Academic & Bar Support Blog

March Madness and Law School Exams

Posted by Maysa Eissa Nichter on March 26, 2014


With March Madness well underway, basketball is on my mind. This weekend, when the players went out on the court, I thought about the hundreds of drills and shots each player took before arriving at the game that day.

Why am I writing about basketball on our ASP blog? I think of each of you as I think of the college basketball players on the surviving teams of March Madness – individuals with incredible potential to soon be professionals at the top of their field.

At ASP, we strongly encourage students to read and brief cases, remain engaged during lecture, and make use of office hours. We also encourage students to set aside time each week not only to review their notes and prepare course outlines, but also to then make use of these materials by taking practice exams. Understandably, students have difficulty fitting this all into their schedules, and often walk into their final examinations having only quickly brainstormed how they would respond to just one or two practice exams.

But, what if I told you that taking the time to take and review practice exams is the most effective way to prepare for your final examinations?

A law student who decides not to take practice exams would be like a basketball player who figures he only needs to memorize all the rules and plays for the game – he doesn’t need to get on the court beforehand to practice! It is the very process of getting out onto the court, missing half of the shots, watching the replay video to discern what he is doing wrong, and then getting up and trying it again, that makes him a stronger athlete.

Likewise, by setting time aside to take practice exams for each of your classes, you will exercise your mind as you practice your craft. You will identify issues, apply rules covered in class, provide succinct and thorough analysis, and draft clear conclusions. By using your prepared outline to take practice exams, you will also reinforce what is covered in your course outline, discover rules that seemed clear in your notes but prove confusing when you try to apply them to a hypothetical, and develop opportunities to seek clarity by dropping into office hours. All the while, you will build the time management skills you will need to use on “game day”. Taking practice exams also encourages you to formulate a strategy to tackle various issues that may appear on the final, saving you precious time during the final exam.

March Madness isn’t like the basketball you played in 6th grade P.E. class just before recess, and law school exams aren’t like the history quizzes you took after recess. Like March Madness, law school is for students on their way to becoming professionals, and professionals show up to game time not looking to practice, but to perform for their teammates, their fans, and most importantly, themselves. When you arrive to take your final exams, don’t show up to practice. Show up to perform for your professor, your greatest fans and supporters, and most importantly, you.

If you haven’t taken any practice exams yet, now is the perfect time to start! With weeks still remaining, you can still reasonably complete three or four exams in each subject before conquering your final exams.

To learn more about practice exams, including where to find them and how to make them most effective during the weeks leading up to your final exams, check out our Success Guide, “How to Find and Take Practice Exams”, on our website, or drop by our office today.

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