Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Free Trials for Graphic Organizer Software

Students and ASP professionals are always looking for ways to turn information into visuals.  There are several products that provide free trials of their software.  With the one exception noted, you will lose your work after the 30-day period unless you purchase the software.  So, print out what you make before your trial period ends if you are not going to purchase the software.

SmartDraw: www.smartdraw.com; free download (doesn't say how long the trial lasts)

NovaMind5: www.novamind.com; 30-day free trial

Inspiration: www.inspiration.com; 30-day free trial

The Brain: www.thebrain.com; 30-day free trial; will be able to access Personal Brain software after 30 days, but cannot edit or make new graphic organizers - the features in the purchased product are amazing, but this one is probably  not within most student budgets.

Have fun making your graphic organizers for exam study and workshop presentations.  (Amy Jarmon)

November 29, 2011 in Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Miscellany, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Let's Talk about Stress

You can feel the negative stress level when you walk into the doors of a law school during this time of year.  Negative stress is a problem for some law students all year long, but it tends to be prevalent for many more as the exam period approaches.  It helps to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly about stress to deal with it.

There is such a thing as positive stress.  This type of stress helps us respond in an emergency, helps us perform well under pressure, encourages us to reach our potential, and gets us moving and being productive in our lives.  This positive stress is sometimes called eustress.  When demands on us result in our brains responding neutrally to a situation, it is termed by some researchers as neutral stress or neustress.

When we talk about stress in law school, most people think of the negative stress which is also termed distress in the literature.  The symptoms of distress are warning signs to us that something is wrong and we need to deal with the situation.

Some of the common distress symptoms are:

  • Poor concentration
  • Short temper
  • Trembling hands
  • Churning stomach
  • Tight neck and shoulder muscles
  • Sore lower back
  • Edginess
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Confused thinking
  • Irritability
  • Accelerated speech
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disruption

Distress can lead to decreased productivity when studying, physical illness, fatigue, loss of interest, and decreased satisfaction.  If high levels of distress are experienced for prolonged periods, physical and psychological disorders can result including, migraine headaches, ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, panic attacks, psoriasis, and more.  In addition, a law student's distress can affect their relationships with others.

What are some positive ways you can manage your stress:

  • Avoid being a perfectionist.  Work towards an excellent result rather than a perfect result.  Rarely does a law student get every possible point on an exam question.  Rarely does a law student write the perfect paper.
  • Break down large projects into smaller tasks so that you are not overwhelmed.  Break every topic into subtopics so that you can make progress in smaller time blocks and focus on manageable pieces.  Break down a paper into small research, writing, and editing tasks.  For example, editing can be divided into looking for spelling errors, punctuation errors, grammar errors, logic of the material, flow and style of the writing, citation, or other categories.
  • Avoid people and situations that add to your stress.  Steer clear of certain classmates who cause you more stress because of their attitudes, hyperactivity, panic, or competitiveness; end conversations diplomatically and go on your way.  Find locations to study that do not add to your stress.  If the law school is too stress-laden, go to other academic buildings, a coffeehouse, the university library, or the business center of your apartment complex.
  • Get enough sleep.  Sleep makes an enormous difference in our being able to manage stressful situations.  It gives our body the defenses to fight disease.  Getting sick during exams will only cause you to have more stress.
  • Practice stress release.  Get a massage.  Do relaxation exercises.  Learn biofeedback.  Practice yoga.  Go for a run or swim.
  • Lower your alcohol, sugar, and caffeine intake.  All of these ingredients can cause your stress to increase even though you may initially think they are relaxing you or giving you energy.
  • Seek help if the stress is interfering with your life.  See a doctor or counselor if the stress has become more than what you can manage on your own.   

Take action to keep negative stress from getting the best of you.  It is far better to do something about it than wish you had later.  (Amy Jarmon) 

    

November 28, 2011 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

All of the editors at the Law School Academic Support Blog wish you a Happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Enjoy your days off.  Come back rested for the end of the semester!

November 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Some Quotes to Keep in Mind

Quotes can often give us a change in perspective when we need it.  Here are a few that seem appropriate to the time in the semester.  (Amy Jarmon)

Chinese proverb: Teachers open the door.  You enter by yourself.

John Searle: If you can't say it clearly, you don't understand it.

Dennis Tonsing: "Learn" is an active verb.

Thomas Edison: Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Abigail Adams: Learning is not attained by chance.  It must be sought with ardor and attended to with diligence.

Kim Lyons: Yesterday is a cancelled check.  Tomorrow is a promissory note.  Today is the only cash you have, so spend it wisely.

Unknown: If you study to remember, you will forget; but, if you study to understand, you will remember.

Brian Chargualaf: Every step you take is a step away from where you used to be.

Doc Childre and Howard Martin: Stress is an untransformed opportunity for empowerment.

Yiddish proverb: Borrowed brains have no value.

Irish proverb: You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.

Chinese proverb: You can eat an elephant one bite at a time.

November 21, 2011 in Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pretty Please with Sugar on Top

It is time to call in the reinforcements.  For most law schools, exams are approximately 2 or 3 weeks away.  That means that law students need to focus on studying and ask for help from family and friends on life's more mundane issues.

You may want to consider the following: 

  • Relay to friends and family that you are going into hibernation mode and will not be available until semester break to paint the living room, clean out the attic, plan your sister's June wedding, or shop 'til you drop.  Tell them you love them, and promise a celebration after exams.
  • Warn friends and family that you will be returning phone calls and replying to e-mail less regularly and to be patient if you do not get back to them right away for non-emergencies.  (If you are really gutsy, ask them not to send you funny e-mails, chain poems, and You Tube video clips so that you can spend less time sorting e-mails.)
  • Alert those who are fashionistas in your life that you are swapping high style for comfort, low-maintenance duds until the end of exams - less laundry, less ironing, less dry cleaning - unless they want to provide you with "wardrobe mistress" assistance.
  • If you live with someone who is not a law student, see if you can negotiate that your (roommate, spouse, partner) take on extra chores until exams are over in return for your doing more chores throughout the semester break.
  • If you live with a law student, negotiate swapping off days for chores so that each of you can have some uninterrupted study time without dishes, vacuuming, dusting, and more.  Alternatively, do a "whirling dervish" cleaning together now and then settle for the bare minimum of picking up clutter and washing dishes.
  • If you own a dog, ask your parents if you can bring their "grand-dog" with you at Thanksgiving for an "autumn camp" experience until your exams are over.  You love Fluffy or Fido, but now is not the time to be rushing home constantly for walks, feedings, and play-time.
  • If Auntie Em loves to cook and lives nearby (or you will see her at Thanksgiving), ask if she would be willing to let you pay her for the ingredients and her time in order to make you several large casseroles for your freezer - law students need nourishment during studying.
  • Consider paying the neighbor's teenager to rake leaves, shovel snow, or do other outside work that can be time-consuming.
  • Ask friends who are already running errands in that part of town if they would mind picking up a few groceries, a prescription, or other items for you if you give them the money and a list.
  • If you have children, ask friends and family to babysit, set up play dates, have sleep overs, and generally provide some face time with your children so you can get some blocks of uninterrupted study time.  Offer to reciprocate over the semester break.

If there are other areas of your life that you need help with during your study crunch, speak up.  In fact, beg, plead, cajole, and get on your knees if you have to do so.  You can and will make it up to them over the semester break.  (Amy Jarmon)     

November 19, 2011 in Exams - Studying, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Associate Director of Academic Support - Writing Specialist Position at TJSL

JOB TITLE:               Associate Director of Academic Success-Writing Specialist

DEPARTMENT:        Academic Success Program

REPORTS TO:           Director of Academic Success

POSITION STATUS: Full-time, Exempt

GENERAL SUMMARY: 

The Associate Director of Academic Success- Writing Specialist will support the mission and vision of the law school as a part of the professional staff in the Academic Success Program.   The successful candidate will ideally have prior experience with writing instruction or tutoring in a law school, other academic institution or law firm.  The Associate Director- Writing Specialist will take the lead in evaluating, teaching and otherwise assisting students with elevating their writing skills to a level commensurate with the demands of the legal profession and other professional settings.  The Associate Director- Writing Specialist will provide assistance with monitoring learning outcomes, academic performance, and academic support activities for all grade levels, and will participate in all other student retention activities as a part of the Student Services Team.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES:

Work with the Director of Academic Success to administer the academic success program, to include providing one-on-one and small group tutoring; providing support and guidance to the advanced student mentors/TA’s, and all other tasks as assigned. 

Administer and review diagnostic writing assessments.

Hold tutorial sessions regarding mechanical writing skills, including but not limited to grammar, sentence structure, small scale organization and dictation.

Develop and supervise the implementation of individual writing skills remediation plans for students.

Work collaboratively with the legal writing faculty, the Director of Academic Success and the Associate Deans to assess and address the current needs for programming and support.

Provide structured writing, organizational and analytical assistance to current students.

Work with the Director to tailor current programming to meet the needs of the incoming first semester first year students each term.

Participate in the presentation of academic success program activities for first term first year students beginning with the New Student Orientation Program.

Share academic success program teaching responsibilities with other Academic Success Program staff.

Povide administrative support to the Academic Success Program.

Serve as a member of the Student Services Team to provide support, counseling and advice to students and recent graduates.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • JD degree or other graduate degree.
  • Minimum 3 years experience practicing law or delivering writing instruction in an academic institution or law firm.
  • Admission to a state bar in the United States preferred but not required.
  • Previous experience in legal education preferred.
  • Prior academic tutoring or experience in an academic success program preferred.

WORK SCHEDULE:

 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday, weekends and evenings as needed.

SALARY:

Commensurate with experience.

Website for job posting:

http://www.tjsl.edu/sites/default/files/files/Associate-Director-of-Academic-Success-Writing-Specialist.pdf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 17, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Staying Motivated

Students are really tired at this point in the semester.  If they have stayed on top of things, they will be able to have more down time during the Thanksgiving holidays.  That should help to recharge their batteries.  If they are behind, they should still get some rest during the break; but they will need to study as well.

Here are some things to consider to keep yourself motivated during the remainder of the semester and through exams:

  • If your law school reading and exam periods begin after only one week of classes post-Thanksgiving, consider doing all of your reading for the last week over the Thanksgiving break.  Then review before class for 30 - 45 minutes to refresh your memory.  Not having to read the last week of classes will give you lots of exam review time - a motivator in itself.
  • Set realistic goals for each week for exam study.  What subtopics or topics can you intensely review for each exam course?  How many practice questions can you complete?  If you set unrealistic goals, you will de-motivate yourself; you will become discouraged when it becomes obvious that you will not meet the goals.
  • For each exam course, make a list of topics and subtopics that you must learn before the final exam.  By focusing on subtopics, it will make the list very long.  However, it is easier to find time to study one or two subtopics than to find time for an entire topic.  You will feel less overwhelmed because you can make progress in small increments.  Also, you will be able to cross off subtopics more quickly than entire topics.  Thus, you will see your progress more easily and stay motivated.
  • Read each of your outlines through from cover to cover each week for each exam course.  This reading is not to learn everything - that is what you will do in intense review of the topics or subtopics.  Instead this additional outline reading is to keep all of the information fresh no matter how long it has been since you intensely reviewed a topic or will be before you will get to intense review for some topics.  You will feel better about your exam review as you catch yourself saying "I know this mataerial" or "I remember all of this information" about prior topics that you studied.  You will motivate yourself for future topics waiting for intense review by realizing "I'll be able to learn this" or "I remember some of this already even though I haven't studied it carefully."
  • Take your breaks strategically.  Sprinkle short 5-minute breaks into longer 3- or 4-hour study blocks.  Get up and walk arouond or stretch on those breaks rather than sitting still.  After a large block of study time, take a longer break to exercise or eat a meal.  Use the breaks as rewards for sticking to your task until you have completed what you planned to finish. 
  • Surround yourself with encouragers.  Avoid classmates who are all doom and gloom.  Have phone conversations with family and friends who will cheer you on and support you.  Find classmates who are willing to work together to keep all of you in the support group motivated and on track.
  • Plan several fun things that you want to do over the semester break: taking a day trip with friends, going to the cinema several times, attending a concert, playing basketball with a younger sibling, shopping for new clothes.  By having things to look forward to, you can tell yourself "I just need to keep up the hard work for a few more weeks and then I get to do (fill in the blank) as a reward."

Think about individual strategies that work for you to stay motivated but might not apply to a classmate.  Examples of motivators for getting your work done might be: time with your spouse, time with your child, time with your pet, spiritual devotion time, time for a longer run on the weekend.  (Amy Jarmon)   
    

November 17, 2011 in Exams - Studying, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two Academic Support/Bar Positions at Case Western

CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW invites applications for a Director of the Academic and Writing Support Program and Writing Center beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year.   The individual will also have the faculty rank of Instructor.  Depending on experience and qualifications, the initial contract will be for a period ranging from one to five years.    

This faculty member will have the following responsibilities:  1) staff and supervise the Legal Writing Center; 2) provide workshop instruction and individual tutoring to students in need of academic support; and 3) design and present course and supplementary instruction in bar-exam preparation. Candidates should have experience in academic support work and bar exam preparation.  Minimum academic requirement:  JD or equivalent from a US or foreign law school. 

In employment, as in education, Case Western Reserve University is committed to Equal Opportunity and Diversity. Women, veterans, members of underrepresented minority groups, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. 

Case Western Reserve University provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process should contact the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at 216-368-8877 to request a reasonable accommodation. Determinations as to granting reasonable accommodations for any applicant will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Contact:  Catherine Adkins, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, (216) 368-2108, cca22@case.edu.  Further information about the law school is available at http://law.case.edu.

 

CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW invites applications for the position of Assistant Director of the Academic and Writing Support Program and Writing Center beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year.   The individual will also have the faculty rank of Instructor.  Depending on experience and qualifications, the initial contract will be for a period ranging from one to five years.    

This faculty member will have the following responsibilities, along with the program’s Director:  1) staff and supervise the Legal Writing Center; 2) provide workshop instruction and individual tutoring to students in need of academic support; and 3) design and present courses and supplementary instruction in bar-exam preparation. Candidates should have experience in academic support work and bar exam preparation.  Minimum academic requirement:  JD or equivalent from a US or foreign law school. 

In employment, as in education, Case Western Reserve University is committed to Equal Opportunity and Diversity. Women, veterans, members of underrepresented minority groups, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. 

Case Western Reserve University provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process should contact the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at 216-368-8877 to request a reasonable accommodation. Determinations as to granting reasonable accommodations for any applicant will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Contact:  Catherine Adkins, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, (216) 368-2108, cca22@case.edu.  Further information about the law school is available at http://law.case.edu.

November 16, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Director of Academic Support Position at University of Akron

The University of Akron School of Law is accepting applications for the position of Director, Academic Support Program. The responsibilities associated with this position include: counseling and tutoring students to ensure academic success and retention; conducting workshops and programs on analytical, learning, and time management skills; coordinating, training, and supervising peer tutoring program, including recruiting peer tutors and helping to design effective peer tutoring sessions; designing academic support for students, including working with professors and implementing skills training; assisting students with basic writing and analytical skills; organizing and coordinating the teaching of a skills-based first-year course and a final-year bar preparation course for at-risk students; other duties assigned. J.D. degree required. Background in education or skills training, including effective involvement in academic support programs highly preferred. Legal experience preferred. Other qualifications include demonstrated record of effective self-starting and follow-through, demonstrated success in assisting student learning, ability to identify methods to enhance learning for multiple learning styles, ability to build rapport with all students, including at-risk students, and demonstrated ability to work well with a variety of constituencies.

Send cover letter, resume, and list of references to:

Angela Smith, asm17@uakron.edu

 

November 15, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Resource for Students Studying for the MBE

Keith Elkin, Dean of Students at Dickinson School of Law - Penn State Law, has published a book through Wolters Kluwer on studying for the MBE.  The book is titled MBE: Beginning Your Campaign to Pass the Bar Exam and was published in the summer.

Keith teaches Fundamental Skills for the Bar Examination at his law school and has based the book on his experiences with his students.  His goal in the course and with the book is to prepare students for their commercial bar review courses by providing them with practical ways to study and learn for the bar exam.  Thus, the book is an early preparation tool to be used in law school bar preparation courses or by students who need additional learning techniques to be successful.

His approach is focused especially on the bar-takers who will struggle in their bar preparation: poor performance in law school, previously failing the bar, foreign lawyers, and others.  He explains the several steps in his approach to preparation and provides the reader with many exercises to learn how to implement his strategies.  Using the methods in his course and book has increased his "at risk" students' bar passage rate significantly.

Chapter 1 of the book is an introduction to the bar exam.  In Chapter 2, the author looks at the broad lens concept as a framework for identifying the fundamental legal issues and the applicable legal rules for questions.  Chapters 3 and 4 look at the narrow lens framework of actively reading fact patterns, asking questions during that reading, and answering those questions raised.  Chapter 5 demonstrates how to learn through wrong answers: identifying the mistakes, the reasons for the mistakes, and the right answers.  A quick wrap-up of tips is provided in Chapter 6.

If you have not yet seen Keith's book, I would suggest that you take a look at it.  This MBE resource may be valuable to you for a bar preparation course syllabus and for your students in their early bar preparation.  (Amy Jarmon)

 

   

 

November 15, 2011 in Bar Exam Preparation, Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Fallacy of Mere Memorization

Law students try at times to substitute memorization of the black letter law for actual understanding of their course material.  They are then surprised that they receive grades in the "C" range in return for their efforts.

The focus on memorization is a leftover from many undergraduate courses where the professor just wanted students to regurgitate information on a page for an "A" grade.  The difference in law school is that students have to go beyond mere memorization.  Memorizing the rules, exceptions to rules, methodologies, policy arguments, and so forth is essential to a good grade in law school; but memorization is just the beginning of the learning process rather than the end goal.

Lawyers in essence are problem solvers.  They are confronted with client problems that they must solve either by prior knowledge or through research.  The easy questions are dealt with fairly quickly.  The hard questions are the ones that consume their days and our court system.  To problem solve, lawyers must understand the law and how to apply it to legal scenarios.

Law students must also be able to problem solve.  On their exams, they are faced with new legal scenarios that they must analyze.  To do so effectively, they need to understand the law that applies to the situation and explain their analysis in detail.  Yes, they need to have memorized the law so that they can state it accurately.  But without understanding they will be able to apply it only superficially.

Memorization is the start.  Understanding is the key.  Application is the reward.  (Amy Jarmon)

November 12, 2011 in Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Digital Natives" and Learning

Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog for information on Brian Cowan's article on November 6, 2011 in The Chronicle of Higher Education on digital natives and their learning.  Although the article is about university students in general, it is relevant to law school students.  The article can be found here (subscription required): 'Digital Natives' Aren't Necessarily Digital Learners.  (Amy Jarmon)

November 11, 2011 in Teaching Tips, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

There's a whole lot of procrastinating going on

As the stress and anxiety of preparing for exams increase, some law students seem to go into overdrive on their procrastinating.  Rather than motivating them to knuckle down and study, their stress and anxiety are causing them to turn their habit of procrastinating into mega-procrastination. 

Here are the favorite ways of procrastinating that I am seeing among my law students right now:

  • Shopping on-line for hours with or without actually purchasing something.
  • Talking on the cell phone endlessly about trivial matters.
  • Spending hours reading and replying to e-mails - especially the ones with cartoons, You Tube videos, chain e-mails, stories, and jokes.
  • Spending hours on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Playing endless games of Spider Solitaire to beat their old record.
  • Playing endless hours of Internet games so they can play with their on-line gaming friends.
  • Watching whatever there is on TV that is mindless and unexceptional.
  • Watching multiple re-runs of sitcom episodes they have already seen multiple times.
  • Watching endless news coverage (so they can feel righteous about being well-informed).
  • Watching whatever sensational trial is currently in the headlines (so they can pretend to be doing something law-related and productive).
  • Sitting in the student lounge talking with friends and drinking coffee.
  • Sitting in a "study group" talking endlessly about the latest law school gossip.
  • Running lots of errands (so they can claim to be doing a lot when they fritter away time).
  • Taking three-hour naps each day.
  • Sleeping in until noon or 1:00 p.m. each weekend day. 

How do you stop procrastinating?

  • Remove yourself from the environment where you procrastinate and find another location to study.
  • Turn off or leave elsewhere your laptop, cell phone, or other electronic distractions.
  • Unplug the TV and put it in the closet until exams are over.
  • Do not study on your bed or the recliner/couch where you are tempted to nap.
  • Get 7 hours of sleep minimum at night with a regular bedtime and wake-up time so that you do not need naps or late sleep-ins.
  • Batch your errands and run them once during the week.
  • Use the student lounge for lunch and the occasional break rather than live there.
  • Avoid study groups that are merely social events with a pseudo-academic name.
  • Allow yourself to answer e-mails, watch TV, make phone calls only at scheduled times once or twice a day - and then only as rewards for having completed your studying.
  • Break tasks into very small pieces so that you can convince yourself to get started.  Beginning is always the hardest part.
  • Make a list of small tasks and subtopics for each course so that you can cross-off tasks as you complete them and see your progress. 
  • Set up breaks as rewards for getting work done.

As you see progress on your small tasks, you will begin to feel better about yourself.  As you cross more and more tasks off your list, you will have less stress and anxiety.  (Amy Jarmon)

November 10, 2011 in Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Some Common Errors in Exam Study

Students often study for exams in ways that are counter-productive.  They may adopt old undergraduate methods for exam study because they do not understand how law school exams are different.  Well-meaning advice from upper-division law students may lead them into methods that go against memory and learning theory.  Here are some common techniques that do not work and why they are not wise:

Re-reading cases is rarely an effective strategy.  The professor is not going to ask a student to tell him everything the student knows about a case.  Instead the professor is going to ask the student to apply the essentials from all the cases on a topic to a new fact scenario.  Time is better spent on pulling together the topics and subtopics with the law for each.  The cases become illustrations in that bigger picture.

Reading an entire study aid right before the exam.  There is too much information to absorb at the end of the semester when reading an entire study aid.  The study aid may not match the specific professor's version of the course which will lead a student to learn the material in a way that actually makes it harder for the professor to find points on the exam.  Study aids tend to include multiple topics or subtopics that the professor never touched on in class.

Choosing to complete very few practice questions.  Exams in law school are all about applying the law to new fact scenarios.  Practice questions allow a student to check understanding of the material and ability to spot issues.  Practice also allows one to get really good at organizing answers and writing them out - especially if some questions are done under timed conditions.   

Treating all exam courses equally may lead to trouble.  It is the rare student who has a truly equal situation in all courses.  The amount of time spent for exam study in each course should consider: the amount of material covered in the course, the difficulty of the course for the student, the amount of black letter law to memorize, the number of practice questions to be completed, the format of the exam, and any other variables specific to a course and professor.  Time should be divided among the courses to reflect these variables. 

Studying X course for a week, then Y course for a week, then Z course for a week, and so forth.  By focusing on one course to the exclusion of other courses for exam study, the student merely provides time to forget the material for the courses not studied.  By the time the first course is cycled back to, even more material will be forgotten in that course.  It is better to complete exam study in each course each week if at all possible. 

Not preparing for classes in order to study for exams more.  This strategy can be counter-productive because one is limiting deep understanding of the new material that will be on the final exam.  By depending just on the highlights covered in class, the student loses the context as to why the law works the way it does. 

Taking all of one's remaining absences at the end of the semester in order to study for exams more.  Professors often give information about the exam during the last classes.  Many professors will pull the course together at the end.  Some professors will test heavily on the end material in the course.  For all of these reasons, missing class is not a good idea.

Smart exam studying is the key to success.  By using time and techniques to be efficient and effective, students can get higher grades on their exams.  (Amy Jarmon)

November 9, 2011 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Use Study Groups Wisely

Many law students are forming study groups for the first time at this point in the semester.  Instead of using a group throughout the semester to consolidate material and compare outlines, they are narrowing their focus to problem areas in understanding and practice questions. 

Study groups can be very effective.  Students may benefit greatly from the practice question discussions when they realize they would have missed certain nuances in the law or confused steps in the analysis.  In addition, working through problems together helps one monitor preparedness on a topic in comparison to classmates.  Finally, study groups can serve an accountability function - if you promise the group you will do something before the next meeting, you have the motivation to stay on task.

However, students need to make sure that they do not overuse or depend on a study group to the detriment of their individual learning.  It has to be a balance.  After all, one's study group cannot answer the questions for you in the actual exam.

Consider these points to monitor the balance between study group and individual time:

  • Make a list for each course of all topics with subtopics that you must learn before the final exam.  Use monthly calendars for November and December.  Mark your last day of classes.  Fill in your exam schedule.
  • Lay out on the calendar for each day through the end of classes which subtopics for which courses you will personally learn during the remaining time.  This method helps you front-load learning so that you leave only a realistic amount for the exam period itself.
  • Consider how much time you need for the grunt memory work on rules, exceptions to rules, methodologies, and other information.  Determine how you will do your memory drills: flashcards, writing the rules ten timex, reciting the rules aloud, mind maps for each rule.  Distribute that time throughout the calendars.
  • Decide when you will do practice questions with your study group to get group input.  You will get more from these sessions if all of the members think about the questions ahead of time and come with outlined answers.
  • Leave time for practice questions that you will complete on your own.  You should outline every one and write out as many as possible.  Take some of the questions under exam conditions.  (See Dennis Tonsing's November 2nd posting for more information on scheduling your exam study and practice questions.)
  • If you find that group time is taking away from your ability to learn the material in time for the exam, moderate your group time.  For example, if the group wants to meet for four hours, perhaps you will go for the portion that focuses on the course you find most difficult but not stay for discussion on other courses.  Or you might go for the practice question discussion but not the more general discussion of course material.  Explain to the group why you are not attending the full meetings so there will not be hard feelings.
  • If the study group becomes non-productive because of personalities, too much socializing, or other negative dynamics, diplomatically resign from the group.  You may be able to find one study partner who will be more compatible than trying to stay with the group.

Consider the efficiency of being in a group (wise use of time) and the effectiveness from being in a group ("oomph" out of the time).  (Amy Jarmon)

          

November 4, 2011 in Exams - Studying, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

CORRECTION: Deadline to register for the NECASP conference: NOV 15

Please note:

The deadline for registering for the NECASP conference at BC Law is Nov 15.

My apologies for forgetting to add that to the original post.(RCF)

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New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Annual Conference

ASP Without Stigma: Serving Our Diverse Populations”

Monday, December, 5, 2011

Boston College Law School

9am-2:30 pm

Please join us for the third annual NECASP conference at Boston College Law School. This year’s conference will feature admissions professionals and law students discussing who to best attract and serve the increasingly diverse law student population.  Keynote speaker will be Jacq Nance, Assistant Director of Admissions, UConn Law School, who will speak about what type of support students look for in law schools.

Schedule:

9-9:15-Registration

9:15-9:30-Welcome Address by Dean Vincent Rougeau, Boston College Law School

9:30-10:30-Keynote Address by Jacq Nance, Asst. Director of Admissions, UConn Law School

and Tracy West, Assistant Dean for Students, Diversity Initiatives, and Academic Advising, Boston College Law School

 Followed by Q and A

10:45-11:45-Mason Dunn, UNH Law student, LGBT issues and ASP

Followed by Q and A

12-1-lunch and law student panel

                Jennifer Kent, BC Law School, BLSA President

                Ramey Sylvester, The University of New Hampshire School of Law Diversity Action Coalition

1-2-group discussion of hypothetical situations encountered in ASP

2-2:30-Conference Wrap-Up

 

Registration:

$25, payable by check to NECASP by NOVEMBER 15

Please mail checks to:    Elizabeth Stillman-Suffolk Law School

120 Tremont Street

Boston, MA 02108-4977

November 3, 2011 in Meetings, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ten Quick Ways to Energize Your Day

This time in the semester is difficult for a lot of students because they are running low on energy.  On the one hand, the semester seems like it has been lasting forever; on the other hand, exams are just around the corner.  Now is the time when students often depend on caffeine and sugar to get them through the week.  However, those two roads often lead to crashes, jitters, and cravings.

Here are some healthier ways to get an energy boost:

  • Walk around the building twice - outside if the weather is nice where you are located; inside if not - and breathe deeply and swing your arms.
  • Take a power nap of no more than 30 minutes - longer will make you groggy.
  • Spend 15 minutes doing relaxation exercises such as gentle neck stretches, ankle rotations, deep breathing.
  • Laugh.  Tell a story or joke.  Remember a funny incident from your childhood.  Read the comics.
  • Read some inspirational quotes or scriptures.
  • Do several random, small acts of kindness for other people.
  • Drink water with lots of ice in it.
  • Eat a piece of fruit: apple, banana, grapes, raisins.
  • Eat a handful of nuts: almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
  • Eat a granola bar.

Whenever you hit a slump in your energy level during the day, choose one or two of these quick fixes to get back on top.  (Amy Jarmon)

 

 

November 3, 2011 in Miscellany, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Finals Study Plan

Thanksgiving approaches. Time for students to commit their study plans to writing!  Here are my recommendations for students who want to prepare for exams AND enjoy their families and friends during a (partially) relaxed Thanksgiving break.

For each course, set target dates for completion of your outline (course summary), early completion of your briefing for class, and the number of practice exam questions you intend to answer.  Thanksgiving Day is Thursday, November 24, 2011. Usually, law schools have no classes on the day before, Wednesday, November 23. Reading week and exams follow shortly after the semester resumes.

For many students, time with family and friends is too important to neglect at this time of year.  Plan to relax!  Writing out your detailed study schedule before November (then sticking to it) will allow you to relax, because you will see the relaxation as PART of the study plan instead of interference with it.  

Example for Contracts class:

A.  Outline completed by November 14.
B.  All cases briefed for class by November 16.
C.  50 MBE questions answered by November 22.
D.  50 single-issue essay questions answered in writing by November 24.
E.  20 one-hour essay questions answered in outline form before reading week.
F.  15 one-hour essay questions answered under exam conditions by 3 days before exam date.

The next step is to break each of those (A through F) down into components.  How many hours per week/day do you realistically estimate it will take you to complete your outline, and to brief the cases ahead of the class schedule? Spread those hours out on your daily calendar.

Do the same for the questions you intend to answer, including notes as to the source of the questions.  You can start gathering questions today.  Here's an idea: exchange questions with your study group, to share the burden of finding questions that address the issues you need to focus on.

Do this for each class, and you'll see that you have enough time between now and the date of each exam to prepare fully, so that you can enter the exam room with well-deserved confidence!

Look in your law library for an old issue of Student Lawyer Magazine, an American Bar Association publication ... Volume 33, Number 7, dated March 2005, includes an article I wrote entitled, "A Plan for Your Exams."  The article provides a more detailed explanation of this exam study plan!  (djt)

November 2, 2011 in Advice, Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)