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…]

Confronting Injustice On The Bar Exam

Reconciling Social Justice With Bar Exam SuccessPlease welcome guest writer, Mihal Ansik, tutor for the Bar Exam Toolbox, to talk about how to balance personal feelings about justice with bar exam questions.

I can’t count how many times I died a little inside answering bar exam questions upholding doctrine that was legal, but, in my opinion, unjust. With fact patterns that require us to justify long term solitary confinement and concede to the flimsy 4th Amendment protections at border crossings, the bar exam demands complicity—fleeting as it may be—from those of us who feel responsible for challenging these very laws. So, when faced with an MBE question requiring me to affirm the constitutionality of deplorable prison conditions, did I engage in an act of resistance and fill in the answer aligned with what I knew to be true in practice, even if it was the wrong bubble? The honest answer is, I didn’t. [Read more…]

The End of the Academic Year: A 1L Perspective

end of school year examsPlease welcome Shirlene Armstrong, first-year law student at Wayne State University. Today, she’s giving us the 1L perspective on what law school life is like as the second semester draws to a close.

Another semester is coming to an end and a new law school season is about to begin, Studying Fever. This was a phenomenon that I discovered last semester: when everyone suddenly realizes that exams are less than a month away and go into overdrive mode. These are some of my reflections on what a law school looks like toward the end of the year. [Read more…]

1L Exams Start in a Week! What Should You Be Doing?

Law School Exam StressBelieve it or not, December is here! Which means most law schools start exams in the next week or so. Scary thought, right?

When you stop hyperventilating, let’s talk about what you should be doing now to be ready for your first exam. (Hint: It’s not adding an extra 20 pages to your 100-page outline.)

#1. Make Sense of What You’ve Learned

The weird thing about law school pedagogy is that your professor doesn’t just come out and tell you what you need to know for the exam. Neither does the casebook. So…you’ve got a problem! Where in the world are you supposed to find out what you need to know?

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Struggling with Law School Exams? We Talk to a Law Professor for Tips!

Law school professor exam adviceIt’s law school exam time, which means it’s time for a collective law student freakout. Why not take a nice, deep breath and read on for some exam prep tips from Melissa L. Greipp, an Associate Professor of Legal Writing at Marquette Law School? Melissa teaches courses in Legal Analysis, Writing and Research, and Appellate Writing and Advocacy and she’s got some great advice for doing well on exams and studying productively throughout the semester.

Welcome!

It’s exam time at most law schools, and students have one question on their minds: What is my professor looking for? Being only one person, you probably can’t answer definitively, but what DO you think professors are looking for? Are there certain traits or characteristics of a good exam answer, which demonstrate mastery across the board?

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Two Steps to a Winning Law School Exam Strategy

Law School Exam StrategyIt’s almost time for the final law school exam push, so I’ll make this brief.

What are you going to do these last few weeks, to ensure you’re ready to go on exam day?

  • Re-read your class notes?
  • Try to memorize a bunch of cases?
  • Cram a commercial outline into your head?
  • Look over a practice answer or two?
  • Give up and go to sleep?

Any of these could be useful, but let’s talk big picture — What’s a winning overall strategy?

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Disappointing 1L Grades? Four Common Reasons, and How to Fix Them!

Disappointing gradesAs law school classes start back up again, many of you are trying to come to terms with your disappointing 1L grades.

People tend to take one of two approaches when the first year didn’t go so well. Most students just accept the status quo, decide they’re lousy law students, and quit trying. But some students take a different approach: They systematically analyze what went wrong, and embark on a deliberate plan to improve their weak spots and do better in the final years of law school.

It’s up to you which category you want to be in, but — if you’re in the second category and you really want to do better — here are four common places 1Ls go wrong, with some techniques for fixing each problem.

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The Story of My (Almost Disastrous) Second Semester of Law School

LibrarySome of you might be laboring under the misconception that I was a model law student. Let me assure you that was NOT the case!

If you’re in the middle of a massive flip out about your impending exams, trust me, I’ve been there.

Let me tell you about my second semester of law school…

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7 Things to Do Over Spring Break For Better Law School Grades

Spring Break!Unless your law school is on some wacky schedule (I’m looking at you, Stanford) you’ve got Spring Break in the next week or two, and exams starting a month and a bit after that.

What can you do over Spring Break to ensure your exams go well?

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