Study Technique

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Answer an Essay Question Before You See it!

Word test on chalk board.

Would you like to answer an essay question before you see it!  Want to have more time on exam day to think through your answer? You can have 60% of your essay exam complete before exam day with this preparation method.Ideally, you should already have three sets of notes, as I mentioned in my episode called “Three Sets of Notes Method.”  In addition, you need to create a fourth set of notes, which I call your Exam Answer outline. This is an organizational tool that will allow you to move quickly during the final, and help you write a better...

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Deep Learning with Elaborative Interrogation

Elaborative Interrogation Exemplified with question mark in maze

The elaborative interrogation technique may sound like a spy how-to manual, but it is used to go beyond simply memorizing difficult concepts to understanding them. For example, you may be able to recite the three elements for res ipsa loquitur, but have no idea what they mean or how to apply them in a fact pattern. This method helps you remember and understand by having you ask how and why questions, thereby allowing you to see connections between the various concepts. Compare and Contrast As you use this technique you will compare and contrast ideas by asking how two concepts are similar and...

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How to Make a Law School Outline

Coffee and notepad for making a law school outline

Do you need to learn how to make a law school outline? Your outline is, nothing more and nothing less, than your blueprint for doing well on the exam. This means understanding law school exam grading, which I cover in detail in the episode called Law School Exam Grading.First, let’s discuss what you should NOT do when creating an outline. A mistake that many law students make is to take their class notes, rearrange them a bit, and then place them into their outline. That is not an outline, but rather a rearranged set of notes.Also, do NOT include facts...

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How to Remember Better

Finger on brain, helping to remember better

If you want to improve your memory and remember better, try the spacing effect. The spacing effect is a scientifically documented phenomenon where people learn better when they learn material over time. The opposite of spaced presentation is massed presentation, which we call cramming. Many students wait till a week or two before the exam to really begin studying. And then spend the night before the exam reading the material over and over again. Though cramming works up to a point, studies confirm that students who use spaced repetition outperform those that cram. By the way, if you cram the...

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Akrasia: How to Overcome Procrastination

Procrastination on an iphone with a computer

What’s the most creative excuse you’ve used for your procrastination? There is the usual: Facebook, surfing the net, checking your phone. Successful people do better because they put the important things, like studying, first and avoid the unimportant, like watching that 10,000th cat video. Akrasia Socrates called this problem akrasia, which is when someone acts against their better judgment. In the Bible, some English translations use the word self-indulgent. Regardless of the translation, the idea is that you know what is best for you and instead you do something else. For an easy-to-read article on why we procrastinate, read this article 0n...

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Law School Notes

Man in blue suit.

Are you wondering how to take law school notes? If you are not a genius, like Mike from Suits, you will need to learn the best how to take notes during a classroom discussion. Many new law students fall into the trap of thinking they need to write down every word said during a class. This is a mistake! The key is engagement, rather than mindlessly copying everything you hear in class. Here are a few things that will help you in determining what you need to write down from a classroom discussion.One thing you should be aware of is...

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Case Briefs: Key to Success

Shakespeare Portrait: to case brief or not case brief

To case brief or not to case brief? That is the question! Your professors and academic support faculty are telling you yes. And some upper level students are telling you no.Early in my teaching career, this question came up in a faculty meeting. In the room were very successful academics who attended the most prestigious law schools in the country. About half of them said they briefed all throughout school, the other half saying they quit after the first semester.Before answering the question, we have to discuss the purpose of case-briefing, which is two-fold. First, case-briefing is designed to prepare...

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When to Use Law School Study Aids

Person at desk with a book covering their face

Have you wondered when to use law school study aids? Perhaps you have heard some 2Ls or 3Ls talk about certain study aids that helped them get an A in a class. Maybe one of your friends bought one of those 3L’s study outlines. If you are considering using a commercial study aid, please read this first to learn how to effectively use these study aids.A commercial study aid is anything other than what you created. This can be outlines, hornbooks, treatises, notes from a prior year, case briefs, audio, video, anything that you did not create is what I...

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How to Read and Outline a Book

An open book with eye glasses on an open page.

Have you wondered what is the best way to read and outline a book? When most students read an assignment from a book, they pull out the book and the assignment, which says, for example, read pages 39-47. So they go and read the pages. That’s what most of us do unless you learn how to read a book better.When you start reading the assignment on those pages, have you ever asked yourself what you are about to read? Probably not. Students will of course know the title of the course and maybe even the topic. But they probably will...

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