I just started law school last week, and I'm already freaking out about how I'm going to set myself apart from my classmates well enough to get one of the 30-40% of A-range grades that professors are required to give in each class. It seems like if most everyone is reading the assigned material, briefing all the cases, attending class, outlining, and going to professors' office hours if they have questions, all of the exam answers will be of approximately equal quality. Would anyone here mind sharing what they did throughout the semester and near exam time to earn A's in their classes?
Also, how in the world do I know that I'm studying enough? I keep reading about people spending tons of time every day of the week "studying." Are you all doing something besides reading the assigned material, briefing cases, and looking back over your class notes (and, later, outlining)?
Thank you for your insights!
--A 1L who is determined to get straight A's
Well, here's my input for what it's worth. Unlike most, it seems, I do brief all my cases. I think it's important in the beginning to do that, but I could probably do fine now without it. I just do it because I find it's a good way to keep my thinking sharp in re: dealing with facts, finding issues and organizing my thoughts. Outlining is vital, the people who do badly are the ones who are studying from either a canned outline or from the casebook by the end of the semester instead of from their own outline. Everyone says to ignore your profs and use canned briefs and outlines, that they're helpful. I've found the opposite to be true. I generally do better than my classmates who use such. I think that's because I don't use them. Every brief and every outline bullet I study is a trace of a thought process I've gone through to get the words onto paper. I know everything on that outline inside and out because of that, and that process is what the exams really test. Granted, I might be able to do nearly as well now studying from a canned outline, but that's only because I didn't rely on such earlier.
In other words, I think just doing what the profs recommend that you do will prolly set you apart from those who are getting that "little extra" by memorizing horn books, looking at 3 different canned outlines, etc etc and dispersing their focus.
As for how far to be prepared: A) don't fall behind, I made that mistake me 2nd semester and catching up was a nightmare. A couple of your classes will likely fall behind the syllabus. I find that just keeping up with the syllabus in all of my classes means that I'm a week or two ahead of the actual lectures by the end of the semester in a couple classes. That's enough of a cushion to consolidate and finalize outline to prep for finals, etc.
Edited to add: Don't spend time set aside for studying on this board writing long-winded replies of little interest to anyone as an avoidance mechanism.