. Some of what I thought were my best exams ended up to be my worst. The best advice is to be prepared as possible. If you are happy with the work you put in during the semester, then just be happy with whatever result.
1L year all of our finals were spaced out 3-4 days apart and all consisted of roughly 3-4 hour essay exams. Professors generally write a complex fact pattern and ask the students to discuss the legal issues involved in the factual situation. Most exams are open book but because they are time pressured there is little opportunity to flip through the book or long outlines. Each year (for better or worse) my exam style has changed a little bit. 1L year I started my outline a couple of weeks after classes started and used it as a way to condense my book notes and class notes. A week or a few days before the exam, I created a checklist. My checklists generally consisted of a chart with boxes for the subject matter, rule, statutes and cases. During my 2L and 3L years, I did not outline during the semester but looked over my class notes throughout the semester to review. Then, a couple of weeks before the exams I made short outlines to review the material.
This exam period I had three essay exams and one twenty-page paper. My first exam was Federal Income Tax (I feel the worse about this exam) on December 11th. I faithfully prepared the reading material for class each day and read a hornbook throughout the semester. My tax outline took me forever to construct. For each issue, I re-read my class notes, book notes, code section and regulations. For this class, however, I still felt confused about income tax right before the exam and have no idea how I performed (i.e. never ask me for tax advice J).
My next two exams and paper feel back-to-back. My corporations exam was on December 16th, Intellectual Property was on December 17th and International Business Agreements paper was due on December 18th!! In addition, to this mess of finals, I was moving out of Boston on December 20th and leaving for Hong Kong on December 27th. Thankfully, I saw this coming well in advance and had already outlined for Corporations and Intellectual Property weeks before (giving me enough time to study for Federal Tax) and had completed a good draft of my IBA paper. Regardless of my foresight, it was a rush until the end.