Instead, I'm hoping you're reading this because you have done all of the above but like most good law students are still feeling pretty intimidated by law school exams. You have worked hard all semester but have a sneaking suspicion that you are going to need that extra "edge" in order to earn that "A" of "A+" position on the grading curve.
There are law school "success" books that advocate throwing away your casebook, avoid attending class and limiting your reading to commercial outlines. There are also books and courses that claim to contain secret formulae that will enable you to raise above the masses and earn those cherished "As". However, as students who have done well in law school know and despite the prevalence of law school study aids purporting to give you an edge, the truth is that there is no way around the hard work and preparation required, in order to master the material and demonstrate mastery, in order to optimize your chances of doing well.
Further, if you have worked hard, faithfully attended class and worked diligently, you have created for yourself an excellent platform from which to succeed on exams. My hope is that you have adopted the advice contained in my book, and especially utilized the "Pyramid Outline" method. Regardless, if you have kept up with the reading and class discussions, and captured both in your class outline, you have already done much of the heavy lifting required to increase your chances of success.
That said, now that you are in the final stretch of your semester, the follow "dos" and "don'ts" are suggestions that you may find helpful as you allocate the precious time remaining before exams:
1. Do review and distill the information contained in your class notes and outlines. A fundamental principle of active learning is engaging yourself with the material. In terms of law school exams, the best way to do this is to digest and distill the vast amount of information you read and hear during the semester into an "outline" and then distill the outline ultimately into a few pages, which serve simply as a memory prompter.
2. Don't spend a lot of your precious study time re-reading cases. Cases are intended to teach a point of law, or a trend or change in the law, or illustrate legal reasoning or a legal principle. The facts of these cases are the vehicle for such teaching, however, memorizing these facts will not help at exam-time.
3. Do practice writing exams, especially under timed conditions, and check your answers against the model answer, if available. Your law school library probably has old exams on file. There are also many other ways to find practice law school exams, including on the internet and through commercial study aids. It is critical that you practice writing exams that are organized and cohesive. All of the black letter law on the planet will not earn you an "A", if you cannot articulate a readable and cogent exam answer. Of course, you have to know the black letter law, in order to spot legal issues. But my point is that you must not overlook this critical step in your exam preparation.
4. Do not throw out your basic writing skills, in the midst of the law school exam fray. Law professors are people too. They value penmanship (it makes grading exams infinitely easier), shorter sentences and active verb uses. A sure way to irritate the grader and reduce your chances of a decent grade is to write a messy, rambling answer.
5. Do use headings and subheadings liberally. These can make your exam easier to understand and provide the grader with a roadmap to your answer.
6. Do not begin writing until you have a pretty good idea of what your answer is going to look like. The best way to do this is by creating a short outline of your answer. Once the exam begins, you will see people immediately begin writing. You will be tempted to start writing for fear of being left behind. I suggest that you avoid the temptation.
7. Do follow any instructions your professor has given you, either during the semester or in the exam itself. Another way to irritate the grader is to not follow instructions. Also, I suggest you read through the entire exam, in order to ensure that you properly allocate available time. As I discussed in my book, the worst kind of surprise at hour two and a half of a three hour exam is to find out the exam contains three questions, instead of the two because you overlooked a question. "A+" answers to the first two questions, followed by a "C" answer to the last overlooked question, will likely average out to a less than desirable grade.
8. Do adopt "on the one hand, on the other hand" as your exam mantra. Everything in law school- from facts to the law, and everything in between can be argued at least two ways. I discuss this critical component of law school exam in "Law School Labyrinth" in more detail, but suffice it to say that if you find yourself arguing only one side you will likely lose points due to conclusory thinking. And there is nothing more offensive to law professors than conclusory thinking.
I wish you success on your exams. This is the opportunity to demonstrate the product of your hard work over the semester. Law school exams are typically difficult. They have to be, otherwise the grader will have no objective way to disperse the grades along the recommended grading curve. But then again, someone has to get the "A"s and A+"s. And it might as well be you.