« on: August 26, 2007, 08:18:57 AM »
My advice is before you go to law school, think about how you learn. I would just recommend to people to do what they used to do in undergrad, but just do more. However, most law students are smart enough that they can succeed in undergrad with poor study skills. When the stakes are higher, and the work is harder, they can't do that. Law students need to have individually tailored effective study skills. So when some 1L asks "What should my outline look like?" or "When should I start taking practice exams?", I can't give the advice.
Trouble is, building individualized study skills isn't stressed in any level of education, and there's no service, or book, or method for finding out what your's are, except working with a learning specialist, which are not widely available and can be very expensive. A diagnosed dyslexic student has many disadvantages in law school, but one big advantage: extensive work with people who taught the student the best way he or she learns.
So what are we left with? Trial and error. The problem is, you don't get a chance for a trial until any error is going to be really serious. If someone reads LSC, PLS, or posts like your's, how are they supposed to know if they are ahead or behind? Assuming they are behind, what are they supposed to do? Work harder? Lower expectations? Quit law school? There's plenty of students who get taken in by systems not right for them, and when it doesn't work, they decide to just work harder, like pounding their head against the wall with more force is going to make their headache go away.
And come on about the "notes are the most important thing" advice. By the end of week 1, every 1L knows that there are as many different ways to teach a class as there are professors.
If you want my suggestion, which is an important question, no doubt, I'll offer this. Incoming 1Ls should start off by either doing what they did before, and/or doing some very basic "law school" techniques, like writing out briefs for instance. After a few weeks, say 3-5, they should think critically about how well it seems they are learning the material. Do they just read something and then get it immediately? Do they read something, then only really get it when the professor explains it in class? Do they only get it when they see some sort of diagram? What works better, prose or bullet points? Do they get a lot out of writing out hypos and answering them, or discussing cases with a study group or friends?
If it truly seems something isn't working, they should quit doing it. If it seems something is working, they should incorporate more of it into their studying. Exams are arbitrary, but you can get some insight out of them if you're willing to do some post-mortem, just do it right. This includes talking with the professor if at all possible about your answers, and see why you got the grade you did. Combine all the answers of all your professors and you should get a general idea of what you did well and what you need to work on.
But if any law student just weds themselves to any system, they are rolling the dice with one of the few things they can control. They are essentially betting that the system is the best way for them to learn. Some of them with have great success, while others will hate law school after the first semester because they worked so hard and got so little out of it. And when the next crop of 1Ls ask them how to do well, they should always start by saying "Here's what I did..."