Academics News

Academic Success Tip - Get Caught Up on Your Outlines

The time of the semester is here when you have no choice but to start thinking about exams.  There are only FOUR weeks of classes left.  You need to have a plan for exam studying or you will have too much to learn and not enough time in which to learn it.  Get caught up on your outlines quickly.  Your outlines will be your master documents for studying.  If you wait too long to get them up-to-date, you will not have enough time to review the material for deep understanding.  If you have the world’s best outline and do not study it thoroughly, you will not perform as well as you could on exams.  Your goal this week should be to catch up on your outlines and then outline every week. 

Academic Success Workshop: Preparing for Exams

The next Academic Success Workshop will be on Thursday, October 29, in Room 275.  The presentation will begin at 1:00 p.m.  Learn tips on how to prepare for finals, how to approach exam questions, common errors you can avoid, and more!  Snacks provided.

REMINDER: BAR PRESENTATION TODAY

Monday, October 26, Noon - Learn what you can do now to prepare for the Bar Exam.  Presented by T. Leigh Hearn, South Regional Director of Kaplan PMBR.  This presentation is open to all Brandeis law students and will cover the various components of the bar exam in multiple states, planning, a day in the life of the bar examinee, and strategies for the essay and multiple choice components of the bar exam.  If you have class beginning at 12:35 or 12:45, you are invited to stay until you need to leave for class.  The presentation will be in Room 275 from noon to 12:55.  Bring your lunch!

Academic Success Tip - Find Time for Exam Preparation

Tip #4:  Allow time for three types of outline review.   Making the world’s greatest outline is counter-productive if there is no time to learn and review it.  One type of review is intense studying to learn the material in your outline initially (several topics or sub-topics each study period).  The second type of review is regular reading through the outline from cover to cover to reinforce material that you have already learned and anticipate material that you will learn (at least once a week).  The third type of review is additional careful studying of areas that still confuse you or are hard to remember (as often as needed to “conquer” the topic).

Academic Success Tip - Find Time for Exam Preparation

Tip #3:  Become aware of when you lose focus.  Determine why you are losing concentration.  Then, determine whether you can correct the situation.  Do you need to make your reading more active by asking questions as you read?  Do you need to move to a quieter place?  Do you need to write a reminder note so that you stop worrying about forgetting something?  Are you hungry and need a quick snack?    If you cannot re-capture your focus, then take a short break and come back once you are refreshed.

SPRING 2010 REGISTRATION INFORMATION

Please see the attached document for registration days and times. 

Pre-registration forms for ALL students must be returned to Student Records by 4:00 p.m., Thursday, October 29, 2009.

Registration materials will be available in Student Records on Tuesday, October 20, 2009.

Academic Success Tip - Find Time for Exam Preparation

Tip #2:  Take advantage of “windfall” time.   Always keep tasks handy that can be used as study “fillers” when unexpected time becomes available.  Working with flashcards, rewriting a rule several times for memory, or reviewing a chunk of an outline can create productive time when a ride or study buddy is late.

Academic Success Tip - Find Time for Exam Preparation

Everybody is sliding into “studying for exams” mode.  Time becomes a critical variable now.  It is important to find time for all of your tasks.  It is also important to be productive with that time.  This week's tips will focus on how to get more time out of each day and be more productive during studying.

Tip #1:  Evaluate your day for “lost” time.   Look for time wasted in the following ways:  unproductive time between classes; assignment time stretched to 3 hours when with more diligence it could have been finished in 2 ½ hours; delay in starting a project because “I have all day;” inefficient and scattered errand running or other non-school tasks; completion of chores or other non-school tasks during prime study time.  If only ½ hour is captured each day of the week, it nets 3 ½ hours of extra study time.

Academic Success Tip - Beware of Bad Advice

Bad advice:  You can’t do any practice questions until right before the exam because you don’t know enough.

Why this advice is bad advice:

  • Exams are all about applying the concepts and law that you have learned all semester to new fact scenarios or legal problems.
  • You wouldn’t go on a black diamond ski slope without lots of practice.  Why would you go into an exam without having worked on several practice questions throughout the semester?
  • A multitude of practice questions are available that test your knowledge on sub-topics and topics and not just entire courses.

Alternatives:

  • Do some practice questions at the end of each sub-topic to test your application skills.  Can you spot the issues and sub-issues?  Can you apply the concepts correctly?  Can you apply the rules and exceptions to the rules?
  • Practice your approach to questions:  how will you analyze the question; how will you marshal the facts; how will you organize your answer; how will you write the answer in the most concise way.
  • Become more adept by starting with one-issue questions, then progressing to two- or three-issue questions, then progressing to more extensive questions.  Once you can organize and answer shorter questions, you can practice your organization for longer questions.
  • Use multiple sources of questions:  ones handed out by the professor; questions in study aids; questions you and your study partners write and swap; questions from prior exams.  
  • Schedule practice question time each week for each course so that you do not forget to practice or put off practice too long.

Academic Success Tip - Beware of Bad Advice (Cont'd)

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:  You don’t have to study as hard for an open-book exam because you can look up anything that you want.

Why this advice is bad advice:

  • You will have very little time to look up anything during the exam.  Open-book exams are traps for the naïve.
  • If you are only generally familiar with the material, you will not have in-depth knowledge to spot all of the issues and to support your arguments.
  • “Open book” may have a very limited definition (Ex. code book but no outlines or notes).  "Open book" may have a very limited value-added component (Ex. you may not write in your rule book that is allowed in the exam).

Alternatives:

  • Treat an open-book exam with the same reverence as a closed-book exam.
  • Study the material so well that you “own it” rather than being generally familiar with it.  Then, you will not need to look up much.
  • If it is a code/rule course, you want to have a solid memory for at least a “condensed” version of a code section or rule because you will not have time to look up and read every code section or rule during the exam.
  • If a code/rule book is allowed, make sure you have extensive practice in using that source so you are efficient in its use if you must look something up.
  • Know exactly what the professor will allow you to bring to the exam and any restrictions on writing in books, etc.  Then, plan how to use those resources most efficiently and effectively and only when necessary.
  • Make good and creative use of tabs for code/rule books if allowed by the professor.