One of the biggest difference between undergrad and law school is that in undergrad, you go into finals with a basic idea of what your grade will be in that class. In law school, all of your grade is dependent on this one final exam, and you have little idea what your grade will be or even if you are truly understanding the concepts of the course.
So unlike undergrad, where you can turn in your bluebook and move on–law school finals stick with you for a long time. There’s always a little bug in your head reminding you that grades are coming and it makes you worry about how you performed. The time between finals and the release of grades can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, which you may manifest in unhealthy ways.
So what’s the number one rule you should follow after law school finals? Don’t talk about the fucking exam! Sorry to be blunt, but seriously #DTATFE. Everyone says this, but few students follow this rule. Instead, you begin to dissect the answers and questions so much that you end up doubting what you wrote and then cast a long shadow of doubt and fear during your break. Don’t do that to yourself!
Rule No. 1: Don’t bring up the exam with other students. Don’t be the one that starts to create this mindscrew with other people. Even if you desperately want to know–don’t do it. Nothing they say will make you feel better, and it will likely make you feel worse.
Rule No. 2: Don’t engage with students that are talking about the tests. Make a deal with your friends upfront that you won’t discuss the test and hold each other to it. I made this mistakes many times because I was so desperate to get some type of affirmation after the test that I figured that hearing what other people wrote would make me feel better. This totally backfired after my international business final where a few of us realized we had misread Subsidary with Subsidiary (which totally changes your answers). The weeks leading up to the release of our grades was really frustrating because I kept kicking myself for making such a dumb mistake and was so nervous about how bad my grade would be. Why add this stress to your life?
Rule No. 3: Don’t rehash your answers even to yourself. Don’t use your precious free time to re-hash things you wrote or how you approached an essay before grades are released. Remember that once your exam is submitted there’s nothing you can do. No amount of analysis will change what you’ve already done so don’t hamper your mental health by re-living things you can’t change.
Instead, when friends are talking about the exam–state that you don’t want to talk about it and try to change the subject. And when you can’t let up and find yourself constantly questioning what you wrote then do your best to distract yourself. Catch up on TV, go work out, watch videos of cats on YouTube—whatever takes the anxiety away.
By the time you’re a 3L the need to analyze will diminish and you won’t be as fearful because you’ll have a better understanding of how the system works. But in the meantime, do yourself and your friends of favor and don’t talk about the exam!