As exams ramp up at law schools everywhere, you can’t shake a stick without hitting another “How to Succeed on Law School Exams” piece.
Unfortunately, a lot of this advice is contradictory (“You have to outline!” “Outlining is a waste of time, just read supplements and take practice exams!” “Practice exams are a waste of time!”). Okay, probably no one ever said practice exams are a waste of time, but you get the idea.
Here’s the thing…your mileage may vary! What works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for their law school BFF.
Difficult though it may be, you’ve got to trust yourself, your knowledge of how you learn best, and your intuition. That’s the only way to figure out what’s best for you.
Even the Experts Disagree
I was reminded of this great truth of law school earlier today, when I was on a call with a Harvard Law professor and the head of BARBRI. They disagreed about the best course of action in a particularly scenario, and these are two people who are very well versed in how to take legal exams.
The bottom line: you gotta do what works for you.
My Approach (which involved a lot of cooking)
I remember once in law school when a good friend was over studying for an exam with me. He was super diligent and sat quietly in the living room for 4+ hours reading.
I thought I was being quite productive, until finally he turned to me and said:
When do you actually sit down and study? You’ve done nothing but cook since I got here!
I was taken aback, because this wasn’t technically true. I had done some studying, but he had a point. I’d made us lunch, prepped some food for dinner and later in the week, and even baked cookies. But in between, I’d been reviewing my notes and diagramming the course.
What I intuitively understood was that this was just the way my brain learns best. I can focus intently for short periods of time, but very short. Then I have to take a break.
His brain, on the other hand, was happy to sit in one place and plow through material for hours on end. So that’s what he thought of as “studying.”
In the end, we were each playing to our strengths (and we ended up with the same grade, so obviously each approach worked fine).
But I did have a momentary flash of, “OMG, I’m doing this all wrong!” Which, luckily, I ignored.
Just remember: You know yourself best.
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