How to Prepare for Law School Midterms

3 handy tips for getting ready to law school midterms

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More and more law schools are including midterms as part of their first-year curriculum. Although impending midterms may make law students groan, they are actually a good thing for most law students for a few reasons. First, they give you a taste of what the exam will look like at the end of the semester. Second, they give you a picture of what your professor’s grading looks like. Third, they provide you, the student, the opportunity to test your outline and exam preparation skills and see if you need to do any fine-tuning before entering “final exam season.” Now that you know why you should be looking forward to midterms (okay, “looking forward” may be a bit of a stretch), here are some handy tips for preparing adequately for your law school midterms.

Take time to outline the material.

Some students neglect to use midterms as an opportunity to test their outlining skills. I think this is a mistake. You should approach a midterm with the same study skills you are going to use for your final exams. Outlining is one skill you want to practice. Outline the course up to this point. Study that outline. And test it by doing practice questions (more on practice questions below). By making outlines for your midterms, you will be ahead of the game come the end of the semester.

If outlining isn’t really for you, then try out other study methods like flow charts and flash cards. You know what will work best for you

Practice, practice, practice.

The same advice I give for exams applies to midterms as well. It is critical that you practice answering questions as part of your exam preparation. If you aren’t sure of the format of the final exam, you need to get clarification on that right away.

For essay questions, check whether your professor releases past midterm exams. If not, bar exam questions can help you get some additional essay practice. If you have multiple-choice questions as part of your midterm, make sure to set aside time to practice those as well. Again, bar questions can be helpful for multiple choice (if you are taking torts, contracts, property, criminal law or procedure, civil procedure, evidence, or constitutional law).

In addition, you can check out various supplements (like the Q&A series), which often include multiple choice as well.

Follow up with your professor, with questions.

Sometimes, students don’t go to office hours because they aren’t sure what to talk to their professor about. Well, preparing for a midterm is a great way to start building a relationship with your professor. I can’t imagine that you can outline your class up to this point in the semester and do practice—without having any questions. So instead of just asking your classmates, go to the source! Your professor is the one who will be grading your exams. If you haven’t been going to office hours up to this point, gather up your questions and go now!

Once you have done some practice questions and are ready to head to office hours, don’t hesitate to bring your answers with you. Sometimes, professors will be willing to walk through your writing with you and give you feedback on form, on whether they like your IRAC, or other preferences. This advice is golden and can only be gathered by putting in the time to practice and then getting feedback.

Midterms will give you the feedback many law students crave during law school. So try to do your best and use midterms as learning opportunities, as you enter final exam season.