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Exam Tips
My Exam Strategy Fell Apart, How Do I Save My Semester?

My name is Steven Harris.  I solve problems.

So many law students have been here before.  The first semester student has a grand plan for organizing a study schedule for the semester.  The second semester student swears that she will overcome the bad habits from the first semester.  The 2L student is determined to do better this year.  The 3L student doesn’t care… much, until finals start rolling around.  Then he realizes he hasn’t done any work at all, but he realizes he needs to do SOMETHING so he can pass his finals so he can graduate.  (The first ability of the Bar Exam is availability.  You ain’t available unless you’re eligible!)

What do all of these people have in common?  Their exam strategy fell apart.  Big deal?  NOPE!  As the immortal philosopher Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.”

How do I save my semester?  

How much time do we have?  Tell me how much and I can solve your problem.

First Week Of The Semester
October 1 / March 1
November 1 / April 1
Last Day of Instruction
Two Days Before the Final
Day Before the Final
Spring Semester & 2L
Survival
August/September, or January/February: Survival

 

At this stage in the game, “survival” means showing up to class every day and briefing cases (if you start falling behind, use Casebriefs or another pre-drafted set of briefs to get you through class that day).

Get ahead of the game, use WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List to get a preview of how to spot issues, what rules can realistically be written during a final exam, and how to present your answer and finish on time.  Buy them here:  WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List

What if you could get the correct answer three years early and succeed in law school? Want the correct answer? It’s right there in WINNIN’ TIME! with the foundation lecture on how to succeed in law school and the bar exam by writing strong exam answers on time.

Do you have to work hard to survive in August/September or January/February? No. Set a schedule and stick to it. Use some next-level resources like WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List to get ahead of the game and know the correct answer ahead of time. Think of law school as a full-time job. From 8-4, 9-5, or even 8-6, you should be reading cases, briefing cases, going to class, and staying on top of assignments. And read WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List to reinforce what the correct answer is when you get to exam time.

Why not target your studies every day towards preparing for the point-generating activity at the end of the semester? This ain’t a Ph.D. orals exam, folks. You gotta learn how to take a 60-minute essay in 60 minutes, while spotting all the issues and writing analytically.

Now what if you feel that you’re starting to get in over your head at the beginning of the semester? Fear not! The games haven’t even begun yet! WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List are the appropriate resources to pull you back from confusion and from feeling overwhelmed. The correct answer is there. The tools you need to get back on that treadmill and keep moving on the journey? They’re all there. The best way to succeed in law school is to do a little bit every day and know what professors need on their final exams well ahead of time.

During this survival period, what about work/life balance? Well, nobody can promise you that in law school! There’s a lot of work to do. But do your job. Give yourself some incentives each day. Read those cases for Property class. Take an hour off and watch a sporting event you wanted to watch. Watch that cooking show. Then get that Contracts reading done. Same thing.

Again and again and again.

Outlining
October/March: Outlining

 

This is the time to start working on your outlining. There are two types of people here, folks, and be honest with yourself: are you a procrastinator or not? Many professors will tell you to create your own outlines. It may help you learn the material better because you typed it. But if you’re a procrastinator, you know that you won’t do all that work on your own. What do you do? Either way, you need to get a few examples of outlines to see what they look like. Don’t try to create one without seeing how others have done it! Some outlines are 10 pages long. Others are 40 pages. Others are 100-200 pages! YIKES! Does that sound like a recipe for success?

So, get a couple of outlines that were written by 2Ls or 3Ls who took your professor, and use WINNIN’ TIME!’s bluebook-ready rules that were tailor-made for when you’re stressed the most…on exam day! Use WINNIN’ TIME! for your Cal Bar subject finals (i.e., Torts, Contracts, Property, etc.). Professorize WINNIN’ TIME! outlines by adding things that your professor likes to emphasize in class. Use my formatting, and add those things your professor likes, and my 8-15 page outline turns into a 15-20 page outline. Perfect for memorization purposes: not too long, and you know half of the rules already because the rules are written in the same writing structure.

Procrastinators, you already know what to do! Succeed in law school by having WINNIN’ TIME! by your side every step of the way. Someone’s already done the work for you! If you’re taking Evidence, stop EVERYTHING and get WINNIN’ TIME! so you can crush your Evidence final with the undefeated, exceptional Evidence Boilerplate. First one to 20 issues wins, my friends! Or if you’re taking PR, get WINNIN’ TIME! and practice that PR Boilerplate once a week to nail down those CA distinctions, organize by conduct and succeed on exam day! Buy them here:  WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List

Practice Exams
November/April: Practice Exams

 

The 2-3 weeks before the reading period begins (i.e., the time between the last day of classes and the beginning of finals) is when you need to excel…NOT during the reading period (for many, that’s too late!).

Do a practice question (that’s one question, not an entire exam) every single day. If you have multiple choice and essay components on your exams, then do a practice essay and do some multiple choice questions every day.

Every. Single. Day.

“But what if I haven’t memorized the material yet? How can I take practice exams if I haven’t memorized anything yet?”

Well, friends, let’s think about that for a second. When will you have memorized the material? November 1/April 1? Nope, there’s still 3 weeks of class left. Last day of class? Nope, you still need to finish outlining from the last days of class. Day before the exam? Nope, that’s when I’m going to memorize!

What’s the solution? Forcing yourself to take practice exams BEFORE you finish the last day of classes. Schedule your day around the practice exam. Wake up, schedule your practice exam for the day. Schedule your outlining. Schedule your classes. Schedule when you brief cases. Then schedule when you eat, etc.

How can you take practice exams if you don’t know the law yet? Use the appropriate resources, of course.

WINNIN’ TIME! is open when you take the exam. Take 10 extra minutes for each practice exam (i.e., 70 minutes for a 60-minute question, 100 minutes for a 90-minute question, etc.). And when you finish taking the question, look at the sample answer (if you’re practicing on Cal Bar questions) and see what issues you missed. How do you solve the problem of your missed issues? The Trigger List of course!

If you’re taking Evidence, stop EVERYTHING and get WINNIN’ TIME! so you can crush your Evidence final with the undefeated, exceptional Evidence Boilerplate. First one to 20 issues wins, my friends! Or if you’re taking PR, get WINNIN’ TIME! and practice that PR Boilerplate once a week to nail down those CA distinctions, organize by conduct and succeed on exam day! Buy them here:  WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List

Reading Period
Last Day of Instruction

(i.e., the last day of class lectures and the beginning of the reading period) THROUGH THREE DAYS BEFORE THE EXAM.

 

Step 1:  Buy digital versions of WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List ASAP, here:  

WINNIN’ TIME!  
The Trigger List  


Step 2:
  Purchase my subject lecture and pdf handout of your subject here.
 You can get an authoritative review of your subject within 1-5 hours, MAX.

Step 3: Adopt WINNIN’ TIME! as your outline.  Include any professor-specific items from your class notes as needed.  Do at least one full practice exam question and outline as many exams as you can tolerate.  If you’re taking Evidence or PR, write the Evidence or PR Boilerplate every day!

Step 4:  Two days before your exam:  Do the four-hour Essay Review program in The Trigger List.  Memorize your outline in WINNIN’ TIME!  Do at least one full practice exam question and outline as many exams as you can tolerate.  If you’re taking Evidence or PR, write the Evidence or PR Boilerplate every day!

Step 5:  Day before your exam:  Memorize your outline in WINNIN’ TIME!  Do at least one full practice exam question and outline as many exams as you can tolerate.  If you’re taking Evidence or PR, write the Evidence or PR Boilerplate every day!

Step 6:  Exam day!  Execute the plan, identify issues, analyze facts and finish on time!

Study
Two Days Before The Final

 

Step 1:  Buy digital versions of WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List ASAP, here:  

WINNIN’ TIME!  
The Trigger List  

Step 2:  Purchase my subject lecture and pdf handout of your subject here. You can get an authoritative review of your subject within 1-5 hours, MAX.

Step 3:  Adopt WINNIN’ TIME! as your outline.  Include any professor-specific items from your class notes as needed.  Do at least one full practice exam question and outline as many exams as you can tolerate.  If you’re taking Evidence or PR, write the Evidence or PR Boilerplate every day!

Step 4:  Day before your exam:  Do the four-hour Essay Review program in The Trigger List.  Memorize your outline in WINNIN’ TIME!  Outline as many exams as you can tolerate.  If you’re taking Evidence or PR, write the Evidence or PR Boilerplate every day!

Step 5:  Exam day!  Execute the plan, identify issues, analyze facts and finish on time!

I'm Panicking
The Day Before: I’m Panicking

 

Step 1:  Buy digital versions of WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List ASAP, here:  

WINNIN’ TIME!  
The Trigger List  

Step 2:  Do the four-hour Essay Review program in The Trigger List.  Memorize your outline in WINNIN’ TIME!  Outline as many exams as you can tolerate.  If you’re taking Evidence or PR, write the Evidence or PR Boilerplate!

Step 3:  Exam day!  Execute the plan, identify issues, analyze facts and finish on time!

QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM. 

The Aftermath
Spring Semester & 2Ls

 

Once you survive the first semester, take stock of what you did during finals. What worked? What didn’t? Adapt and make sure you follow the best plan you can.

Spring Break? Work on your outlines. Or get WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List and have next level resources to help you with the Holy Trinity of Law School Exam success: issue spotting, outlining your essay answer with bluebook-ready rules, and presentation.

Professorize your existing WINNIN’ TIME! outline with things your professor likes to emphasize. Go to office hours and ask questions. Prepare one-page white papers with bullet points for potential policy questions. And no matter what, on April 1, start taking practice exams instead of waiting until the day or two before the exam!

For future semesters, focus on WINNIN’ TIME!’s Essay Writing Lecture to help you get in and out of issues faster and finish your exams on time. If you’re taking Evidence, stop EVERYTHING and get WINNIN’ TIME! so you can crush your Evidence final with the undefeated, exceptional Evidence Boilerplate. First one to 20 issues wins, my friends! Or if you’re taking PR, get WINNIN’ TIME! and practice that PR Boilerplate once a week to nail down those CA distinctions, organize by conduct and succeed on exam day!

You don’t have to be smart to succeed in law school. But you need to be organized. Sometimes Socrates scores higher on exams than plumbers. But not frequently. Why?

Plumbers know what the professor is looking for. They show up every day and take all the practice exams they can find. Socrates crushes the Ph.D. orals defense, but doesn’t do practice exams and writes fascinating essays about a few issues of their choosing.

Socrates doesn’t finish the essay on time—he was too busy writing really interesting stuff but not worried about introductory or tertiary issues. The plumber? Crushes the exam because they know how to take a 60-minute exam in 60 minutes and how to use The Trigger List to ensure that words and phrases are spotted, issues implicated, outlined, and written up on time.

Socrates may know 95% of the material, but if s/he doesn’t take practice exams or knows what the professor is looking for, s/he is going to get crushed by the plumber who knows 20% of the law, but grinds every practice exam, knows how issues are implicated, and how to analyze the way the professor wants.

The student who succeeds in law school is the GRINDER, the one who reads WINNIN’ TIME! to learn how to take an essay and uses The Trigger List to spot all of the issues. Because if you can’t spot an issue, it doesn’t matter what you know or how well you IRAC. You’re screwed.

A note about 3L’s

Having WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List means you don’t have to draft outlines from scratch.

Briefing cases is unrealistic, and so is outlining. So get your bluebook-ready outlines with WINNIN’ TIME! in October/March, take some practice exams in November/April, blow off prep during Thanksgiving/late April, use those two beautiful books the day or two before the exam to save your semester, and excel on exam day.

If you’re taking Evidence, stop EVERYTHING and get WINNIN’ TIME! so you can crush your Evidence final with the undefeated, exceptional Evidence Boilerplate. First one to 20 issues wins, my friends! Or if you’re taking PR, get WINNIN’ TIME! and practice that PR Boilerplate once a week to nail down those CA distinctions, organize by conduct and succeed on exam day!

 

Don’t Be 3 Years Too Late

I Can Help You Now…

Want Next-Level Tutoring Now?

If you are ready for a whole new approach to California Bar Exam Tutoring, customized to your life, Steven is waiting to speak with you. First-time? Repeater? Difficulty Learning? Scheduling Conflicts? No problem. Let’s pass this test!