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Helpful Tips

  • 10 Stress Busters

    10 Stress Busters


    Tis’ the season for stress.  Consider using the following quick tips to lower stress:

    • Try not to procrastinate.  The longer you put off a task, the more onerous it becomes.  Stress builds as the guilt builds.  Stress builds as the deadline gets closer and time runs out. 
    • Do practice exams.  Your stress will be greater if you have done very few practice questions.  Practice questions ahead of the exam allow you to monitor your understanding of the content, apply the content to new fact scenarios, practice exam-taking strategies, and practice some questions under timed conditions.
    • Do your hardest or least liked task first.  That way it will not hang over you all day and increase your stress.
    • Break down any task into smaller steps.  It is less stressful to contemplate reading just one case than to approach 35 pages of reading for a course.  After the first case, contemplate just the second case, and so forth.
    • Learn just two or three rules at a time.  Memory will work better when not overloaded.  Your stress will go down as you succeed in remembering smaller amounts of material at one time.
    • Ask for help.  If you hit a wall on understanding a concept, ask a classmate or professor for assistance.  Stress increases dramatically when you stubbornly keep on struggling alone with only frustration as payoff.
    • Plan now so that you don’t oversleep for your exams.  Are you like me?  Can you hit the snooze button seven times before waking up?  Plan now to set multiple alarms.  Have a friend and a family member call you in the morning to make sure you are awake.  And finally, get 8 hours of sleep before each exam.
    • Plan now so that you don’t run out of time on the exams.  It is important to finish all questions on the exam.  Having to rush to finish increases stress.  Distribute your time wisely by making a time chart as soon as the exam begins.  Note the times that you must begin and end questions.  For each fact-pattern-essay question, divide the amount of time for that question between reading, analyzing, and organizing (1/3) and writing (2/3).  For multiple-choice questions, determine time checkpoints and the number of questions you must complete by that time (for example, 15 after 1/2 hour; 30 after 1 hour; 45 after 1 1/2 hours; 60 after 2 hours). 
    • List four things you plan to do for fun during semester break.  Read the list often.  You will be less stressed knowing you have things to look forward to once exams are over. 
    • Go to the movies.  Sitting in a dark movie theater watching an enjoyable film allows you to get completely away from the law school grind and escape into another existence.

    Manage your stress so that it does not manage you.  The sooner you implement stress busters into your regimen, the more likely you can prevent stress from getting out of hand.

    December 2, 2015 | Tags: stress
  • Helping You Manage Stress and Cope with the Next Few Weeks

    Helping You Manage Stress and Cope with the Next Few Weeks


    These tips are not in any particular order as to priority. 

    • Break every task down into small steps.  It is easier to motivate yourself to complete a small task.  You will feel less stressed about the progress you are making because small tasks will get crossed off your list more quickly.
    • Get assistance from others when you are confused about course material.  Go to your professors during office hours.  Go to your Morris Fellow or Littleton Fellow.  Ask questions of classmates who understand the material.  Work with a study partner or group to review material.
    • After you have intensely reviewed a major topic in the outline and you have done practice questions, condense that portion of the outline by at least half.  Start a second document that is the condensed outline so that the longer version is never lost.
    • Approximately one - two weeks before the exam, condense the entire outline to 5-10 pages of essentials for the material so far.  The essentials will bring back the more detailed information if the material has been studied properly.  Use the condensed outline to recall the information. 
    • Condense the shorter outline again to the front and back of a sheet of paper.  This condensed version can be memorized as a checklist for a closed-book exam.  When the proctor in the exam tells you to begin, quickly write your checklist on scrap paper and use it as a guide throughout the exam. 
    • Do practice exams as soon as you have completed your outline for the course (and even if you have not, still do practice exams).  Do the practice exams under time pressure and stick to the exact time allotted by the professor for each question.  The more questions you do, the more confident and less stressed you will be in the exam.  A myriad of fact scenarios during your studying means you will be less likely to meet something on the exam that you have never thought about previously.  And you will be more aware of nuances when applying the law.
    • Realize that the first practice exam will likely make you feel worse.  But that’s fine.  That’s normal.  The first exam is to help you understand how fast three hours goes.  Its purpose is to teach you what you don’t know, not what you do know.  Use that to study from your outline further.  Then practice with another exam.  This exam will go better for you than the first.  But there is still more to learn.  It’s only by about the third or fourth practice exam that you will truly start to get better and faster.
    • Become an even nicer person.  You will feel better about yourself and lower your stress if you focus on others rather than yourself.  Help another student who doesn’t understand a topic.  Take cookies to your study group.  Volunteer in class when another student is floundering in answering a question.
    November 25, 2014 | Tags: stress
  • Dealing with negativity

    Stress and anxiety are increasing as the semester reaches the halfway point.  Some of you may not be sleeping well, feel that you cannot focus, procrastinate and feel guilty about our academics.  You may feel that everyone else “gets it” when you don’t.  Or you are so behind in your reading that you cannot catch up.  Or that you are not paying enough attention to those outside of law school.  Or that you’ll simply never understand the subjects. 

    Instead of accepting this negativity, rebut it and refuse to blindly accept it as true.  The rebuttal should take a more positive position and determine a strategy to resolve any problem.  Examples of rebuttals to the negative self-talk above might be:

    • Realistically, I am not the only person who is confused.  I can get clarification from my professor/Littleton Fellow, Morris Fellow/study group by asking questions.
    • I am behind in my reading and have a strategy for catching up.  I’ll stay current with my new reading and slip in back reading one case at a time next week.
    • I am not a bad person.  I am balancing my time between school and personal obligations.  My family members and friends understand the importance of school.
    • This course is hard, but I can learn it.  I will spend some time today writing down my questions and talking to my professor.

    There are other actions that can also assist in dealing with negativity in one’s outlook.  By following some simple steps, life begins to look less awful:

    • Get enough sleep.  At least 7 hours.  With appropriate rest, our brains are more alert and productive.  And problems do not seem as overwhelming.
    • Exercise.  Exercise is one of the best stress busters. 
    • Eat nutritious meals.  Our bodies and brains perform better when we include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat or fish in our diets.  Junk food, sugary snacks and drinks, caffeine, and processed foods provide less nutrition.  And skipping meals is total no-no! 
    • Surround yourself with positive people.  Avoid fellow students who are complaining, moaning, and groaning.  You can take on their negativity if you are not careful.
    • Break larger tasks into very small steps.  You will feel more motivated and confident about completing a small step when the larger task seems too overwhelming.
    • Remember that you are the same very bright and capable person who entered law school.  You are dealing with challenging material and are among others who are equally bright.  If you use the many resources available to you, you can learn more efficient and effective strategies for your studies that will help you succeed.
    • Seek medical advice if necessary.  If the negativity makes you ill or turns into depression, go to a doctor or counselor for assistance.
    November 4, 2014 | Tags: negativity

 This page will be updated with tips and helpful suggestions for your 1L year. Please check back after orientation for updates.