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ChemDr

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please advice on study technique
« on: August 17, 2005, 05:08:38 PM »
So I survived 2 days in school but don't think I am going to get enough time to learn the law if I follow the class too much. Both profs covered half of what they assigned and I am sure things will pile up at the end before finals and we would have to learn things ourselves anyway. Also how important is briefing? I have a feeling I'll be better prepared for the exams if I start exam questions now. In the past my study technique has always been to look at questions, try to answer them, look up correct answer and therefore learn the content. Would it work for law school too?

two other things:
1. They told during orientation tthat we need approx 3 hours to study each week for every credit. How many of you think you did that?

2. Do you ever feel that some of your classmates are taking too much notes and writing down EVERYTHING that the prof is saying? How important is that?

rapunzel

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Re: please advice on study technique
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2005, 07:13:15 PM »
Many law students will follow the "program" of case briefing and outlining only to get bitterly disapointing grades.  You are right to start tailoring your studying to your personal learning needs. 

You may not have enough of a background to do much with a practice exam right now, but it doesn't hurt to give one a read.  I'd say your idea is excellent to start with exam questions and look for the answers in the law you are reading.  That is what lawyers do- get a case, a set of facts and research the law.  Only in law school do they throw a bunch of law at you then give out generic hypotheticals.

Last fall semester I had 13 credits.  I was probably at school from 8 to 2 and that time included my in class hours.  So I was probably spending only a little over an hour outsude of class for each hour of class.  That gave me time to read and book brief.  Then for exams I gear it up and spend a good chunk of time doing practice exams.  They end up showing me my weak spots and guiding me to look up the right answers- much like your system.  The other bonus is that many profs don't change their exam fact patterns all that much.  I have sat down at exams where the test is almost identical to the pratice exam I have already worked over.  Nothing better than having had a practice round to organize your thoughts. 

Yes, I think those people work way to hard.  But then, whatever works for anyone.  But then I don't really take notes.  I do go to class and try to key on on things I consider to be important.  I'd be surpised if I end up with more than 10-15 pages of notes for a whole semester.  A lot of class time 1L will be the confused meanderings of whatever student is stating the case.  No need to write that down.

squarre

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Re: please advice on study technique
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2005, 07:14:18 PM »
Congrats on surviving your first two days.

If your class is anything like mine then some days you will finish the material early and others you will not finish what is assigned.  You most likely will not be tested on anything that you do not cover in class.  

I don't think starting exam questions right now will do you a lot of good - especially since your tests will likely be essays.  At this point I don't think you will know enough material to see much of anything in a fact pattern.  You probably want to wait until you finish one subject area before you try an essay test.

I don't know about the 3 hour per credit hour, just study until you know the material.  

I am sure some in your class take too many notes but don't worry about them.  

lawgirl

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Re: please advice on study technique
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2005, 12:40:45 PM »
It seems like looking at exam questions now would not be beneficial. You really need more familiarity with the material in order to begin addressing exam questions. My advice would be to keep working with the material that you are studying now, wait until there is a shift in topics (ex: until you cover all of the elements for one cause of action), possibly do a short outline for that topic only and then look at exam questions addressing that topic only. If you feel you must look at exam questions early, it seems like it would be more beneficial at that time. Do it too early and it may confuse you. Having a good grasp on the topic as a whole and getting your professor's take on the material is crucial.

As far as paying attention to how much time is spent on each class, I don't think I ever really know exactly how much time I devote to each class. I just seem to keep working with it until I feel comfortable with it. That may be similar to what they suggest or it could be more or less depending on the material.

You will see a lot of people typing everything the professor says. The trick is to pick out what is important and what is not. It won't always be clear in the beginning. That skill will come with time.

tycom

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Re: please advice on study technique
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2005, 09:07:51 PM »
Didn't read the responses, but to address your questions:

1. I briefed every case and found it very helpful, especially when studying for finals.  I tended to make my briefs very short, no more than 1/4 of a page, and they were easy to go back over come exam time.

2. Taking a lot of notes is both good and bad. I took a ton, but I always went over them and trimmed them down that night or that weekend.  So, I didn't miss anything, and going over your notes after class helps you study, and organize for later studying/outlining (should you chose to make your own outlines).

3. Taking old exams this early is a bad idea.  Wait a month at least.  You'd get very little returns for a lot of time spent answering old exam questions now.  You would have to search through exams to see what you could possibly answer, and then only answer them partly.  Wait till the beginning of October.  Even then, you'll be taking them earlier than 90% of your classmates.



Janna116

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Re: please advice on study technique
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2005, 12:51:29 AM »
I second the short briefs.  Anything longer than half a page (unless it is a particularly convoluted Constitutional Law case) is not going to be helpful.  You need just the bare minimum information out of a case so you can read it in a minute or two and find the black letter law in what you have written. 

As far as notes.  I don't think taking a lot of notes in class is necessary. It's not like undergrad where you take down everything said in the lecture and then ignore it until exams and find it helpful and linear.  Comprehensive class notes will be filled with other student's opinions.  I would definitely take down notes but I wouldn't take down everything said, and if the prof ever gives an actual answer to a question: Write That Down!

I'll give you an idea of how I study:
I read all of the assignments for the week for one class.  I put the notes for the assignments in outline form in my computer, any cases are in brief format in my outline.  I print off the "mini-outline" (we can print for free at school otherwise this would be really expensive) and I take this mini outline to class with a plain old spiral notebook.  I take class notes in the notebook and also make notes on my "mini-outline" and then I can go in and edit my outline to fit with what has been taught in class.  This way I continuously build on my outline throughout the semester and not wait until a week before exams and panic.  Grooming your own outline is a very good way to study and review.

Here's how my week goes.  I try to complete all of my weeks assignments on the weekend starting Friday night and running through Sunday.  I study from my mini-outlines as review before the actual class to refresh my memory, either the morning or the night before depending on when the class is held.  I edit my outline during the week and I read supplements etc during the week and may have to finish assignments during the week if I couldn't finish them during the weekend. 

This way I usually have weeknights off to read or watch TV or do whatever I want.  And I usually don't end up working all day Saturday or Sunday so I can relax a little on those days as well. 

As far as the 3 hours to every credit hour, I was probably spending more than 3 hours to every credit hour when I started law school last year just so I could figure everything out.  Once you get the hang of things though, you won't spend that much time.  I probably spend about 3 hours for each credit hour but that includes actually doing the assignments, working on my outlines, and reading supplements and reviewing.  To finish the assignments (including taking notes and briefing) I probably don't spend more than 4 to 6 hours for the whole week per class so that is about 1 to 1 1/2 hours for each credit hour.

Jen

It is never too late to be what you might have been. - George Eliot

dkast

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Re: please advice on study technique
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2005, 10:45:49 AM »
Here's what I have concluded is the best way for me to study, it may work for you as well:

1. Read the assignments prior to class, read the cases and think about the ISSUE and RULES of law applied to the issue.

2. Do NOT brief the cases, they take way way to long I average about 20 minutes per brief and if you are asked to brief 10 cases for class that 200 minutes a little over 3 hours. When in actuallity you just want to spot the legal issue and rule of law applied, you should be able to come up with that by simply reading them and noting the Issue and rule of law in your outline, just used canned briefs you can find on the internet if you're called on in class to go through the details of the case.

3.  Spend the majority of your time with reading the E&E aspen series relevant to your course, outline the issues and Rules of Law, take practice exams.

This should work for a majority of students it may not in your case.




aryeal

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Re: please advice on study technique
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2005, 09:43:34 AM »
No matter your method of study, do not forget policy.  In your exam the prof is going to expect to see why you argue one way or the other.  You need policy to do that. I learned this the hard way.  I ruthlessly memorized the rules and and argued the facts against the rules and unwittingly plugged in a teensy bit of policy along the way.  When the profs were going over the exams in class, the word "policy" kept coming up and I thought "uh oh".  Sure enough the midterm grades were not pretty.   

SassDiva2000

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Re: please advice on study technique
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2005, 12:04:58 PM »
Hmm. These questions are always difficult because everyone has their individual method for studying. I can only share my experience:

1. Generally, I get all of my reading done for the week, brief cases and take reading notes. The setup will usually look like this: reading notes on the subject in general (for example, for duty in torts I might have notes on the definition of duty, etc...whatever is in the casebook). Underneath that, I have my class briefs for that particular section.

2. In class, I rarely take notes but when I do, I add the notes to my reading notes section in a different color ( it is much easier to do this on a laptop).

3. After the end of each section (try to refer to syllabus to get a general outline of the course), I outline the section using a combination of my reading and class notes. I may use the case brief as an example but usually I do not.

4. About a month before final exams, I make sure that my outlines are current (sometimes I get behind), start making flashcards and start looking at practice exams.

I really would not worry about practice exams this early on in the game. You'll only confuse yourself. At this point, concentrate more on making sure that you understand the material, the rules, etc.

nate

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Re: please advice on study technique
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2005, 01:37:06 PM »
Hmm. These questions are always difficult because everyone has their individual method for studying. I can only share my experience:

1. Generally, I get all of my reading done for the week, brief cases and take reading notes. The setup will usually look like this: reading notes on the subject in general (for example, for duty in torts I might have notes on the definition of duty, etc...whatever is in the casebook). Underneath that, I have my class briefs for that particular section.

2. In class, I rarely take notes but when I do, I add the notes to my reading notes section in a different color ( it is much easier to do this on a laptop).

3. After the end of each section (try to refer to syllabus to get a general outline of the course), I outline the section using a combination of my reading and class notes. I may use the case brief as an example but usually I do not.

4. About a month before final exams, I make sure that my outlines are current (sometimes I get behind), start making flashcards and start looking at practice exams.

I really would not worry about practice exams this early on in the game. You'll only confuse yourself. At this point, concentrate more on making sure that you understand the material, the rules, etc.


good advice SassDiva. i just started a pt time prgoram, and am taking contracts and civ pro, in addition to my legal writing class. contracts seems pretty straightfoward. we have three cases to read for every class, which i brief and take notes on in a matter similar to what you're talking about. however, for a class like civil procedure, i've sort of been at a stand still. for instance, we had 20 pages of reading for the first class in our course book, in addition to having to read a novel and about 10 rules. i got some good advice on taking notes on the rules in another discussion, but i'm still unsure as to what kind of notes i should be taking for 20 pages of procedure. should i just be underlining/highlighting the book, or is it better to also take notes on what i read? if so, how much is a good amount of notes to take on a reading, and how much is too much? any advice?

i think much of my problem comes from the fact that i lack a basic understanding of civil procedure, what it will cover, and in what format it will be (ex. cases, rules, text book format, etc.).
GW