We Believe in You

“Keep taking deep breaths to help you concentrate and calm your nerves. Try the “box breathing” technique when you feel overwhelmed and need to re-center yourself. Here is one description, there are many other videos and descriptions online.”

Good luck. You’ve got this! As Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh: “. . . Always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.
- Dean Eisenberg

“I think making sure students take at least a night off each week to do something they enjoy is critical.” 
- Professor Moon

“Take a music break. My suggestion: Here to There Radio with DJ Spinna, Music From Luther Vandross (Episode 33) (Apple Music).”
- Michael Pinard

Exam Tips

  1. Work together with students in your section and within your class. Maryland Carey is a community built on teamwork. Help each other by reviewing confusing topics, going over complex hypos, and walking through outlines together. Often times, you will learn something even better if you take the opportunity to review it with a friend or classmate.

  2. If you learn best on your own, don’t be afraid to turn down a group study invitation! Everyone has a different way of learning and reviewing, so don’t feel bad if you have a hard time focusing with a group. There are plenty of opportunities to catch up with your friends after finals!
  3. Work on some practice exams! Every professor should have practice exams. Do at least one under timed conditions. Then meet with your study group or review on your own to figure out what you missed.

  4. One exam and one semester will not make or break your ability to be a lawyer! You are capable, smart, and amazing. Believe in yourself and you will be amazing!

  5. Take breaks while studying to let the material settle! No one can study all -day every day without a break! Make sure to take some time offline to relax and rejuvenate. SBA recommends checking out movies like “The Other Guys” and “Dodgeball” for a comedy break and “Legally Blonde” for obvious reasons. Also check out the Lo-fi Hip Hop Beats playlist on Youtube for a soothing ambience.

  6. Meditation during the exam. Sometimes the hypos or questions or whatever it is can feel overwhelming. We have doubts about our intelligence in the moment or the like. When you feel these things, take 5 seconds for you. Close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose, then out through your mouth. Do that two or three times and then get back into it!


  • Make your own outline
  • Commercial supplements can be helpful if you are struggling with a particular topic within a subject, but try not to rely on them in making your outline; your outline needs to cover what your professor taught you, not what some other professor somewhere thinks
  • Be precise. Use language from controlling authority.

Structure of a Law School Exam Answer:


Common Mistakes:

  • Student misreads the facts.
  • Student answers a different question.
  • Student word-vomits.
  • Student writes a policy essay.
  • Student runs out of time.
  • Student learns 85-90% of the materials.

Exam tips:

  • Professors love teaching, they don’t love grading
  • So make it as painless as possible
    • Write clearly: simple, straightforward prose
    • This is not the time to show off your M.A. in comp. literature
    • FORMULAIC: the formula is IRAC (more on this in a minute)
    • Talk through every step you take. It’s like math teachers telling you to show your work
    • A significant part of what you are being tested on is issue-spotting, and the ability to synthesize and apply rules.
  • What are you being tested on?

Study Hard, but Take Breaks and Be Happy

  • Take a night off once a week
  • Reward yourself
  • Leave the law school sometimes and avoid stress by osmosis [this is, I believe, facilitated by COVID-19]

When Professor Robertson was a 1L, BARBRI invited Professor Richard Freer from Emory to give a session about taking law school exams. Professor Robertson took the following notes from the "6 points" presentation:

1) Budget your time. If the question says it's a 45-minute question, do not spend 46 minutes. You're just shorting yourself on another question.

2) Do 1 question at a time. Don't read a question until you're about to do it--you'll just create opportunity to confuse yourself about facts.

3) Read every question twice. The 1st read is a quick skim to get the facts; then read the "call" of the question very carefully--where it says, "Argue for the Plaintiff" or "Evaluate possible arguments for both sides" or "What will the outcome be" or whatever. Carefully note any assumptions or exclusions, like "Do not consider possible defenses." Then read the question very carefully a second time, keeping the task you're supposed to write in mind.

4) For EVERY issue, state the rule, apply the rule to the facts, state the conclusion. Yes, it's mechanical. But a conclusion w/o rule or facts gets you no points.

5) Expect Ambiguity. Your answer is less important than the process. You'll see questions where there is ambiguity in the law, and Qs with ambiguity in the facts. The point of the exam is to demonstrate your ability to reason based on what you know. Don't stress that your conclusion might be "wrong"; there is no wrong. Analyze and apply rules well on the way to your conclusion and you'll get full points.

6) Use the facts. Facts are in the Q for a reason, and each is probably applicable to some piece of the applying the rule. The professor put the fact there so you can give it back in the analysis.

Additional notes that were not among his "6 points":
Don't start writing too soon. Spend maybe 1/3 of the time allocated for each question reading the question and outlining your answer. Create yourself a roadmap so you know where you're going and have covered every point; thereafter banging out the writing should be comparatively quick. And don't get freaked out by the person sitting next to you who just starts writing immediately.

Use these words a LOT:

1) "Because" When you say "because" it forces you to explain your reasoning. We're looking for reasoning, not just conclusions.

2) "Here," as in "Here, the amount in dispute is $X" This forces you to apply rules to the facts.

Never assume that the subparts of a question are equally weighted. Demonstrating that you can determine where the big issues are within a fact pattern is part of the test.


SBA Spotify Playlists:

Let's Get Hype for Finals

Yoga | Relaxation | Meditation

Running & Cardio

Relaxation Sites:

Meet the animals at the Maryland Zoo Live Cam (Penguins, Elephants, Lions and Flamingos) 

Enjoy the fishbowl at the National Aquarium – no masks required!

Wellness Resources  (Mental Health, Exercise, Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga

Stress Management During a Pandemic

Take a cooking break:

Compliments of Professor Moon – How to Make Any Kind of Mochi Cake  

Compliments of Professor Pappas – One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

Recipes created by a lawyer, for (future) lawyers LegalEats

Favorite Study Spots Address
3 Bean Coffee 209 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230
Ceremony Coffee  Cross Street Market 1065 S Charles St stall 160
Ceremony Coffee  Mt. Vernon 520 Park Ave
Whitehall Mill 3300 Clipper Mill Rd
The Milk and Honey 906 Washington Blvd - Pigtown
Handlebar Cafe Fells
Red Emma's  Near UB
Fed Hill Park 300 Warren Ave
Riverside Park 301 E. Randall St
Baltimore Museum of Art Sculture Garden 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore

Mental Health Resources

Student Counseling Center - 410-328-8404 or Tele-Talk (for after-hours crisis support, select option 7 after dialing this number)
Student Health Center - 667-214-1899
Psychiatric Urgent Care - 410-328-1219
Lisa Caplan (Lawyer Assistance)- Toll-free confidential help 1-888-388-5459, lisa@msba.org

Additional Resources

Take advantage of the unique atmosphere at Carey School of Law and get to know your professors; they are amazing resources, and many love to talk with students (about class, jobs, their legal career, etc.). Don’t be shy!
Exam questions?  Contact Law-Registration & Enrollment at registration@law.umaryland.edu
Need additional support or resources?  Contact the Office of Student Affairs at osa@law.umaryland.edu