Academic Success Tip - Improve Your Understanding and Recall of Cases

To improve your understanding and recall of the cases you read, consider these tips:  

  • Read your cases at the times of day when you are most alert and productive and save “lighter” study tasks for other times
  • Read the subject that is most difficult (or that you find least interesting) first each day so that you are your most alert and finish it early in the day
  • Create a context for reading the case through a quick survey before you read: what is the topic; what is the sub-topic; what court are you in (federal or state; level of appeal); what are the party categories (buyer and seller of land; buyer and seller of widgets); what is in dispute; what questions has the casebook editor included at the end
  • Divide what you are reading into small “chunks” – paragraphs on facts; paragraphs on procedural history; paragraphs on precedent; paragraphs about policy
  • Ask yourself questions about the chunk as you read to keep yourself interested and to draw out the most important points
  • Write margin notes to distill the chunk to the most important points
  • Re-read only the chunk you are on if you lose focus
  • Prepare a brief after you read the entire case to see if you understand the case AND the bigger picture of this case in relationship to other cases and the topic