Academics News

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Think About Your Review Process in Preparation for Finals

Some of you have been studying for exams all semester by staying on top of your course reading, adding to your outlines each week, and conscientiously learning new material while reviewing past material.  This ongoing process is the key to the highest grades because deeper understanding and long-term memory result.

As you study for exams, consider the four kinds of review that you should include in your study plans.  If you incorporate all four types, you are more likely to master your courses and garner better grades.

Intense Learning.  First, you need to learn intensely each topic.  This type of study has deep understanding as its goal.  It may take several study sessions to reach this level of learning for a long topic that was covered over multiple class sessions.  Intense learning may need to include additional reading in study aids or time asking the professor questions in order to clear up all confusion and master the material.  In addition to learning this one part of the course, the student should consider how it relates to the course as a whole. 

Fresh Review.  Second, you should strive to keep fresh everything in the course.  This type of study is focused on reading your outline cover to cover at least once a week.  It makes sure that the law student never gets so far away from a topic that it gets "foggy."  Students forget 80% of what they learn within two weeks if they do not review regularly.  After intensely learning a topic, it would be a shame to forget it.  Constant review reinforces long-term memory and provides for quicker recall when the material is needed.

Memory Drills.  Third, you should spend time on basic memory drills.  This type of study helps a student remember the precise rule, the definition of an element, or the steps of analysis.  For most students, these drills will be done with homemade flashcards.  Some students will write out rules multiple times.  Other students will develop mnemonics.  Still others may have visual reminders.  The grunt work of memory can be tedious.  However, if you do not know the law well, you will not do well on the exam.

Practice Questions.  Fourth, you must complete as many practice questions as possible.  This step has several advantages.  It monitors whether you really understand the law.  It tests whether you can apply the law to new fact scenarios.  It allows you to practice test-taking strategies.  And it monitors whether you need to repeat intense learning on a topic or sub-topic because errors on the questions indicate that it was obviously not learned to the level needed.

Ideally, you should set aside blocks of study time to accomplish each of these reviews every week for every course.  The proportion of time for each course will depend on the amount of material covered, the difficulty of the course, and the type of exam.

Spring Break Challenge - March 23

FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS:  ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE CHALLENGE?

Finals are right around the corner!  This is a great opportunity to test your knowledge.  The Challenge begins at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday in Room 275.  Snacks and drinks will be provided.

The challenge will consist of several objective-type (non-essay) questions covering one subject – either Contracts or Torts.  You will be asked to answer as many questions as you can within 30 minutes.  The student who answers the most questions correctly will be crowned the Spring Break Challenge Champion.

Prizes sponsored by Lexis and Kaplan PMBR:

  • $300 certificate towards the purchase of a Kaplan PMBR Complete Bar Review Course or MBE Combination Course
  • 3,200 Lexis Rewards Points
  • 1L Finals Survival Kit

1L Spring Break Challenge

1Ls:  TAKE THE SPRING BREAK CHALLENGE on MARCH 23

What do I need to do?

  1. Enjoy your spring break (March 15 – 21), but reserve some time each day to catch up on your reading; catch up on your outlining; and to review your outlines (especially Torts and Contracts).
  2. On Tuesday, March 23 (right after your 9:00 a.m. class), go to Room 275.
  3. The Challenge will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will end at 11:00 a.m.
  4. All you need to bring is a pen.
  5. We will flip a coin.  If it lands on heads, the Challenge questions will cover Contracts.  If it lands on tails, the Challenge questions will cover Torts. 
  6. Each student will receive a handout with the Challenge questions (there will be different handouts for Section One students and Section Two students).
  7. You will answer as many questions as you can in 30 minutes.  There will not be any essay questions.  The following is an example of the type of question you may see:  "List the three types of warranties you studied in Contracts at the beginning of the semester."
  8. After 30 minutes, all students will submit their answers for grading.
  9. The student who answers the most questions correctly will be crowned the Spring Break Challenge Champion and will receive:  a $300 Kaplan PMBR certificate towards the purchase of a Complete Bar Review Course or MBE Combination Course; 3,200 Lexis Rewards Points, and a 1L Finals Survival Kit.
  10. What do you have to lose?  NOTHING 

If you have any questions, please email Ms. Kimberly Ballard - kimberly.ballard@louisville.edu

TAKE THE CHALLENGE
Tuesday, March 23
10:30 a.m.
Room 275

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Be Smart During Spring Break

Spring Break is almost here!  How can you have an enjoyable break and boost your learning for finals?  It is possible – consider the tips below:

  • Spend time with family and friends.   Make sure that you have some fun time and get some relaxation during Spring Break to re-charge your batteries for the last push through classes and exams. 
  • Plan ahead for your studying.   Plan in advance what tasks you need to accomplish.  Plan which days you will do those tasks.  Plan what materials you need to take with you so that you do not forget something.  For example, if you want to work on practice problems, copy them this week so you do not have to lug a study aid around with you. 
  • Be realistic about what you can accomplish during Spring Break.  You are unlikely to study 15 hours a day every day.  Instead of telling yourself that you will accomplish 100 tasks, make a list that you think you actually will accomplish. 
  • Get on a regular sleep schedule before you return to school.  Catch some extra sleep hours to build up your stamina for the last push of the semester.  Take some power naps in the afternoons.
  • Take the time to play in active ways and not just in mental ways.  By exercising, you can release stress and prepare your body for the marathon ahead.  Enjoy the movement and healthy competition.
  • Exercise your brain cells by doing lots of practice questions for each course.  You accomplish several positives - better memory of the black letter law; better understanding of how to apply concepts; faster use of exam taking techniques and strategies; and greater confidence in the nuances of the law.
  • Catch up on any back reading that was not completed before the break.  Also, it is a good time to read for the first two days after break so that you do not feel behind when you start classes up again.
  • Eat healthy foods.   You are in training for exams now.  The better your nutrition during the break, the better your body and brain will serve you.  Keep up the healthy eating once you get back from break so that you will be at the top of your productivity and brain power during the remainder of the semester.
  • Keep on track.   By planning your studying, you can be more productive.  By starting with the hardest task first, you can make your day more pleasant.  By breaking tasks into small steps, you can cross them off more quickly for a sense of accomplishment.  By focusing on your priorities, you can accomplish more of your study tasks. 

1L SPRING BREAK CHALLENGE

Good News:  Spring Break is almost here!  Your brief is done!!!!
        Bad News:  Finals are right around the corner!
               Solution:  Take the 1L Spring Break Challenge!

Spring Break is an important time for law students to review and outline, and can be a real boost to preparing for exams and catching up on study tasks.  So, be sure to take advantage of this time and to TAKE THE CHALLENGE!

Here’s how the Inaugural Spring Break Challenge will work:

  1. Enjoy your spring break (March 15 – 21), but reserve some time each day to catch up on your reading; catch up on your outlining; and to review your outlines (especially Torts and Contracts).
  2. On the Tuesday that you return from Spring Break, take the challenge!
  3. The challenge will consist of several objective-type (non-essay) questions covering one subject – either Contracts or Torts. 
  4. Students taking the challenge will be asked to answer as many questions as they can (in any order) within 30 minutes.
  5. The student who answers the most questions correctly will be crowned the Spring Break Challenge Champion.
  6. The Champion will receive:
    *  $300 Kaplan PMBR certificate towards the purchase of a Complete Bar Review Course or MBE Combination Course
    *  3,200 Lexis Rewards Points
    *  1L Finals Survival Kit

Second and third-place finishers will also be recognized.
 

TAKE THE CHALLENGE
Tuesday, March 23
10:30 a.m.
Room 275

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Are You Being Efficient?

Time is a precious commodity in law school.  Law students are always looking for shortcuts; however, shortcuts are not the answer.  Instead, you want to use your time more efficiently and effectively.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Learn the material as you read it rather than highlight it to learn later.  Ask questions while you read.  Make margin notes as you read.  Brief the case or make additional notes to emphasize the main points and big picture of the topic after you finish reading.  If you only do cursory "survival" reading, you will have to re-read for learning later which means double work.
  • Review what you have read before class.   By reviewing, you reinforce your learning.  You will be able to follow in class better.  You will recognize what is important for note taking rather than taking down everything the professor says.  You will be able to respond to questions more easily.  Your confidence level about the material will increase.
  • Be more efficient and effective in taking class notes.  Listen carefully in class.  Take down the main points rather than frantically writing or typing verbatim notes.  Use consistent symbols and abbreviations in your notes.  
  • Review your class notes within 24 hours.  Fill in gaps.  Organize the notes if needed.  Note any questions that you have.  If you wait to review your notes until you are outlining, you will have less recall of the material.
  • Regularly review material.   We forget 80% of what we learn in 2 weeks if we do not review.  Regular review of your outlines will mean less cramming at the end of the semester.  You save time ultimately by not re-learning.   You gain deeper understanding.  You have less stress at exam time.
  • Look for the big picture at the end of each sub-topic and topic.  Do not wait until pre-exam studying to pull the course together.  Synthesize the cases that you have read on a sub-topic: how are they different and similar.  Determine the main points that you need to cull from cases for the sub-topic or topic.  Analyze how the sub-topics or topics are inter-related.  If visuals help you learn, incorporate a flowchart or table or other graphic into your outline to show the steps of analysis and/or inter-relationships. 
  • Ask the professors questions as soon as you can.  Do not store up questions like a squirrel storing nuts for winter.  The sooner you get your questions answered, the greater your comprehension of current material.  New topics often build on understanding of prior topics.  Unanswered questions merely lead to more confusion and less learning.

THE LAST DAY TO WITHDRAW FROM A CLASS

The last day to withdraw from a class is Friday, February 26.

The system is normally available Sundays through Thursdays, from 2:00 a.m. to midnight; Fridays from 2:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Due to this expansion of hours, there may be some times the system will be down that is unplanned.  This normally occurs on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you try to withdraw from a class and unable to complete the process, please contact Barbara Thompson in Student Records before 4:30 p.m., Friday, February 26.

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Take Action for Optimal Learning

We are already 8 weeks into the spring semester!  Deadlines may be starting to pile up.  Your beginning-of-the-semester optimism may have worn off.  And, the weather bouncing between winter and spring does not help.  Consider the following tips to obtain optimal learning:

  • Keep a positive attitude to affect your learning positively.  It is hard to keep your focus and perform at your best if a cloud is hovering over your head.  Negative thoughts, grumpiness, and sniping at others all expend energy in unproductive avenues.  Not only do other people want to avoid you when you exude negativity, but you waste your own time by moaning, groaning, and whining. 
  • Focus on manageable tasks to increase motivation.  It is easier to get motivated to do small tasks rather than large projects.  Decide to read one case when you do not feel like reading any of your Property cases.  Decide to write two paragraphs when you do not feel like writing an entire paper draft.  Decide to outline one sub-topic when you do not want to outline an entire topic.  Decide to do 5 multiple-choice questions when you do not feel like doing practice questions at all.  After you get started and finish one small task, you are likely to be ready to do another small task.
  • Focus on what you can control rather than what is controlled by others.  Reality is that you do not determine whether you will be called on in class, whether you will have a mid-term exam, whether your paper will have one or six draft deadlines, or whether you will have a multiple-choice or essay final exam.  So, stop stewing about things you cannot control.  Instead, focus on what you can control and take control of those things: your time management; your stress management; your timetable for review; your outlining schedule; your reading schedule; your schedule for practice questions; your asking the professor questions and more.
  • Use the many services that are available to you to improve your situation.  Ask questions during the professor’s office hours.  If you are a 1L, talk to your Academic Fellow.  Meet with the writing center to improve your grammar and punctuation skills.  Make an appointment with Ms. Ballard for study strategies and tips.  Meet with a University counselor if you have test anxiety, personal problems or other issues that are making it hard for you to concentrate on your studies.  Go to the doctor if you are sick rather than self-treating and not getting better.  Getting assistance keeps you from feeling so alone in your situation and begins the work of solving problems.
  • Do not focus on your bad choices last semester, last week, or yesterday.  If you have procrastinated or studied inefficiently and ineffectively or fallen into any of the other common student difficulties in studying, accept responsibility for those bad choices; but then, focus on today.  You cannot change what has already happened, but you can change how you study today and tomorrow.  
  • Take advantage of your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.  Evaluate the areas within a course: what areas do you understand and what areas are you confused about still.  Then, spend additional time on the weak areas to improve your understanding while you review material that you know well.  
  • Do not blame someone else for your difficulties.  It is not the professor's fault that you cannot do the practice problems if you did not study the material thoroughly.  It is not the professor’s fault that you got a low grade when other students did better on the same exam.  It is not your study group’s fault that you do not understand the material if you have not taken the initiative to attempt learning it yourself before study group.  It is not your spouse’s problem that you are behind in your reading if you have not set up a structured study schedule that allows sufficient study time as well as family time.
  • Stop resisting positive change.  Ask yourself whether you are having problems because you are clinging to ineffective and inefficient ways of studying.  You need to realize that nothing will change for the better if you refuse to make changes.  Knowing that you need to change something and still not changing it will accomplish nothing positive in your life. 
  • Remember that you begin to earn your reputation as an attorney while you are in law school.  Ask yourself whether how you are acting today will place you in a positive light with your classmates and professors.  If not, then reconsider the behavior BEFORE you act that way again.  Being difficult to work with on an assignment may translate into a reputation that you will be considered difficult to work with as an attorney later.  Being lazy in law school may translate into a lack of referrals as an attorney because your former classmates will not be able to trust you to do a thorough job.  Being mean-spirited or gossipy or arrogant in law school may translate into personal characteristics that mar your reputation later as a new attorney. 

Dual Degree Programs

Can’t bear to leave school and go out in the real world? Consider a dual degree!  
 
Dual degrees approved for Brandeis law students are:  Master of Business Administration/Juris Doctor; Juris Doctor/Master of Divinity; Master of Science in Social Work/Juris Doctor; Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in Humanities; Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in Political Science; Juris Doctor/Master of Urban Planning; and Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in Bioethics and Medical Humanities.  (More information is in the Law School Student Handbook.)  
 
Several Brandeis students pursuing dual degrees have agreed to host an information session on Thursday, February 25, at noon, in Room 175.  Dean Bean will also be on hand to answer questions.  All interested students should plan to be there!

Fall 2009 Class Ranks

Class ranks are now available and you can receive your class rank by either stopping by Student Records (Rm. 217) or sending your request to Barbara Thompson at bthompson@louisville.edu. You must use your louisville.edu e-mail address to request your class rank.