Law School · Work Life Balance

It’s the Final Countdown: Managing Stress and Time During Law School Finals

A reprieve from what’s to come tomorrow—

Hey, law students, are you feeling a little stressed right now? I remember how HORRIBLE my 1L fall semester was right around the holidays. I still felt academically in the dark about everything; had no idea how to study; was in a nervous wreck about money; and just felt completely lost.


I hope you’re doing better. But it’s tricky because you may think you get it, but you never really know until you’re graded on that god awful curve.  It can feel overwhelming right now as you prepare for something that’s unknown to you.  And even as a 2L, you know what’s coming and you have a plan of attack, but that doesn’t take away the stress of having no time, added responsibilities, and for those that need to do better than they did 1L year or maintain their grades—the need to master finals is very real.

Welcome to Stress Central!

But Finals doesn’t have to be horrible all the time. I mean, it likely will be, but you can take some affirmative steps to make it a little bit better for you!

One. Make a Schedule. This may be a no duh to most people, but scheduling your study periods, the time you need to work on papers, applications, quality time with family will keep you on track. Further, for those that are visual, you’ll see how much time needs to be devoted to certain areas, which helps alleviate the idea that this season is never ending. But don’t just schedule things—have an end date: the last day of finals, holidays, get blackout drunk with friends, whatever–something exciting to look forward to once it’s all over. That always helps me because I would know that no matter what, that date was going to get here and by then I would have gotten through the worst of it.

Two. Nourish yourself. Ok, the truth is when I was in my early-mid 20s, I didn’t cook for ish and didn’t take care of myself like I should. What is meal-planning, even? Look, if I had a big lunch and coffee throughout the day, I would call that a win. Grappling law school along with other forms of “adulting” makes things difficult. I’m not going to tell you to start meal-planning a few weeks before finals. But, you are eating (omg, please eat something!), so make an effort that you’re eating things that provide you with nourishment for your body and mind. Make that one of your goals as well—and if need to, put it on your schedule.

Three. Ask for help. If you have questions about the exam, the subjects etc. seek out info now, rather than later. But aside from school, if you need help with childcare, pet care, or need your roommates to give you some slack in your chores—ask for it upfront now while things are still a little relaxed. Be upfront that the next few weeks will be tough and that you need specific help during this time.

Fourth. Nourish yourself. Yes, it’s on here twice. You’re not going to have time to take a whole day off to do self-care and even the normal routine of exercising frequently or whatever isn’t going to necessarily make it on your schedule when it comes down to the count. But, make sure you’re taking some time to breathe—try to get rest, don’t over-caffeinate yourself, don’t feel guilty if you can’t meet all your obligations—you’re number one goal is to do your best, and to do well, on these exams. That can’t happen if you’re not in a the right mental state.

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