This week’s tips focus on bad advice that is often given out by well-intentioned students. Critique these pieces of advice carefully and consider the alternatives.
Bad advice: When you have someone else’s outline for the course, you don’t have to make your own outline. Why this advice is bad advice:
- Having the outline of someone else who did well in a course does not mean that you will do well in the course. You will only do well if you know the material in-depth and understand it and can apply it. Having an outline from an anonymous source is even less positive because you do not know if the student who created it did well in the course.
- An outline matches someone else’s learning styles and may not match how you learn material. It also does not tell you how to apply the material to new fact scenarios – the very essence of law school exams.
- Outlines of other students are shortcuts that avoid your having to process the information yourself. Processing the information through your own outlines increases understanding and retention of material.
- Outlines from prior years may not include changes in the law, changes in the professor’s approach to a subject, and changes in textbooks. Unless you are carefully taking notes and outlining, you may miss important changes since the last time the professor taught the course.
- When each member of a study group outlines one course and then gives her/his outline to the other study group members, the same type of problems can result. Each study group member will know the course s/he outlined very well. Each study group member will only have a partial understanding of the other courses.
- If you have not already done so, begin NOW to process material and make your own outlines. Use any outlines you have depended upon up to now only as comparisons.
- Consider whether you can condense material before you put it in your own outlines so that you will not have to condense your outlines later.
- Be efficient and effective in making your own outlines: do not include everything – include the important things that give you the bigger picture and inter-relationships.
- Consider whether flowcharts and other visuals will be helpful for you as a way to condense the material and understand the “big picture” of the course.
This week’s tips will focus on bad advice that is often given out by well-intentioned students. Critique these pieces of advice carefully and consider the alternatives.
Bad Advice: Save up your absences and use all of them the last two weeks of class so that you can focus on exam studying.
Why this advice is bad advice:
- Important topics are often covered at the end of classes because the topics are more advanced than some of the material you have had previously. You will be dependent on another student’s version of the material if you miss classes.
- Your professors are likely to tie the course together in the last weeks of class. You will be dependent on another student’s version of the course if you skip classes.
- Your professors are likely to talk about the exam in more detail during the last weeks of class. You will be dependent on another student’s version of the exam instructions, tips, and study guidelines.
- You will go into exams with less personal understanding of the material covered at the end of the semester. Some professors emphasize material covered at the end of classes very heavily in the exam questions.
- If you follow this advice, you will also not be reading your cases. You will only be more behind in understanding the course than you were previously.
- Plan your time management for the coming weeks so that you get all of the tasks done that are necessary for success – including going to class prepared.
- Do not stop reading your cases. You need to understand the material through the last class. Become more efficient and effective in your reading.
- If you do not know how to structure your time for the remainder of the semester to get each task done, visit the Academic Success Office for help.
Be prepared for course registration and choose the courses that are right for you. Do you want to enroll in an externship or an independent study? Do you need to request to enroll in more than 16 hours as a full-time student or 12 hours as a part-time student? Have you completed a degree checklist recently? Do you want to take non-law graduate level courses?
The Student Life Office will be offering course registration advising office hours for upper division students on October 25, 26, and 27. Stop by or make an appointment in advance to discuss any questions you may have regarding your Spring 2011 schedule, graduation requirements, externships, pre-registration permission forms, etc. Kathleen Bean, Associate Dean for Student Life, and Kimberly Ballard, Academic Success Director, will be available to provide one-on-one advising, and to answer questions about course selection. To sign-up for a time in advance, add your name to the appointment sheet outside the Brandeis Room (112).
Monday, October 25, noon to 2:00
Tuesday, October 26, 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 27, 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
It’s happening here – another “brief” break!! Students, staff, and faculty are invited to the Cox Lounge, TODAY, for a brief break from their computers and their books. We’ll have every variety of Krispy Kreme you can imagine, plus coffee, milk, and apple cider! So please join us anytime between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m.
The calendar no longer supports the idea that exams are a distant event. There are only five full weeks remaining before the end of classes. The remainder of this week's tips will focus on exam preparation.
- Ask your professors questions. Your professors will be writing and grading your exams. Your professors are the experts. Ask questions about any areas on which you are confused. Ask early and often rather than wait until the end of classes.
- Spend time on memory work. Drill on rules and elements so that you know them by heart. Even if you are able to take a rule or statute book into an exam, you need to know the rules to avoid having to look everything up.
- Apply the material constantly. The more practice questions that you do, the better prepared you will be to organize your answers and to spot nuances in the law. Practice questions also help you self-monitor what you need to study more and what you know already.
The calendar no longer supports the idea that exams are a distant event. There are only five full weeks remaining before the end of classes. In light of the seriousness of the time in the semester, the remainder of this week's tips will focus on exam preparation.
- Stop fragmenting your efforts and refocus. If you have been coasting through class until now, stop. If you have been focusing on extracurricular activities to the exclusion of academics, stop. If you have been partying instead of studying, stop. You need to prioritize your efforts for studies now.
- Take responsibility for wherever you are in your studies. If you are in good shape, congratulate yourself and plan the next step before you are tempted to rest on your laurels. If your studying is in shambles, do not blame your present situation on your professors, study partners, family, or whomever comes to mind. Own it and move forward.