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Boley Blog: Tips for Taking Exams at Home

by Mari Cheney on 2020-04-14T14:52:00-07:00 | Comments

undefinedAre you worried about taking all of this semester's exams at home? While we can't soothe all your fears, we've rounded up some great tips from L&C Law School staff members (who have all taken law school exams!) on how to do your best during this unique exam season. 

Before You Start the Exam

  1. Eat a power breakfast/lunch.
  2. Dress the way you would have if you were taking the exam at school; for some, this means dressing up but for others, it means dressing "comfy."
  3. Make sure to have technical support numbers nearby just in case you encounter difficulty with the exam software or with your Internet connection.
  4. Communicate with everyone in your household what your exam schedule will be and notify them that you are about to need a quiet, supportive time block. Your roommates or family will be more aware and respectful, except for maybe your cat. 
  5. Gather everything that will help you perform your best and set it out around you to help you, such as scratch paper and pen, and books and notes if they are permitted. Pick your most comfortable chair (or most uncomfortable if that would help you focus) and a desk or table that puts your computer at the best height possible for ease of typing.
  6. If you have them, use a good pair of noise-canceling headphones if a quiet exam-taking space is unavailable. 
  7. Take your dog out right before starting the exam. 
  8. Prepare your test-taking area in a way that allows you to see your space as an exam space: light a candle, rearrange things so the place feels mentally different than the same place you've been studying for the past few weeks. 
  9. Remove all digital and physical distractions from the exam-taking space; if the wall calendar makes you edgy, take it down. If the photo on the fridge is crooked, move it. 
  10. Recreate the exam pickup process. Make exam time feel different than ordinary time at home: when you are ready to start a timed exam, walk outside the house and take a lap outside, then come back in the front door as though you are coming back from the registrar with your test in order to simulate the exam pickup.
  11. Come up with a time budget before you start.
  12. Study where you plan on taking the exam.

During the Exam

  1. If you have a door you can close to have a private space, definitely do that, and put a sign on your door that alerts people when you are in an exam time in case they forget. 
  2. If you have kids or others in your household who might have a need to interrupt you, make it a team effort: give them an "exam" too, like a coloring book, or an essay to write and make sure they have lots of snacks they can get independently for the time when you need to uninterrupted. 
  3. Another tip for exam taking with kids: if you don't have on-site support, ask a friend or family member to babysit virtually. The babysitter can read books, play games, and more with your child. If no virtual help is possible, take the exam during nap time or after the child has gone to bed (and hope they sleep through the night!). 
  4. Just do your best. That's all anyone can ask of you. Your best right now may look different than your best in other (less traumatic, strange) times.
  5. If it is a longer exam, take stretch breaks. 

After the Exam

  1. After the exam has been reviewed by the professor, it is a good idea to follow up with your professor for more detailed feedback. Because pass/fail doesn't provide the most specific measure of your performance, this allows you to get the most out of the semester in terms of learning. 
  2. Don't compare how it went with other students. The compare game is not your friend, especially now.

Thank you to Devra Hermosilla, Holly Puckett, Mimi Huang, Jim Kite, Meredith Kostek, and Mari Cheney for their suggestions. 

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