By now, most law students have gotten their grades back from last semester. I didn’t do too hot last semester. It wasn’t horrible, but I know I could have done better. If you’re like me, you want to do better this semester. So, how do we do it? Here’s a few things that I’ve done so I can bounce back from my less than stellar fall semester.
1. Visit your old professor
Make an appointment with your professor as soon as possible to go over your exam. The key to make these appointments successful is to go in without a chip on your shoulder. Go in with the attitude that you really want to know what you did wrong and how you can improve. I know several students who go in to try to argue with the professor. That’s not going to get you anywhere, so don’t waste your time.
Go in with specific questions. Did you miss issues? Was your analysis not thorough enough? Did you do better on the essay or multiple choice? Ask for suggestions on how you can improve.
2. Visit your new professors
After visiting last semester’s professors, make an appointment to see your new professors. Go in a few weeks after the semester has started to ask some questions you’ve come up with from their classes. The visits have another purpose other than getting answers to your questions. You also want to get as much information about how they give exams and what they’re looking for in an answer. Each professor is different. Some just want you to spot all the issues, while others want deep analysis with lots of policy arguments. Find out as soon as possible so you can start preparing for their exam.
3. Write down what went wrong last semester
Take a few minutes to sit down with pen and paper to write what you did wrong last semester. Start from the beginning of the semester and work your way to the day of the exam. Did you spend less time outlining? Did you not do enough practice exams? Were there any outside factors that could have affected your performance? Be as thorough and brutal as possible. If you don’t know what went wrong you won’t know how you can improve.
4. Make a plan for this semester
After you de-construct last semester, make a plan for this semester. If there were outside distractions that may have affected your exam performance, make plans to eliminate those distractions. If you didn’t have enough time review your outlines, plan to finish your outline earlier this semester.
Also take into consideration what each professor is looking for on their exam and plan accordingly. Are the tests closed book? Plan for more time to memorize your outline. Do they use lots of objective multiple choice questions? If multiple choice gives you hard time, then gather as many practice multiple questions as you can.
5. Forget last semester
After you’ve made your goals and plans for the upcoming semester, forget about last semester. There’s nothing you can do to change your grade and dwelling on it will only you hold you back this semester. Forget that past and focus on what you can do on the future.
What do you all do to bounce back from bad law school grades?
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