« on: July 16, 2008, 09:45:46 AM »
First I would read law school confidential. It gives you some practical tips on how to study day to day and at least makes you feel for confident. Also I ordered the LEEWS course. I just listened to the CD's and read the book. This also has some practical tips and makes you feel more confident about the test.
Next remember what your goals is. At the end of the semester you have one test in each class. You need to figure out how to do better than your classmates during those 3 hours.
Preparing for class and preparing for an exam is not the same thing. When you read a case there will be a bunch of stuff in there that is not relevant. Also the professor will ask questions that might not be relevant. I mean, does it really matter what the lower court decided and why they decided it, maybe not, I would rather know what the rule is now and what the resoning is. So put your focus on preparing for the exam and not for class. When you read a case, look for what the rule is and some reasoning, also know some facts to help you know what the context is. Knowing whats in the case, think to yourself, how would I argue this on the exam, how might this issue come up.
What should you do day to day. Go to every class and read every case. Pay attention. The professors talk about the exam time to time so listen to that. Some professors want you to state the rule like you would to a client and explaint it, some want you to just go into the issue like you were talking to a partner. Remeber and write down when they say stuff like that. Personally i used study aids alot. Before class or maybe the weekend before, I would do the reading, brief some, then use supplements and outlines to help me understand. Then using the cases, briefs, and supplements I would make my own outline. Then before class I have the topic for that day outlined. In class i have the information in front of me. Most of the time the teacher is just repeating what I already have written down but sometimes they will give something new or state something differently than i have it. So write that down, add it to your outline, change your outline. Try to stay ahead of things.
As the semester progresses review your growing outline. Edit your outline. Maybe you used to have a few lines on an element of battery. But now you know what intent is so maybe you edit it down to one line, maybe you get rid of it completely. As you read and shorten your outline you learn it more. I might have a 60 page outline that ends up being 20 pages. You need something short to take into the exam. Something quick you can look at to refresh your memory. Time is short on the exam.
Practice, practice. Get old exams. Some are on the school site, but there are plenty online. Take an exam, answer the questions, practice using your outline. Practice writing out elements of certain issues. You should be able to write out the elements for battery in no time. Then you can move on to the analysis.
How can I do well on the exam. If the professor wants the elements then list them quickly. Determine what issues are important. Then analyze that issue. Take facts and argue them. Really nit pick the facts. Argue both sides, plaintiff will previal because, or will fail because, defendant will previl or fail because, remember because. Dont just say something, explain why. Learn to spot issues, then tear the facts apart to argue that issue. Make unique arguments. Make the professor say, oh, i did not think about that. You need to know the rules of law and the elements cold. You dont have time to think about what supplemental jurisdiction is. You need to spend your time making a strong argument for each issue and for each side. Everyone in that room will know the rules of law. You have to take the facts and agrue them well if you want to do well.
At some point how smart you are matters. Some people spot issues better than others, some can argue better and analyze things better. However, how hard you work matters also. But work smart as well. Dont waste your time reading everything out there. Study and read with the exam in mind. Ask yourself how this will help on the exam, how will this come up, how will I argue it.
Remeber that the way you study for torts might not be the same way you should study for civ pro. Maybe those teachers want completely different things.
Hope that helps some, feel free to ask anything else.