Saturday, December 10, 2005

before the exam

I've decided that law school final exams are like a football game. Never is this more evident than in the hour or so before the exam. Just like in a pre-game locker room, people are doing all sorts of things. Walk into a football locker room and you'll see everything from people sleeping to guys banging their heads on the wall.

In law school you see wome people are frantically going over notes and outlines. Some are calmly flipping through notes and outlines. Others are making a point not to study -- reading the sports section online, listening to headphones, staring into space. For most people the butterflies are there.

You hear a lot of inane conversations about inane things in the classrooms. Oddly, people talk to you who have never spoken a word to you all semester -- probably because they feel connected somehow, like we're all suffering together and they forget that they won't give you the time of day in usual circumstances. Everyone gets ready in a different way so whatever works makes sense. If only you could go hit someone (you know, I mean if you really were playing a football game instead of taking an exam)...

(The one thing I can't understand is when people say "If you don't know it now, you never will." Well that doesn't make any sense. Sure, you might have a tough time learning entirely foreign concepts in the 20 minutes before an exam. But of course you can learn stuff or read stuff that will stick in your brain and that you can use on the exam. If you find a case that you'd forgotten about or see in your outline that this case goes under this rule or that amendment and until now you weren't really sure what to do with the case, well, that means you've learned something that you didn't learn. I'm not saying everyone should be cramming, because I understand that everyone needs to be doing things differently, but to say you can't learn anything in the hour before the exam is absurd.)


At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very insightful post. It is odd how people want to talk to you 20 minutes before the exam when they have never spoken a word to you before. I think your theory holds water although a lot of it has to do with pre-exam jitters and talking to someone somewhat alleviates those butterflies. Further, I have felt that law school, in itself, is very amenable to many of the same traditions of football or in general gamesmanship. Everything done prior to an exam is analogous to football preparation. Watching tape and studying players is akin to reading cases and analyzing judge’s rationalizations. Both of these preparations are done in order to mentally prepare either student or player to act instinctively based on constant practice to different situations. A failure on the field results from failure to perceive prior patterns and to react properly. Similarly, a failure in the classroom stems from the same failure to identify issues and dissect them according to settled doctrine. These parallels could go on ad nauseum but I think your point as well as mine is clear. Law school is a game and preparation always wins.

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Elle Woods said...

People who tell you that if you don't know if now you won't are f*cking annoying. Do they really have any idea how little I've studied? If I can double the time I spent on this shit right before the exam I'd say it's worth my time.


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