How to Excel on an At-Home Law School Exam


As a result of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, many law students will take law school final exams at home. This is a big change from the traditional law school exam given back in “precedented times”. You can take full advantage of the at-home law school exam format by tailoring your studying to this unique testing style. 

Here are some of our top tips for excelling on an at-home law school exam.  

Take it seriously

You may not feel the same pressure when studying for an at-home law school exam as you may feel if you were taking a traditional in-person exam. So, keep in mind that your final exam will directly impact your class ranking. You should take it very seriously and study like you would for any other important exam.

Consider using scents to study

One advantage of taking an at-home exam is that you can use scents to boost your studying efforts! Spray lavender, rosemary, or another scent in your room when you are studying. Spray this same scent when you are taking the exam. Smelling the scent will trigger the memory  stored in your brain from when you were studying.

Make it as fragrant as you want! Since you are taking the exam at home, you will not be bothering others. 

Set up your space ahead of time

Clean off your desk. Get rid of anything that could serve as a distraction. If your exam is open book, make plenty of room for any books or outlines you may want to consult so that you are not trying to find your study materials during valuable exam time. 

Make sure your laptop, keyboard, and internet are working ahead of time. Double-check everything a few days or at least the day before the exam so that you feel confident the morning of the test. 

Organize your study materials if you have an open-book exam

If you have an open-book exam, you still need to outline the law, learn it, and be able to apply it on exam day. Thus, studying for an open-book exam shouldn’t be that much different than studying for a closed-book exam.

However, if your exam is open book, make sure to organize your study materials so if you need to look up a rule, you can find it quickly and efficiently. 

Two ways to do this include: 

  1. Tab your outline. Print your outline and organize it by tabs. Do this ahead of time so you can use your tabbed outline when you study and practice finding the information you need.
  2. Make a rules cheat sheet. Writing all of the rules in a condensed space can be helpful for two reasons. First, it is a way to actively review the law and get a bigger picture of the rules. Second, if you are permitted to use your study materials on an exam, it is a very easy way to find the rules you may need to recite in your exam answer.

Exercise your mind and body 

Get your mind moving before the exam. Do not do anything too intensive before the final exam. Instead, lightly review the law, read the news, or write in a journal.  

If you have time for a brief workout or to go on a quick walk, then do so! This can also help you feel awake and confident! 

Dress up

Since you are not going into a classroom, you may be tempted to wear your pajamas or dress in the most comfortable way possible.

However, we recommend you dress up for your exam. Wear something that is comfortable and makes you feel good about yourself. Take time to shower and get ready. You are less likely to feel sluggish. And more likely to feel ready to conquer the exam. 

Get excited

If you are feeling nervous for your final exam, channel this nervousness into excitement. Studies show that those who feel excited (rather than anxious) prior to taking an exam perform better. So get excited to take the final exam. After all, you are one step closer to becoming a lawyer!