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*First-time UBE takers who completed at least 75% of Quimbee Bar Review or Quimbee Bar Review+. The margin of error is 5.9%.
Law School Success

1L Year: How to Succeed in Your Second Semester of Law School

1L Year: How to Succeed in your Second Semester of Law School
When I returned to campus for the second semester of law school, the results of first-semester exams still hung heavily in the air. Students who had participated confidently in class discussions during the fall semester now fell silent. But you don’t have to let disappointing results in the first semester of law school hold you back. Use the new semester to regroup, regain your confidence, and succeed.

Rest, Relax, Recharge

Put recovery first on your list. Use the semester break to recharge from a stressful first semester of law school. Sleep without fear of missing early morning classes. Read something other than a hefty casebook. Visit with friends and talk about something other than your professors’ zany hypotheticals. Use the break to get some space from law school.

Autopsy Exam Mistakes

When you’re mentally ready, autopsy your first-semester performance. Very few 1Ls emerge from the first semester with a top score in every class, but careful self-reflection leads to improved performance in the second semester. Analyze exams in which you underperformed, and look out for the following common mistakes.

Discussing issues that fall outside the essay question prompt

Professors typically mark down an answer that analyzes irrelevant issues. For example, an answer that discusses negligence in response to a question about intentional torts won’t earn points. 

Adjust your approach to succeed on your next exam. Read the question prompt first, before you dive into the fact pattern. Underline any limitations given in the question. Return to the question prompt before you start writing to confirm you’re on the right track.

Flubbing the rule 

A good portion of your exam score is devoted to rules. If you have the opportunity, compare the rules in your answer to a sample answer, rubric, or grading memo your professor provides. If your rule lacks the same level of depth and detail, that’s a cue to reconsider your exam preparation strategies.

Plan to spend time this semester creating an exam-focused course outline. An exam-focused outline is organized according to legal concepts covered in your course and contains comprehensive rule statements that produce correct analysis. For tricky concepts, include a factual illustration from a case or a hypothetical given in class. It’ll make the concept easier to remember and apply on the exam.

Incompletely or incorrectly applying law to fact

Typically, application receives the highest point allocations on law school essay exams. After all, applying the law is a core lawyering skill. There’s more than 1 way to miss out on points in the application section. Consider these problems:
  • Did you recite facts without applying the rules? Weak application sections recite only facts. To earn more points next time, make explicit links between the facts and the legal conclusion. 
  • Did you omit relevant facts? Strong exam analysis makes use of all determinative facts provided in the hypothetical. Hone your skills by working with practice essay questions this semester. And try this trick to incorporate more facts in your application sections: X out facts on the hypothetical as you use them in your answer. If you see a large swath of text in the hypothetical with no Xs, return to it. Perhaps you missed something!
  • Did you omit counteranalysis, discussing the issue as though it were one-sided? Some issues warrant discussing both sides. Practice writing application sections that present the strongest argument followed by the opposing side’s argument.
With careful self-reflection, you can bounce back from disappointing first-semester exam performance. If you’re unsure of what went wrong on an exam, seek help from a peer, or make an appointment with your professor or an academic-success instructor. An outside perspective can help you determine what went wrong and how to adjust your approach.

Streamline Class Preparation in Favor of Exam Preparation

In the first semester, you were busy learning the language of the law, and it might’ve taken you hours to plow through your casebook readings. As you’ve now learned, succeeding on law school exams requires much more than simply being prepared for each day of class. The students who ace the exam have spent time synthesizing the course material into an outline and have sharpened their legal-analysis skills with practice essays and multiple-choice questions. 

In your second semester, aim to spend less time preparing for class and more time on exam prep. You’ll still have meaty casebook readings, but you can approach them with greater efficiency. Try these tips:
  • Preread a case brief to increase speed. Skilled readers use reading cues to speed through assignments. Before you dig into the casebook, read an expert-drafted case brief or watch a case brief video to comprehend your reading faster.
  • Focus on the main idea. Expert casebook readers also read selectively, with greater focus on important parts. Cases often discuss multiple points of law, but the casebook editor typically has just 1 point of law in mind as the teachable point. Focus on the facts, reasoning, and holding on that teachable point. Deploy a quick reading speed for everything else.
Quimbee has your back in law school and beyond. Expert-written case briefs, outlines, and a practice-oriented bar review course give you the edge you’ll need to ace law school finals and conquer the bar exam.

Make your first attempt at the bar exam your last with Quimbee

  • 91% bar exam pass rate*
  • 100% money-back guarantee
  • 1,600+ real questions from past bar exams
*First-time UBE takers who completed at least 75% of Quimbee Bar Review or Quimbee Bar Review+. The margin of error is 5.9%.

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