Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Three Little Questions for Exam Studying

Students who are just now realizing how close exams are and how much they have to do are looking for ways to be more efficient and effective.  The trick is to continue the daily work for classes but still find time for exam review.  A good time management schedule can help a student see where everything can be completed.  (See my Thursday, September 6th post "When will I have time for . . . " for advice on time management.)

When looking specifically at exam study tasks, a student should ask the following questions:

  1. What is the payoff for exams of this exam study task?
  2. Is this exam study task the most efficient use of time?
  3. Is this exam study task the most effective way of doing the task?

Question One:  This question is focusing on whether the exam study task is really going to help one do well on exams.  If not, then the task should be dropped (or modified) for a task that will have more payoff. 

  • Example 1:  Re-reading cases to study for exams rarely has much payoff because the exam will not ask you questions about the specific cases and instead will want you to use what you learned from the cases to solve new legal problems.
  • Example 2: Reading sections in a study aid that do not correspond to topics covered by your professor in the course will have little payoff on your exam.  If your professor did not cover defamation, reading about it in a study aid "just because it is there" in the book is a waste of time.

In example 1, you would get more payoff by spending time on learning your outline and doing practice questions.  In example 2, you would get more payoff by reading only those sections of the study aid that are covered by your professor's course and about which you are confused.

Question Two:  This question focuses on whether the task that you have determined has payoff is a wise use of your time.  If you do a task with payoff inefficiently, you can still be making a study mistake.

  • Example 1: You have not bothered reviewing and learning a particular topic for the exam yet.  You decide to complete a set of 15 multiple-choice questions on the topic.  You get 8 of them wrong and guessed at 3 of the ones you got right.
  • Example 2:  After outlining, you have lots of questions about the first three topics that your professor has covered in the course.  You decide to worry about them later and continue on through the course with more questions surfacing each day.

In example 1, practice questions have payoff, but you wasted time because the questions would have more accurately gauged your depth of understanding and preparedness for the exam if you had done them after review.  In example 2, listing the questions you have on material has payoff, but you wasted time by not getting all questions for the first three topics answered while you had the context before moving on with new material. 

Question Three:  This question focuses on whether the task that you determined has payoff is getting you the maximum results.  If you do a task that has payoff ineffectively, you can also be making a study mistake.

  • Example 1:  You are reviewing your outline which is a high-payoff task.  However, you choose to review your outline in the student lounge while talking to friends and watching the news on the television.
  • Example 2:  You join a study group which meets every week and has an agenda of topics and practice questions that will be covered.  You attend regularly but never go over the material or practice questions before the meetings.

In example 1, your outline review was ineffective because you were not focused fully on that exam study task.  You may say you spent two hours reviewing, but your results will be far less than the time you pretend to have spent.  In example 2, your exan study was ineffective because you got minimal results compared to what would have been possible if you had prepared before the meeting. 

Spending time on exam studying must have payoff, be efficient, and be effective to deserve being called exam study.  Otherwise, you only fool yourself.  (Amy Jarmon)      

October 20, 2012 in Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Accentuate the Positive

We are on the downward slope of our semester now.  The midpoint in classes for our law school passed last week.  The level of stress among students has increased as has the level of negativity.  It takes a stout constitution to stay focused on the postive instead of getting mired down in the negative.

Here are some suggestions to help students accentuate the postive:

  • Remember why you came to law school and keep those reasons in mind.  Law school was the pathway for meeting a goal.  If that goal is still valid, then law school is still valid.
  • Realize that you can only control yourself and your time.  You cannot control other law students who are super-competitive, moaning and groaning, irritable, or stressed.
  • Realize that you are not going to like every other law student any more than if you chose 700 (or however many law students are at your school) random people and put them together.  Some people will be unlikeable, gossipy, childish, lazy, mean or have some other negative trait.  That is life.  Do not paint the other nice people with a broad brush that condemns everyone.    
  • Remove yourself from negative situations.  Avoid people who stress you out, focus on doom and gloom, and complain constantly.  Refuse to become engaged in conversation with someone who wants to boost his own ego at your expense by attempting to make you feel less capable.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.  Seek out law students who are supportive of fellow students, who have a balanced approach to law school, and who are focused on doing well while still being nice people.  Talk on the phone each day with supportive family and friends.
  • Avoid "should of" statements.  You cannot change the choices you made earlier in the semester about outlines, study habits, and more.  You can change how you move forward with your studying.  Focus on positive changes rather than past bad decisions.
  • Break down assignments into smaller tasks so that the work becomes less overwhelming.  You can cross off small tasks more quickly and feel a sense of accomplishment.
  • Make a list of the questions that you have about the material for each course.  Get the questions answered now rather than later.  You will feel better if you are not as worried about things you do not understand.  Get help from a classmate or your professor.
  • Avoid exaggerating your concerns about a course or task.  "I am clueless about Federal Income Tax" is much more negative than "I do not understand depreciation."  "I'll never get my outlines done" is much more damaging to your confidence  than "I will get two outlines done this weekend and two by the following weekend."
  • Make sure you have some down time from studying and take care of yourself.  Take a dinner break.  Exercise at least three times a week.  Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  Take a couple of nights off on the weekend.

A full-time law student should be able to get all study tasks (reading, briefing, outlining, finishing assignments/papers, reviewing for exams) done in 50-55 hours per week.  That still leaves time to have a life outside of law school.  If you use your time wisely, you will feel more positive about law school because you will see that you are getting everything done and having guilt-free time for yourself.  (Amy Jarmon)  



October 18, 2012 in Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WCCASP Meeting Agenda for November 2nd

West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals

Teaching, Scholarship, and Service:  Professional Development for Academic Support Professionals

Friday, November 2, 2012 ~ 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Held at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, CA

[Optional dinner out on Thursday evening for those in town!]


9:30 a.m.              Coffee and Registration

10:00 a.m.           Welcome to the WCCASP Conference – Courtney Lee, Pacific McGeorge

10:05 a.m.           Welcome to Pacific McGeorge – Tim Naccarato, Pacific McGeorge

10:15 a.m.           Advancing Your ASP Career and Communicating the Importance of ASP

Presented by Jendayi Saada, University of La Verne

11:10 a.m.           Developing a Classroom Outcome & Assessment Plan

Presented by Joan Harrington, Santa Clara & Jagdish (Jay) Bijlani, Golden Gate

12:00 p.m.           LUNCH and ASP Idea Laboratory

Moderated by Emily Scivoletto, University of San Diego

                                Lunch provided by Pacific McGeorge

1:00 p.m.             KEYNOTE:  Writing and Publishing ASP Scholarship

                                Presented by Louis Schulze, New England School of Law

2:00 p.m.             Writing Topic Roundtable and Steps to Get Your Writing Moving

                                Moderated by Lisa Young, Seattle University

2:30 p.m.             Well-deserved Break

2:45 p.m.             Best Practices in Making Scholarly Presentations and Drafting Presentation Proposals

                                Presented by Courtney Lee, Pacific McGeorge & Lisa Young, Seattle University

3:15 p.m.             A Tale of Two Performance Test Courses

                                Presented by Paul Bateman, Southwestern & Chris Ide-Don, UC Davis

4:00 p.m.             Our Wonderful Demanding Profession:  Avoiding ASP Burnout

                                Presented by Jennifer Carr, UNLV

4:45 p.m.             Wrap-up and Next Steps for WCCASP 

(Registration materials were attached to the ASP listserv announcement sent out this week.) 


October 17, 2012 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 15, 2012


The University of Texas School of Law invites applicants for the position of Assistant Dean For Student Affairs.  The Assistant Dean is responsible for supervising the administrative office that oversees the academic experience of students at UT Law School.  Specific functions of the Student Affairs Office include administering University and Law School rules and regulations, maintaining student records, implementing a course registration process, and advising students on course selection and other academic matters.   The Assistant Dean is responsible for supervising the student discipline process of the University, implementing accommodations for disabilities, managing all law student organizations, facilitating students applications to state bar authorities, and producing the UT Law Graduation, also known as the Sunflower Ceremony.  The position requires a highly motivated individual, with excellent interpersonal skills for working with students, faculty, and administrators.  The Assistant Dean for Student Affairs must be involved in maintaining high standards in student life and academic counseling.  There is a strong preference for candidates with a J.D. and five years of experience working in higher education with student programs.

More information is available at

UT Law School has long been recognized as one of the top institutions for legal education in the United States.  Approximately, seventy-five tenured and tenure track faculty and thirty clinical faculty teach over 1200 students in the Juris Doctor and Master of Laws programs each year.  In terms of both scholarly distinction and success in the classroom, UT Law School has long had one of the most outstanding faculties in the nation.  Over 23,000 living graduates are involved in industry, business, government service, elective office, judicial office, and the practice of law throughout the United States and the world.  For more information about UT Law School, please visit   

Austin, Texas is a vibrant community within Central Texas.  Home to the State Capital, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Museum, the Austin City Limits Music Festival, and four Fortune 500 Corporations, it is the fourteenth largest city in the United States with over 800,000 residents.  Austin often is mentioned in discussions of this country’s most livable cities because of its diverse culture and its rolling hills that are surrounded by lakes. 

October 15, 2012 in Job Descriptions, Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Welcome Rebecca Nickell to ASP

Please join us in welcoming Rebecca Nickell as the new Student Success Coordinator at Concordia University School of Law.  I have included below part of the press release from her law school as a way for you to get to know her.  Next time you are at a conference or workshop, please introduce yourselves to Rebecca.  (Amy Jarmon)

"Concordia University School of Law Associate Dean of Academics Greg Sergienko is pleased to announce the selection of Rebecca Nickell as Student Success Coordinator. “We're very pleased to have Rebecca joining the team,” Associate Dean Sergienko said. “She had a stellar record in law school herself, and her wealth of experience in the area of student success will help our students and faculty succeed in our learning and teaching.”

Prior to her appointment at Concordia Law, Nickell was in a similar role at Phoenix School of Law in Phoenix, Ariz., where she was instrumental in the success of students. Nickell was responsible for developing curriculum and teaching a 3‐credit hour course focused on the essential skills required for the Uniform Bar Exam. In addition, she mentored and counseled graduates navigating the bar preparation period. She also fulfilled the role of academic counselor and taught a non‐credit class on developing study skills and mastering the law school exam.

Nickell received her B.S. in chemical engineering and petroleum refining, from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. In 2010, she earned her J.D. from Phoenix School of Law. During her legal studies, Nickell ranked second in her class and aided the Phoenix Law Review as a board member and technical editor.

Preceding law school, Nickell worked as an engineer at both Speedfam‐IPEC and ST Microelectronics, where she was received patents as a co‐inventor on processes related to semi‐conductor manufacturing methods."

October 15, 2012 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)