Monday, February 25, 2019

My 1L Winter Break

Exams are one of the most widely-feared parts of law school. To a certain extent, I think that their reputation is undeserved, at least for those who prepare. I had several exams in my classes this semester. Overall, my exams were tough but manageable. I had two finals and two midterms. While these exams were in different classes, each one was about 4 hours and they were spaced about four days apart. Each exam had both multiple choice and essay questions.

Everything you've learned over an entire semester is covered in an exam that lasts just a few hours, so if you want to do well, it's extremely important to practice writing exam answers. It’s also important to think through the implications of both the question and the answer that you’re going to give to the question before you begin writing your answer. The essay questions are the hard part, as one might guess. Where multiple choice questions allow you to feel secure in the knowledge that the correct answer is, generally, staring you in the face and just waiting to be revealed, essay questions are another issue altogether. Where multiple choice questions provide a rock to rest on, an assurance that the correct answer is there, essay questions are like plunging into a wave-tossed sea or the void, with nothing but your own resources and knowledge to fall back on.

But don’t panic, really. They’re not all that bad if you put some effort into preparing and come to class each day prepared to learn.

Fortunately, my exams eventually came to an end and I was able to enjoy my break. While I do enjoy law school, sometimes it's nice to take a break from the studying. I was fortunate enough to be able to go snowboarding in Big Bear and to spend a few days in New York. In Big Bear, I went down my first black diamond run, which was a huge accomplishment for me. In New York, I visited the Natural History Museum and saw American Son on Broadway. Kerry Washington’s performance in American Son was moving, and I found myself relating the play’s issues of race and police force to issues discussed in my criminal law class.

Much of law school can often feel theoretical, but it opens your eyes to viewing the world in a different light. While the stress of law school and studying for exams can give you tunnel vision, the changes in understanding and perception make the hours reading cases and studying for exams feel meaningful and worthwhile. While receiving a high grade on an exam feels wonderful, the direct application of that knowledge and the ability to analyze societal issues in a legal context is equally, if not more, satisfying.

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