Weekly Academic Success Tip - Tips for a New Semester
Posted January 9th, 2012 by Kimberly K. Ballard
Here are some things to consider at the start of this new semester. I am happy to help you with any of the areas for which you want to make an appointment.
- Remember that a grade measured your knowledge and application on one set of questions at one point in time on one day. If you did well, congratulations. But do not slack off because you think you will do that well again without working hard. If you did not do as well as you wanted, realize that changes in study habits can make a world of difference. Some people catch on to law school faster than others.
- Study smarter not harder. There are many strategies and techniques that can make you more efficient and effective. Law school success is not only about knowing the law and applying it. Law school success is also about knowing how to study the law. Even 2L and 3L students can benefit from new study habits.
- Ask for assistance if you are not happy with your grades. Make an appointment with Dean Ballard to strategize regarding your study routine. Ask questions regularly of your professors. Find a good study partner or study group. If you are a 1L, participate in the Structured Study Group program.
- Use study aids wisely. Study aids are supplements to your own work and processing of the material. Study aids are not shortcuts to avoid your own work. You must do the struggling with the material to understand it deeply and be able to apply it. Use study aids to assist in your understanding.
- Remember that memorization of the law takes time. You must know your “black letter” law as a foundation. You must know the main rules, the exceptions to the rules, the variations on the rules, and the exact elements/factors of the rules. Drill. Drill. Drill.
- Outline every week for every course. By staying on top of your outlining, you give yourself a master document from which to study for exams. You need to understand the overview, the relationship among concepts, the methodologies (steps of analysis and tests), and enough detail to flesh all of it out. By condensing material each week, you begin to master these four levels of knowledge.
- Review regularly throughout the semester. Study for exams all semester long. If you distribute your learning, you will have deeper understanding of the law, retain information better, recall information better, recognize issues more easily, and be able to answer questions more effectively. You forget 80% of what you learn within two weeks without regular review. If you wait until the last six weeks to study for exams, you will be re-learning nine weeks of material while you are learning six weeks of material for the first time.
- Practice applying the law. It is essential to know the law, but you MUST be able to apply the law to new fact scenarios. The more practice questions you do, the better you will be at spotting issues, understanding nuances in the law, and using proper test-taking techniques.
- Use time management techniques to your advantage. You can get all of your tasks done every week and still have time to enjoy life! If you work with Dean Ballard on how to structure your time, you can read/brief, review before and after class, outline, write papers, and complete practice questions each week with time left over.