Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Designing Your Game Plan for a New Semester

Spring semester is a new beginning. You can repeat the strategies that worked. You can modify strategies that need some tweaking. You can implement new strategies to replace bad strategies. Now is your opportunity to make changes where needed!

Here are some things you want to consider:

  • Start a serious study routine now. Too many students waste the first half or two-thirds of the semester before they get down to consistent hard work.
  • Prepare for class with your focus on learning and understanding. Doing time over pages is not learning. Understanding before class has real advantages:
  1. You can follow the discussion better and not wonder what is going on.
  2. You can answer questions better if called on by the professor.
  3. You can take better notes because you know what you already have in class preparation materials (briefs, worksheets, problem sets, etc.).
  4. You can ask questions that you know are relevant and important because you know more about the material.
  • Review before you walk into class to allow yourself to have seen the material twice. If the topic is a continuing one, read the notes from the prior class to gain context.
  • Review your class notes after each class for 15 minutes some time during the same day to reorganize, fill in gaps, add examples, note down questions to ask, and summarize the essential take-away points.
  • Outline each week for each exam course. You will gain insights and context more quickly. You will be outlining while material is still fresh. You will build your master study document easily and be able to start exam review.
  • Distribute your learning throughout the semester. That is, front-load exam study rather than wait to cram. Here are four reasons for doing this:
  1. You will recall, understand, and apply information more easily if you have seen it multiple times during review throughout the semester.
  2. Long-term memory is built over time and allows you to retrieve information later (on the exam, during an advanced course, bar review, or practice).
  3. Cramming equals mere brain dump without any longevity of memory; you will need to relearn everything later.
  4. You will decrease your stress if you spread exam learning over 15 weeks (the usual semester length) rather than a few weeks at the end.
  • Include multiple levels of review in your weekly schedule to front-load exam study:
  1. Prevent forgetting 80% of what you learn within 2 weeks: Read your outline front to back page each week to keep everything fresh.
  2. Intensely review sections of your outline for deep understanding: grapple with the concepts; synthesize those concepts; know how to use them to solve new legal problems.
  3. Apply the material on as many practice questions as possible. Choose questions similar to the exam if you know the type of exam. Practice does make perfect.
  4. Spend time on memory drills to learn the black letter law over time, so it comes to you quickly through repetitive study.
  • Get assistance early and often. Ask your professors questions. Get feedback on practice questions if possible. Read study supplements if needed. Visit with the academic support professional at your school.
  • Adopt a mindset that you can improve! Last semester was last semester. Focus on what you can do this semester.

You have more control over your semester and exams than you realize! You need to use learning and memory to advantage. Take charge of your semester from the beginning rather than dawdling. Go for it! (Amy Jarmon)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2016/01/designing-your-game-plan-for-a-new-semester-.html

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