5 Things That Would have Changed my 1L Grades

Hello friends!

I know I have not posted much law school content lately. It is harder now that I am out of school. Because I am not confronted with the problems of law school daily, I find myself rarely thinking about it and even more rarely blogging about it. I promise to still do some law school content and my previously written law school content will never go away. But, as my life changes and evolves, I want this blog to do so with me. Law school is a temporary endeavor so I want my followers to be able to follow along in post-grad, work life, and everything that happens after law school so I can continue to be a resource.

Now back to the post for today: I have never made a secret of the fact that I had a hard first semester of law school. My grades were not what I wanted and I even failed one of my classes and had to retake it. The more I look back on my law school experience, the more obvious it has become to me what went wrong that first semester. Some people are naturally good at law school- I was not one of them. Multiple choice and bar style essays did not come naturally nor easily to me. I worked as hard as I could but the work I was doing was less effective than it could have been. I tried my best but my grades suffered.

Moving into my second semester and beyond, I took a good, hard look at what worked for me and what didn't and adjusted accordingly. My second semester saw a dramatic jump in my GPA and my grades were significantly improved. Throughout law school, my GPA rose steadily and I did very well. Law school was a major learning curve for me and it took a rough semester to figure a lot of the tricks out.

I know many of you are coming off of first semester disappointed in your grades as I was despite the hard work you put in. I am sharing some of the things I wish I had the first semester of my 1L year that in hindsight likely would have made for better grades. Further, use these tips to move forward stronger and have a killer second semester. It is completely possible!

1. Critical Pass
I had no idea these existed during law school nor my first round with the bar exam. I purchased them to prep for the February Bar Exam and holy crap- gamechangers!!!! They are clear, to the point statements of the law. I struggled so much during my first semester with determining what law I was supposed to have memorized. Having these to utilize to pinpoint the relevant law and start memorizing it earlier would have been a huge boost to my grades!

Critical Pass offers both law school subject cards as well as bar exam cards. I cannot suggest both enough!!! If you are interested, you can get 10% off your own Critical Pass notecards by following this link: http://criticalpass.refr.cc/brandyb

2. Talk to Professors
One thing I have mentioned a lot on the blog is how helpful talking through the law with your professors can be. The earlier you start doing this, the better! Not only does it aid your understanding of the law already covered, it will help you understand what to do moving forward. Moreover, come exam time, you are going to understand the professor and how they think so much better based on your communication with them which will help you write essays which will resonate with them and result in higher grades. I waited until way too late my first semester of law school to put all of this into action. In later semesters, I was able to do this and my grades would be significantly better as a result.

3. Practice Essays and Multiple Choice
I simply cannot stress enough how important it is to do practice essays and multiple choice going into exams. I did not know this during my first semester. I thought simply understanding and memorizing the law was enough. I was SO wrong in this thought process. For law school exams, you have to have a strategy for how to answer multiple choice and how to write effective essay responses. These skills will become strong through practice, like anything else.

There are many resources for practice questions. Check out the supplement books, Themis bar prep free resources and your casebooks. Further, some professors will hand out old exams for this exact purpose. Do them and go over them with the professors. It will help immensely!!!


4. Work Smarter
My first semester of law school, I convinced myself that if I just spent more hours than anyone else, it would result in good grades. I was SO WRONG. You have to work hard and long hours in law school. There is no way around that. But if the tactics you use are not effective, no matter how many hours you put in, your grades will suffer. The best thing I learned after first semester was to work smarter not harder. I put time into determining what was most effective for me to spend time doing instead of just spinning my wheels and assuming the endless hours would be enough. If something isn't truly working, doing it more will never do you any good.

So, I suggest talking with professors to identify where you went wrong if you had less than stellar grades. Talk to trusted friends who studied differently and see if you can pick up a new tactic. Reach out to upperclassmen for ideas. The worst thing you can do following a semester where you worked hard but your grades didn't show it is fail to change it up.

5. Start Testing Yourself Earlier 
One mistake I made during my first semester of law school was to wait until days before the exam to begin testing myself over the material. This left me with less time to identify my weak areas and fix them before exam time. Memorization is great but it doesn't always show you where your application skills fall short. For example, you may know the rule for Hearsay cold (an our of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted). But if you can't spot hearsay as an issue or know how to effectively apply the rule in an essay, you are not going to score as highly on the exam. I realized after first semester that starting to work in multiple choice and essay practice throughout the semester allowed me to identify problem areas earlier so I could seek more help on them before exam time.

Please learn from my mistakes and crush those exams!

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