When created correctly, an outline will become your primary, and possibly only, study aid for exams. While law students create outlines in order to have an aid from which to study, it is through the process of creating an outline that you actually learn the law. Because outlining is a process that continues throughout the semester, you need to begin now. Why? If you wait to work on your outlines until the end of the semester, it is unlikely that you will have enough time to complete them prior to exams. Listen to your professors and to your colleagues that received A's and B's last semester - start your outlines early!
Here are some things to keep in mind as you work on your outlines for each course.
- View your outline as your master document for studying. Your notes and briefs go “on the shelf” once you have outlined a section. Your casebook is no longer your focus for completed sections.
- Make sure your outline takes a “top down” approach. The outline should encompass the overview of the course rather than “everything said or read” during the semester. Main essentials include: rules, definitions of elements, hypos of when the rule/element is met and not met, policy, arguments that can be used, and/or reasoning that courts use.
- Cases are usually mere vehicles for information unless they are “big” cases. Cases generally convey the main essentials that you need for your outline and are not the focus.
- Condense before you outline. If you include “everything said or read” in your outline, you will need to condense in stages to get to the main essentials that you actually need for the exam. If you condense before you outline a section, you will save time later.
- Use visuals when possible. If you learn visually, then avoid a thousand words when appropriate and use a diagram, table, flowchart, or other visual presentation for the same information.
- Review your outline regularly. You want to be learning your outline as well as writing it. The world’s best outline will not help you if you do not have time to learn it before the exam.
- Condense your outline to one piece of paper as a checklist. A checklist includes only the topics and sub-topics. Use acronyms tied to funny stories to help you remember the checklist. Write the checklist on scrap paper once the exam begins. For an open-book exam, the checklist should start your outline.
Are you planning to take the MPRE this year? The MPRE will be administered on the following three dates in 2010:
- Saturday, March 6, 2010 (late application receipt deadline 2/11/10)
- Friday, August 6, 2010 (application deadline 6/29/10)
- Saturday, November 6, 2010 (application deadline 9/28/10)
For applications received on or before the regular receipt deadline, the fee for the MPRE is $63. For those who apply after the regular receipt deadline but before the late application receipt deadline, the fee is $126. This fee entitles you to receive a copy of your scores and to have a copy sent to the board of bar examiners of the jurisdiction you indicate on your answer sheet on test day.
Applicants may register for the MPRE online or by mail. The online version of the 2010 MPRE Information Booklet and registration information appears at www.ncbex.org. Paper application packets are available from Ms. Kimberly Ballard, Room 212.
Being organized is essential to being a good attorney. Law school is a great place to learn better organizational skills. Here are some tips that can improve your organization:
- Keep all of your law school study materials in one place in your home rather than scattered in many areas.
When you have finished with study materials, return them immediately to that designated place.
- Before you go to bed at night, sort out the materials you need to take to school the next day and put them together.
- Keep student organization materials in folders or notebooks separate from your course materials.
- Keep materials for your part-time work in folders or notebooks separate from your course materials.
- Keep the syllabus, case briefs, class notes, and handouts for a course together in a 3-ring binder. Designate a separate 3-ring binder for each of your classes.
- If color helps you organize, use different colored folders or binders for school courses, work, student organizations, etc.
- Read your syllabus carefully; highlight due dates and transfer them immediately to your calendar.
- Always date your class notes.
- Have as many consistent abbreviations as possible to use in your notes and outlines for all classes. For each new subject, decide on special abbreviations for that class to use in your notes and outlines and stay consistent.
- If bold, italics, underlining, all capitals and/or font changes help you learn, use them consistently in your outlines.
- Have a consistent system to indicate material that your professor emphasizes in class. For example: insert a star, underline the material, highlight the material in a different color, etc.
- Have a consistent system to indicate material that you have questions about. For example: “Q”, “?”, red asterisk, red ink, etc.
- If flow charts help you, use a large dry erase board for formulating a flow chart before you finalize it on paper or on your computer.
- Regularly back-up your computer files on a thumb drive or CD.
Reminder: If you are planning to sit for the July 2010 Kentucky Bar Exam, your application must be mailed by February 1 (postmark accepted), to avoid a $200 late fee. Do not forget to have your application and the two authorization and release forms notarized. Be sure to make a copy of your application before mailing the original.
Time is a commodity that most law students lament during law school. However, there are some time management techniques that can really improve your control over your learning and your quality of life. Here are some suggestions on how to make time your friend instead of your enemy.
- You should manage your time on three levels: monthly, weekly and daily. Each of these three levels complements the other two so that you work effectively and efficiently rather than haphazardly.
- You can use paper templates to manage your monthly and weekly calendars or you can use Outlook or your own electronic templates. In addition, you can use a paper “to do” list for daily management. Monthly and weekly templates are posted on the Academic Success webpage http://www.law.louisville.edu/academics/academic-success.
- For weekly time management, here are the steps you should take:
- You will get more out of your reading if you do not do it on the day before class or the day of class. Instead, read for a class two days before you have class. For example, read on Saturday for Monday; on Sunday for Tuesday; on Monday for Wednesday; etc. This schedule allows you to read more carefully and to reflect on the material while reading; allows you time to review before class; and allows you to have Thursdays and Fridays for outlining, practice questions, time for papers or projects, review of your outlines, etc.
- Put your commitments in first: class attendance; structured study group sessions; work hours; study group times; sleep; meals; exercise; student organization meetings; non-law reward time, etc.
- Then, fill in your reading/briefing, review before class, review of class notes within 24 hours, outlining, practice questions, project time, review time. If you overdid it on reward time, you will have to designate additional study time.
- For most law students, 40-45 hours per week outside of class throughout the entire semester will mean reviewing near exam time instead of learning it for the first time.
- Include some blocks of “flex” time in case an assignment takes longer than usual or you were ill and needed to alter your schedule as a result. You then have additional times set aside when you can study and will not panic if you are surprised by an assignment or life event in a particular week.
- It will take 2-3 weeks to get a weekly schedule that feels comfortable and works consistently. As you evaluate what worked and did not work each week, alter the schedule to make better use of your “alert” time and your ability to concentrate in blocks. Include short breaks within longer blocks of studying so that you are able to focus and concentrate.
- The rewards for good time management are that your stress goes down, you are better prepared for studying for the bar, and you are better equipped as a new lawyer to manage a client load and work tasks.
Thursday, January 28, 2010 is the last day to apply for a May 2010 degree.
ULink, Student Services, under Degree Information - Degree Application
There is always a buzz around the law school when a new semester begins. Students are enthusiastic about starting new courses, and some students have decided new study strategies are in order. Here is some information that will help you to be successful in implementing any new strategies:
- Research shows that it takes 21 days to implement a new habit fully. Do not expect overnight success with new study techniques. It will take several weeks before the new technique “feels part of you” and is more natural. 21 days is the normal time needed, so do not give up if you are almost there for full implementation and need more time.
- Do not expect to change “everything” at once. If you expect yourself to lose 20 pounds, quit smoking, cut out all caffeine, cut out all sugar, call your parents every Sunday, learn how to salsa dance, find true love, write the great American novel, get straight “A’s” instead of “C’s” … Well, you get the picture. You need to make realistic changes in several areas rather than try for the impossible and set yourself up for defeat.
- Be very reasoned in your selection of new study techniques. Ask the following questions:
a. Is the new study technique compatible with my learning preferences?
b. If not, is the new study technique compatible with solving a concern I have because of my learning preferences?
c. Is the new study technique part of “law school mythology” or does it make sense for me?
d. Is the new study technique compatible with necessary areas of improvement that my professors have mentioned during evaluations of my exams?
e. If the new study technique is touted by other students who use it, do I know if they are “A” or “B” students so that I know it has a record of success?
f. Does the new study technique help me learn material throughout the entire semester rather than in the last few weeks?
g. Does the new study technique boost memory or work against memory?
h. Will the new study technique work for all courses or is it more specific to a certain subject matter?
i. Does the new study technique help me to be more efficient and effective in my studying?
j. Is the new study technique tied to learning or just to avoiding doing the work myself?
k. Do I know someone who uses the new study technique so that I can discuss the pros and cons before I invest the time?
l. What do I see as the pluses and pitfalls of implementing this new study technique?
- Very structured time management helps to curb procrastination. Working on curbing procrastination helps you have better time management. It is a “hand in glove” relationship. If you need help with these two aspects, set up an appointment to work individually with Ms. Kimberly Ballard.
- If you are unsure about a new study technique even after evaluating it, consider whether it has enough positive potential that you want to try it out for 1 week to decide whether to implement it permanently.