Law School Toolbox®

More Evidence-Backed Law School Study Tips

Law school is now in full force, and your life is likely all about studying. If you missed our last post with four proven study methods, be sure to check it out. Today we have three more tips to help you study and get ready for exams. 

Sleep more to improve implicit learning.

We’ve talked about sleep before. But, did you know that some valuable learning may actually be taking place after you close the books for the night? There is something called “implicit learning,” which basically describes how your brain may be organizing and condensing information without you even trying. Go brain!

Research has shown that while you are sleeping, your brain may be identifying meaningful patterns in your memories from the day before and making them stronger and more permanent.

Obviously, adequate sleep is just one of many factors that can contribute to law school success, but getting enough sleep can definitely boost your learning power and memorization capabilities. So, when faced with the decision to study more and burn yourself out or call it quits for the evening and get a good night’s sleep, choose the sleep.

Review material early and often.

One of the cruel realities of law school is that there never seems to be enough time to really study for exams until reading week, and by then, it’s too late.

Studies have shown that cramming at the end of the semester is not ideal. Instead, you should try a more “distributed practice.”

This means spreading your study sessions out over a longer period of time (e.g. the course of the full semester), rather than waiting until the very end and then staying up for three days straight to give yourself a crash course in Crim. Pro.

We remember material better when we review it early and often. The more you want to understand and retain the substantive law on the difference between the 5th and 6th Amendments, the earlier you should start working through it and boiling it down into useable, memorize-able chunks.

Do practice tests and hypos.

The old adage, “practice makes perfect,” isn’t too far from the truth. While in law school, the goal is to do the best we can with the time and resources we have—not to be perfect—(remember that!) practicing your IRAC-ing, actually writing out analysis, and going through hypos using your attack plans and study outline can go a long way toward improving your exam performance.

Studies have shown that even after we think we understand something, clearing the additional hurdle of practicing it can help to further refine the skill and make us quicker and more efficient.

Don’t let the exam be the first time you attempt a mini-IRAC for negligence, or ask yourself how to structure the possible routes to a first degree versus second degree murder analysis, or think about what kinds of facts might matter under the “continuous” element for adverse possession.

You can figure this stuff out now, so don’t wait until finals! Practice these things as soon as you learn the material so your thinking, planning and writing are faster, more organized, and better on exam day.

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