Exams are just around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about how to attack all of that material and all of those notes you’ve taken over the course of the past 16 weeks! If you’ve already prepared an outline, good for you. If not, it’s probably time to sift through the material to really key in on what’s important. You also need to leave some time in your exam planning for some self-reflection.
Self-reflection for most students should happen before, during and after the task at hand – in this case the preparation of your personal exam outline and an exam taking strategy. Engaging in your own learning means that most of you have already been practicing some of the items in the list below. Our CLASP program mentors strongly suggest a pattern of self-reflection for exam preparation like the one that follows:
1. Before the exam
√ Course outline was up-to-date as of the last day of class.
√ Created my personal study aids (flash cards, flow charts, etc.)
√ Completed ten or more practice multiple choice questions.
√ Completed five or more practice essay questions.
√ Participated in a study group for lingering questions.
√ Efficiently managed my time for my own study.
Once you complete those practice exams, be sure to take time on these crucial reflection exercises as a part of your exam practice. If you didn’t, go back and be sure to take these next steps before trying another round of practice exams.
2. Reflection (on my exam taking process after completing practice questions)
√ Did I read the call of the question?
√ Did I highlight or circle all relevant facts before beginning to write?
√ Did I note the legal issues in the margin as I spotted them?
√ Did I outline my answer before beginning to write?
√ Did I have an organizational structure?
√ Was my scheme logical, e.g. by parties, contracts, chronologically?
3. Reflection (on my issue spotting skills)
√ Did I spot all of the relevant issues?
√ Did issue contain enough relevant facts?
√ Did I identify and dismiss non-issues?
4. Reflection (on my rule application skills)
√ Did I state all the applicable rules of law and their elements?
√ Did I articulate the rule of law precisely and correctly?
√ Did I articulate all factors and/or tests precisely and correctly where applicable?
5. Reflection (on my analysis)
√ Was my answer conclusory?
√ Did I include all legally relevant facts to support every conclusion of law?
√ Did I include facts which were not legally relevant?
√ Did I cogently link facts to particular elements of the rules? (because)
√ Did I include counterarguments where appropriate? (however)
√ Did I address policy considerations where appropriate?
√ Did I state and discuss applicable defenses and/or exceptions to the rule?
6. Reflection (on my conclusion )
√ Did I provide a conclusion for each issue and/or element?
√ Did the conclusion logically follow from my analysis?
√ Did I answer the call of the question?
7. Reflection (on my style & judgment)
√ Was my writing easy to understand?
√ Did I use words of transition? (However, Although, On the other hand)
√ Did I make grammatical and spelling errors?
√ Did I write legibly?
√ Did I follow my own time guidelines?
√ Did I allocate time correctly among or between questions?
√ Did I spend more time on the more difficult issues?
Being critical of your own work before an exam by going through a carefully thought out series of self-reflection steps and carefully examining and reflecting on your mistakes will help you as you take this round of finals.
Work hard and best wishes on your exams from your Law Library Staff.
“Even if you think you’re doing well and have it all figured out, there is a voice you will always inevitably hear at some point which nags at you and says “but wait…” Don’t ever dismiss it, listen to what it has to say. Life will never be close enough to perfect, and listening to that voice means stepping outside of yourself and considering your own wrongdoings and flaws.”