Exam Advice: A 2L’s Perspective

Don’t let anyone trick you into thinking that after your 1L year, life gets easier.  That’s just flat-out wrong.  Why?  The subject matter may be a little less difficult, the curve may be a little less stringent; however, there’s so much life to be lived as a 2L.  Second year is the year where you work, do not sleep, have no time to outline, do not study, and three weeks before finals you have no idea what’s going on in any of your classes.

The difficulty with 2L year is not the same as the first year of law school.  The subject matter is not as tough because you are already well-versed with the language and taking law school exams.  The difficulty lies in being able to balance school with work and clinics, and all the other extra-curricular activities available including journal writing; mock trial competitions; moot court competitions; student organizations; research, brief, and memo writing; and networking.  Without realizing it, you will be working 60/70 hour weeks, juggling the totality of your commitments.  Sometimes you’ll even hit 100 hours.  Going to class and barely keeping up-to-date with class reading is tough enough; outlining, taking practice exams, and actually understanding the subject matter simply falls to the backburner.  In a flash, it is finals period, and you have no idea how your life moved so quickly.  You are sure that you are going to fail all your classes and end up being kicked out of school.  Although it is very unlikely that your grades will drop so tremendously, the fear lurks at the back of your psyche.

Furthermore, because we were able to schedule our own classes, many individuals (e.g., yours truly) completely forgot to look at the exam schedule when registering and ended up with four exams, three of them back-to-back-to-back.

Honestly, I have only outlined fully for one class out of four.  I’ve taken some notes in the other three, but my mind has been swamped with interrogatories, depo summaries, pleadings, and motions.  May It Please the Court, International Arbitration . . . my notes are just a jumbled mess.  I even noticed while looking over some of my notes to begin outlining that I have some random tidbits of ideas and notes regarding moot court and various cases and research for real work.  Fantastic!

Three weeks to go, I do not plan on sleeping; I plan on buckling down and just studying into the wee hours of the night.  I already have heavy bags under my eyes from my insomnia, but now there is no doubt that by the time my winter “break” begins, I’ll be haggard and look utterly awful, like Halloween came just a few weeks late.  Woohoo!  Outlining and practice exams, here I come.  Of course alumni, career services, and 3Ls tell us students to focus on school and don’t overwhelm ourselves.  Well, if you tell a child not to touch the hot pan, guess what?  They’re going to grab the hot pan and whack you in the head with it.  I do not regret my schedule, not in the least.  But I sure wish I had allocated my time more efficiently.

At least I got smarter, and I planned my spring schedule to ensure that I won’t die at the end of the semester studying and outlining for a gazillion classes with finals on top of one another.  However, my schedule is not in the least lighter; it’s heavier, with more work commitments, moot court competitions, VICAM, other organizations, and more running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  Beautiful!  I’m nothing special though, just an average 2L student.  We’re all busy; we’re all insane; we’re all law students.  Hopefully the mantra that in your 3L year, “they try to bore you to death,” is actually true.

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