We Are All Insane At Exam Time

After another long hiatus, I felt it necessary to channel all my existential angst into a blog post. Don’t worry though, my intentions are good. The topic is one with which some of my readers are all too familiar: law school exams. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, there is still the opportunity to live vicariously.

If you offered me the chance to be thrown out of a plate glass window (defenestration, anyone?) five stories up or take my exams, I’d probably take the exams. (Just kidding. Hurl me out of the window, please). My exams were around three hours long, but even that didn’t seem long enough. What is most staggering is that your entire performance in a class is measured in a three hour exam that you take at 8:00am. Sometimes you can bring an outline, but in some ways this is false sense of security. If you take too much time to look at your outline, then you won’t have enough time to write your answers. I’d offer more test-taking advice, but there are plenty of websites that do that and frankly I despise in-class exams (I researched pedagogy in my past life as a historian). What I can do is offer some advice (and humor) on dealing with the anxiety of waiting for your course grades to come in, which we all deal with regardless of our final grade.

First, stay off of the Internet. Any comfort you could get from streaming movies or social media will be far outweighed by the desire to Google things like “I think I missed an issue on my Civ Pro Exam” and “Getting a Job with a Bad Law School GPA.”  If you’re off of the Internet, you also won’t be tempted to constantly check the registrar’s website to see if your grades are there. You got the grade you got and nothing online will change that, trust me.

Second, do something to keep your mind off anything related to law school for a while. Go skiing, hiking, hang out with friends, read fiction, whatever it takes.  I was most relaxed when I was playing basketball.  I didn’t think about law school at all for those few hours. It was awesome.

Third, try to get some sleep. Who writes a blog and kept waking up at 4:00am during the break? (This guy!) Even on the days when I felt I hadn’t stressed out too much, I still found myself waking up in the middle of the night. I tried to go to bed earlier and that seemed to help. But if you are losing sleep over your grades, try to do something about it. Not sleeping will only make it worse.

Fourth, you are not GPA. I haven’t met all the members of my law school class yet, but I’ve been very impressed with everyone I’ve met so far. I really think that they will all be great attorneys. Unfortunately, most law schools grade on a strict curve, meaning that a lot of people won’t have the GPA they thought they would have when they started law school. I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t care at all about your GPA, but just remember that is only one factor in showing what you can do in life. If you were smart or achieved great things before law school (or any school), I have every confidence that you will continue to do so. Also, remember that just because you did well in a class doesn’t mean you will remember it forever or that someday you will be an expert. You always have to work at maintaining knowledge. Take me for example. If you look at my transcript from college you’d see a C+ in one of my Italian classes and an A in Phenomenology. I still try to read Italian when I can and have remembered a lot of it, but for the life of me I’m clueless on Phenomenology (I thought it would look bad ass on my transcript, I’ll admit it).

Ok. That it’s, for now.

We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when.

But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.

Vera Lynn


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