Advice from the Trenches for Incoming 1Ls: On Outlining and Exam Preparation

Advice for Incoming 1Ls Part III (Studying and Exam Prep)This week we welcome back Kala Mueller to finish up her series offering advice to incoming 1Ls from those who have gone through it already. She’ll complete the series with a discussion about studying and exam prep.

Now that you’re all well-versed on the rigors of law school and the importance of self-care, we’ll round out the series with a discussion of study habits. It’s worth noting that of all the feedback I received from students on what they wish they had known before starting law school, very little of it pertained to studying. At the risk of stating the obvious, I think this is, perhaps, an indication that it’s not the most important thing for you to know as you embark on this journey.

As I said in the first post in this series, you’ve likely read or received a lot of different advice on what does and doesn’t work, how and when you should outline, the best way to approach exam preparation, etc. It can be overwhelming and hard to determine at this stage which strategies are actually going to be the most effective for you, so in one regard, I am hesitant to heap more advice of this nature on to the pile. However, I thought the feedback regarding outlining and exam preparation was relatively general (and good) advice that should be helpful for most students. And, of course, you have the ability to decide whether or not to use it.

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Making Your Notes Work for You

Note TakingPlease welcome back guest writer John Passmore to discuss some great tips for note taking in law school!

Everyone agrees that note taking is important in law school. But are you getting as much out of note taking as possible? After a semester or two of struggling to find value in my class notes, I finally started to think more critically about my note-taking style. I realized I was just playing the stenographer—writing down as much as possible with the hopes of understanding it later. This is a very bad approach. As you develop your personal note-taking style, think about what you hope to get out of your notes. Once you have a clear idea of your objectives, you can take notes with purpose and be more effective. The tricky thing about law school note taking is accomplishing multiple objectives at once. Here are some of the key deliverables you might want from your notes — [Read more…]

I am a Rising 3L and STILL Haven’t Taken the MPRE

Help: I am a rising 3L and I haven't taken the MPRE yet!This week we welcome back guest writer, and rising 3L, Shirlene Armstrong, to talk about the MPRE and why she’s taking it her 3L year.

If you were about to listen in on many 2L’s minds, you would hear a variety of topics. “I need to practice for my upcoming mock trial…” or “After evidence, I need to run to the office to complete some interrogatories and meet with a client…” or “The MPRE is only a week away and I’m freaking out…” are just some of the daily conversations 2Ls have with themselves. As I close out my 2L year, I think back to all that I have accomplished, the stress of the year, and countless hours that I studied or worked. There is one quintessential 2L experience that I have yet to accomplish: taking the MPRE. [Read more…]

Three Things I Would Have Done Differently for Bar Prep

Three things I would have done differently during bar prepPlease welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan, an attorney, to discuss her bar preparation and some changes she might make reflecting back on the experience.

I can’t believe it has almost been two years since I sat for the bar exam. It’s unbelievable that an experience that was so intensive in my life is beginning to become a little vague. However, as the exam date pulls closer for February exam-takers, I can’t help but reflect on my bar prep experience. Although I’m grateful for my success on the exam, there are still so many things that I wish I had done differently. These “what ifs” run the gamut from stressing less, exercising more and discovering Emmanuel’s MBE questions a lot earlier in the process. Now I know you would be reading all day if I ran through every single thing that I would change about my bar prep process. However, I did want to run through at least three of these things to hopefully lend a helping hand to any preppers currently in bar prep land. [Read more…]

Can the Right Type of Music Help You Study?

Can the Right Type of Music Help You Study?Please welcome back Jennifer Warren, attorney and Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law, to discuss how the right music could help your studying.

Whether you’re in the middle of a marathon outlining session or just trying to get through the next reading assignment, maintaining your concentration can be a struggle at times. Distractions from family, friends, work, and social media, as well as our own tendency to procrastinate difficult tasks, can all impede our ability to stay focused. Academic success in law school requires consistent effort and concentration, so finding ways to stay productive throughout the semester is crucial. If your usual strategies for getting through your to-do list aren’t working, you may be ready to try a more unique approach to staying focused.

Two services, Brain.fm and Focus@Will, are offering specially engineered songs and musical compositions that they claim will sharpen focus, improve retention, and generally enhance your productivity. We’ve all had experiences where a particular song has influenced our mood, but can the right type of music also help you study?

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A Novel Listening Technique for Law Students: “Professor Says”

DSC_0006-002-1It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of information (and the rather disjointed way it’s presented) in a typical law school class. Today, we’re excited to have Jennifer Murphy Romig — creator of the Listen Like a Lawyer website and instructor of legal writing, research, and advocacy at Emory Law School — here to share a very useful technique for cutting through the clutter!

Welcome, Jennifer.

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Why You Should (Probably) Read the Cases in Law School

BooksNow that you’ve been in law school for a while, you’re probably wondering if it wouldn’t be easier to just learn law from a hornbook, or a commercial outline. Isn’t reading cases a total waste of time?

Here’s some sage advice from my law school friend:

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1L Tip of the Day: Start Thinking About the Exam on the First Day of Class

Play-DohHere’s a little secret — what’s tested in law school bears little resemblance to what’s taught in law school. I’m not saying law school classes are pointless (we can debate that later), but the way they’re structured can lead to misunderstandings about what you’re supposed to be learning.

How Things Used to Be

Think back to your average undergraduate class. Either the professor would give a lecture on the relevant material, which you’d dutifully attend, absorb, and apply on the exam, or the professor would lead a discussion group, where the class discussion was about the material you’d been assigned and the exam expected you to parrot back parts of that discussion.

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