The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Exam Tips

For all of you law students (or students in general) , to help you through the most stressful portion of the year.

Tip 1

First, do not assume that your classmates are stupid. Many of them undoubtedly are, but those same stupid people managed to weasel into your law school, and there is no reason that they can not weasel their way into an obscenely high grade. I’ve actually witnessed students counting up the “smart people” (SP) in the class (gunners + silent anti-social types/total students = “smart people ratio” (SPR)) in order to determine whether or not it is worth it to even attempt to study hard enough for an “honor grade” (SPR > X > DPR where X is a student who is bothering to perform this calculation), and decide that studying is just a waste of time (numbers don’t lie!).

If you catch yourself doing this, remember that your math skills are probably not very good, so you should be extra careful. Also remember that just because someone asks the property professor whether or not “eminent domain” is where the King of England lives does not mean that this person will not study harder than you in the three days before the final. Stupid people occasionally perform well, gunners contract mono (although they don’t contract it in the typical way, for obvious reasons), and you can beat them all if you put in the time.

Tip 2

Don’t cook. Don’t eat out. A few weeks before your finals, you should go to the grocery store (you need to get coffee anyway. Get Starbucks whole bean, it has more caffeine per serving than anything else does) and buy Hot Pockets, perhaps the single greatest technological advancement in law school finals cuisine since the Moon Pie. Anything that resembles a Hot Pocket is OK too. Pop-Tarts, pizza rolls, etc. It must cook in less than three minutes and require no silverware to eat. Ordering pizza is all right in limited circumstances, however you should have coupons and topping choices pre-selected. In a pinch you should keep a Sam’s Club size jar of beef jerky available. After all, scurvy and rickets won’t keep you from doing poorly on the final, but lack of study time will.

Tip 3

Get your bow-legged tooth-loosing black-gummed self to the library. Your house contains many items not conducive to studying. Your bed, a pool table, dark beer, this internet thing, comfy chairs, the anonymous woman who is still in your bed for some reason even though it’s three in the afternoon, books, bright, shiny objects, all could potentially distract you from the task at hand. Get thee to a library!

And when you go, unplug the wi-fi card from your laptop. Just because you stare at your computer while in the library does not mean that you have studied. Playing on-line Texas hold ’em will not help you pass Constitutional Law. Tax maybe, but not Con law (yet). Do not study by other people either.

You should join at least one study group. They are gigantic wastes of time, but you have probably missed something important over the course of the semester and you need to see someone else’s notes. Ideally, you should show up to the group, take a look at someone else’s outline, offer nothing of substance, fake a headache and leave. If you already obtained someone else’s outline you need not bother with this.

Tip 4

Don’t shave.

What, do you have a date or something? In fact, why shower? Stinking can only help you in the exam room.

Tip 5

It’s too late for tips 5 and 6 to help most of you, but you can use them next year. When you are given the option of an in-class exam v. a take home exam, always pick in-class. I can’t stress this enough. In-class exams are limited to 3 hours or so, and consequently they are limited as to what they can test you on. In-class exams must focus on important things. Take home exams can go on forever, and you know that there is that one kid who’s going to write like 100 pages of pure brilliance (note: If you are that kid, you should not only choose a take home, but also push for the take home to be mandatory). Take home exams are not more difficult, but they are more tedious. They consume time that could be spent on things like studying for other finals and heating up Hot Pockets.

Tip 6

On the first day of class some stupid kid almost always asks if the exam is hard. Do not ask this question. This is not in and of itself a stupid question, but the underlying intent in asking this question is almost always “will I do well?” The answer is that if you are a fairly smart person, and your exam is graded on a curve, you will do better if the exam is harder. Easy exams sometimes allow for less talented individuals to fudge there way into a good grade. The more stupid people manage to BS their way into a good grade, the more you stand to lose from a stupid mistake or an ill-timed sneeze. Hard exams, on the other hand, tend to crush and bury the unprepared. So if you’re asking this question hoping that the answer is “easy” then the odds are that you will not do as well, because you are obviously hoping to BS your way through it and you lack confidence in your abilities.

Just follow these simple steps and everything will work out fine. And remember to keep the detox center's number in your cell phone for the day after.

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