So often, law students find themselves strapped for time. They feel that they must spend every moment of every day reading and preparing for class. Well, that isn’t really the best idea, because the magic actually happens after class. Contrary to popular belief, simply preparing for class doesn’t actually lead to getting great grades. So all of those hours you are putting in may not actually provide the payoff that you expect.
Does that mean that I don’t think you should read for class? No! Reading for class is the foundation of your learning. It teaches you how to think like a lawyer, study cases, and allows you to participate in and follow the class discussion.
You must, however, make significant time outside of class to learn the material.
There are various reasons students don’t like this activity:
- It is more abstract than reading for class. It is unclear to students what they should be doing and when they are finished studying.
- It can be frustrating because you are actually struggling with the material.
So what do I mean by significant time?
At this point in the semester I would suggest setting aside four to five hours a week to review material, outline, read supplements, and do hypos. If you have more time than this, great. If not, set this as a minimum.
What do you do during this study time?
This is the time where you actually get to learn the material. Sit down at your computer with your class notes, a quality supplement, and your outline and try to take notes on the law, so it makes sense to you (this is what outlining is). Once you have done this, then pull out some practice hypos and get busy practicing. Trust me, there is no shortage of work to be done.
Why is this so important?
If you set aside time to study throughout the semester, when it comes to exam time, you will be able to focus on your mastery of the law, your creation of study materials, and practicing legal analysis. This will make you more competitive and likely will lead to better grades.
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Here are some other helpful posts:
- What Most Law Students Forget to Do: Think About the Material
- How to Turn Your Class Notes Into an Outline
- Pay Attention in Class, It Can Save You Time
- The Law School Semester’s Half Over: 7 Questions to Consider
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