Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Downward Slope

For most law schools, the semester is on the downward slope to exams - the midpoint for classes has passed.  Students who have been putting things off are waking up to the fact that time is not on their side any longer. 

Many law students whose Spring Breaks are over used the recent time away from class to catch up: outlines were started or completed, paper research was started or completed, and paper drafts were begun.  Law students with Spring Break this week are planning the same machinations.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of the time left in the semester:

  • Add to course outlines weekly so that new material is pulled together while it is still fresh.
  • Write down all of your questions for each course and get them answered now: by classmates, by professors, or through study aids.
  • List all of the topics and subtopics that must be learned for each exam course to get a realistic view of the amount of material.
  • Estimate the amount of time needed to learn each topic already covered in class to the level needed to walk into the exam.
  • Schedule learning that same older material for no more than two-thirds of the remaining class period; reserve the other weeks for learning the new material that has not yet been covered.  For example, if there are six weeks left, try to learn the first eight or nine weeks of material in four weeks and reserve the remaining two weeks to learn brand new material.  During the exam period, focus on the last one to two weeks of new material and review everything else.
  • Do as many practice questions as possible for each exam course.  However, it is ineffective to do practice questions on a topic before you have intensely studied it.  Wait a few days after intensely studying a topic before you do practice questions - you want to see if you retained the information well enough to get the answers correct.
  • Do not skip classes because professors will begin to give information about the final exams and pull material together.
  • Also do not skip classes because the last few weeks are often heavily tested when the course builds over the semester.
  • Expect every step for researching and writing a paper to take longer than you think it will.  Plan your work accordingly.
  • Leave ample time to edit your paper in stages for specific aspects rather than edit for everything at once.  Stages might be for logic, grammar, punctuation, style, accurate quotations, citations, tables/exhibits, or other appropriate categories.

The last part of the semester will be more productive if there is a plan for using the time.  Do not waste time just thinking about study tasks; start studying in earnest.  (Amy Jarmon)

 

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