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Read and read all of it. I know that may sound like silly advice, but you would be surprised how easy it is to get lazy or to freeze up in the face of long reading assignments. Not reading assignments leads to being ill prepared for class and doing things like looking up case briefs online instead of writing your own. Sure, that sounds like a fine way to get by, and I have to admit, I am guilty of doing that on occasion. In the long run, the only person you are cheating is yourself. Do not wait until finals sneak up on you to cram. Read early, read often, and read it all.
2. Talk about it.
The best way to fully understand cases and concepts it to talk about it after reading the material. Some people choose to do this with a study group, with their study buddy, casually in the lounge, or with a professor. Talking about new concepts helps you create a dialogue about the topic and solidify your understanding of the material. I find this is particularly helpful for when you are called on in class. I give better and more thought-out answers when I have talked about the material with a colleague prior to class.
When a whole bunch of new material in a new language is being thrown at you all at once from five different classes, seeing the forest through the trees can be difficult. It is helpful to do quick reviews of the material either on your own or with your study buddy/group. Look at the table of contents in the front of your book, read the headings and sub-headings. What is the theme of this section of material? What over-arching theme is my professor trying to make me understand? Perhaps this is a good time to start your outline or fill in your notes.
Yes, you have a lot of reading to do. Yes, you could do a little more research tonight. Yes, you could brief just one more case. I am here to tell you to go home and get some rest. Everyone has their own schedule – some like studying early in the morning, some like to study late at night. Whatever study schedule you choose to have, be sure to build in some downtime. Go home. Let your mind rest. If you push yourself too hard, you are going to crash and burn quickly. School, just like the rest of life, requires balance. Part of that balance is putting down the books and getting some good sleep.
Keep reading, talking, reviewing and resting. Do not give up on yourself! You can do this! I cannot lie to you … you will eventually have some version of a meltdown. Do not worry – this is completely normal. It happens when you start questioning why you chose law school and why the heck are you torturing yourself. You had a goal when you chose to go to law school. Remember that goal. It is important.
Good luck and study on!