Weekly Academic Success Tip - Take an Inventory of Your Study Habits

We are half-way through the spring 2011 semester.  At this juncture, it is important that you take a few moments to seriously evaluate your academic situation so you can prepare to end strong.  Some of you will be able to pat yourself on the back knowing that you have done, and will continue to do, everything that is necessary to stay on top of your classes and to understand the material.  For others, this is an opportunity to identify bad habits and to correct those habits.  Ask yourself the following questions to assess your likelihood of success, and use these questions as a guide to make positive changes during the second half of the semester:

  1. Have you kept up with the reading in your classes?  Do you get your reading done in advance, or do you scramble on the day of class to finish your reading?
  2. Have you consistently briefed the cases you read in preparation for class? 
  3. Do you always read and take notes on the introductory material in your casebooks, and the notes that may follow the cases you read?
  4. Do you take good class notes?  Do you listen carefully to the dialog that occurs between your professor and your classmates, or do you find yourself checking your email, or checking your facebook page, or zoning out?  
  5. Do you review your class notes within 24 hours so that you can fill in gaps and organize the material, and note any questions that you might have?
  6. Have you visited each of your professors during office hours at least once this semester to clarify questions you have?
  7. Have you started outlines for each of your courses?  Have you reviewed your outlines regularly throughout the semester?
  8. Have you taken advantage of every opportunity to practice your exam writing and to get feedback to improve your exam writing?  If you are a first-year law student, have you taken the practice exams given in the Structured Study Groups; have you completed the Introductory Problems in your Civil Procedure casebook; have you completed the Principal Problems in your Property casebook?
  9. Have you begun the memorization process – learning the rules and elements, learning the steps of analysis, and drilling regularly throughout the semester?
  10. Have you stayed organized this semester?  Do you keep a binder for each class, subdivided with tabs for your case briefs, class notes, handouts, and your class outline? 

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you are on your way to having a successful semester.  If you answered “no” to many of these questions, you need to refocus and make positive changes during the second half of the semester to increase your likelihood of success.