Lawgirl, since reading this board I have seen all the great advice you have given. I know everyone studies differently and different things work better for different people, but I am curious as to your approach to finals. How many days do you devote to memorizing and how much to practicing exam answers? Do you have any advice about how to best approach/prepare for writing good exams answers and yet be able to finish within the time alloted? I felt really good about the first half of my answer on an exam today but not so confident on the last portion because of the time crunch.
As far as memorizing, it usually takes me about three days per class. I have a final this Wednesday and I started studying my outline on Sunday. This technique is just for one subject at a time. On the first day, I carefully go through each section of the outline for one subject. I separate it out into main topics, focus on one topic for understanding and then focus on it again to see if I can start reciting that one topic from memory (ex: Criminal Procedure, pre-trial release). I do this several times until I feel like I have a good grasp on the material, can see where the subtopics break up, and have a fairly good recall of my outline. It also helps to make notes out to the side to pare down the main idea from a paragraph to a few sentences or a few poionts.
Then I move onto the next topic and do the same thing for all topics. I only try to memorize one topic at a time until I get through the entire outline. On that day, I don't try to recite the whole thing from memory yet, just each individual section
The second day, I go back through and practice memorizing the topics again separately, but toward the end of the day, I try to recite the entire outline from memory. I do this by thinking about it, writing it down, typing it, charting it, etc. (whatever helps you). The third day I just work on reciting the whole thing from memory, again thinking about it/typing/charting, etc.
I haven't tried it yet, but I did hear about a technique for memorizing. It involves memorizing the rooms in your house and attaching a memory to rooms and physical objects in the house. Ex: memorize all of the things in the living room. Use that room for one subject (Criminal Procedure), attach the memory of the sections of your outline to specific physical things in the living room. Ex: an entertainment center might hold all of your memories for 6th Amendment trial rights, and all of the stuff you have in/on the entertainment center might make up the parts of that specific section. I may try it for another final I have later. It is supposed to let you visually walk through the room and recall things easier. I don't know. I'll let you know how it works out.
As for practice exams. I hate to say it, but I do them if I have time, usually the last day. I should spend more time on them and I would say it is a good idea, I just don't always have time.
As far as timing on your exams. At the beginning of the exam, write down your start and end times. Then look at how many sections you have and the points alloted for each and divide up your time according to how the sections are weighted. Write those times down and STICK TO THEM. No matter what, get out of a section when you need to. You will have a better chance of having time left that way rather than just winging it. I have done that from my very first exam and I have never run out of time. I would always like to have more time, but I always finish.
Hopefully, that will help you.
If you need anything else, let me know.