As my fellow bloggers have excitedly announced, we are finally done with our examinations. We are done with our first year. This semester was much more challenging and arduous. We were warned that this was going to be the most challenging semester of the whole of law school. So chin up, 1Ls! We made it past this semester, a.k.a the baptism of fire (as one of our lecturers had accurately described).
After I submitted my final paper, I felt listless. It was rather anti-climactic and underwhelming; I thought I’d be more excited and I’d be prancing around after the papers, but it was the opposite. The two weeks of cramming and preparing for four papers really made all of us extremely anxious. I had sleepless nights because my brain was overactive. It simply refused to switch off after a whole day of revision. Looking back on the past year, the semester was really fulfilling despite it being so hectic.
I took some time to reflect upon the semester after the papers. Since I have friends who are incoming 1Ls (welcome!), I thought it apt and helpful to pen my reflection down. These are some tips and advice I wished somebody told me before I embarked on the second semester.
- Take feedback seriously
I cannot emphasise this enough. Take the feedback provided in your assignments seriously if you want to improve. The professors and lecturers are generous and intentional with their feedback and comments when marking assignments. Don’t just read the comments; understand it, digest it. Use the comments like a checklist when reviewing your next written assignment. Ensure you heeded and followed the suggestions. It will pay off. Take at least half an hour to look through your marked assignments, because it is through the feedback that you are able to know what your weaknesses are, and what you really need to work on.
- A support system
This is especially important because of the sheer number of deadlines we had this semester. It was easy to feel unmotivated and dejected. The weekly assignments and quizzes were stressful. Receiving our assignment results that are not up to par after putting in significant time, effort, research, and thought can really cause us to become pessimistic. For my study group, we made it taboo to even speak of failing. This includes dropping out, deferring, etc. Words are powerful and carry great influence and effect. Choose to surround yourself with study mates who are driven and positive, who will speak uplifting words. These are people who will pull you along when you are lagging behind.
- Keep (some of) your textbooks
Don’t sell off all your textbooks when you’re done with them! We had LAW201 (Critical thinking) and LAW203 (legal writing) in our previous semester. These are foundational knowledge and all your other law courses will be built upon the basic skills you took away from the boot camp. Don’t be in a hurry to sell the textbooks after you’re done with the courses (especially Glanville Williams’ Learning the Law). I had to re-read some of our textbooks to learn how to answer my assignments properly. You’d think you had grasped how to accurately answer your assignment questions after completing more than 10 TMAs by the second semester. But I only made significant improvements when I re-visited my foundations. Don’t treat your foundations trivially.
- Strike a balance
During a hectic semester, we must intentionally find a balance. This means to keep yourself in healthy and good shape, not just physically but mentally and spiritually. When you are well holistically, you can then take on more, and do more. Set short-term goals, take breaks sometimes. When you are burnt out, you end up unproductive and unable to accomplish anything much. So please take good care of yourselves!
What a journey! To the incoming 1Ls, we hope our documentation on this platform thus far on our journey has been helpful and enlightening. The end of law school seems far away, but seeing our seniors graduate made it seem more within reach. For now, I will press on towards that goal as well. Have a good break, everyone.