People often ask me how law school is different from college. Wow, it is hard to believe that my undergraduate days were only two years ago. It seems like such a long time ago when I took those kind of finals. Finals which had no preceding reading week because you did not need one. Finals which you could prepare simply by reading through all your class notes. Finals which you could take one day after another, or even back to back on the same day and still be ok. Or maybe you had papers which you could write the night before (I actually never did this because I was too risk adverse--but it was still doable). At least this is how it was as a political science major/public policy minor. I will concede that South Campus majors (math/sciences) had a completely different experience.
Nowadays in law school, reading week is a necessity. We make outlines that review entire semesters. We buy supplements. We spend hours locked down in our rooms or at the library. We neglect significant others. We think that having only one day in between exams is a horrible schedule. And papers now, they actually have to have real footnotes.
Sometimes I wonder if the material is that much harder or if we simply go through these motions because we are told this is how we prepare for law school exams. But all it takes is looking at a practice exam to remember that it actually is harder and there is less room to 'bs.' And oh yeah . . . we might actually want to retain some of this information to pass the bar and do our jobs. At least knowing some of this information will be applicable later validates this whole process, a little.