Five weeks into the semester, and you might find yourself thinking, “is it over yet?” The surprising answer is; the end is closer than you might realize. With final exams around the second week of December, two months will go by fairly fast. Thus, this blog seeks to discuss some goals that might be worth pursuing between now and finals.
Most law students take between 3-5 classes a semester. After four months, most law students also have hundreds of pages of notes – per class. To avoid having to sift through mountains of information the week before finals, start outlining key concepts you’ve learned from each course up to this point. At first, it may take up all of your weekend, but the reward lies in efficient repetition. Efficient repetition is being able to memorize everything you’ve learned up to this point on a consistent basis. That way, you’re not reteaching yourself the basic concepts of a course two days before the exam. When you start your outline, revisit your notes from the first few weeks of class. Look for terms and definitions that you wrote down. Also look for “tests” for solving legal issues. Both, are all that your outline should consist of. Don’t waste your time writing down case facts or names unless your professor prefers that on an exam (as a 3L, I’ve yet to meet one that does).
Something that has helped me in law school is putting in a set number of hours on the weekends and when it gets close to finals, during the week. Consider committing yourself to studying/going to class eight hours a day during the week and 6 hours a day during the weekend. By treating law school as a job, you’ll accomplish a few key things. The first thing that will happen is that committing to the work will lead to a better understanding of the material itself. You’ll find yourself more engaged with the day as well. Both results lead to a student who is considerably more confident when finals roll around. That’s because law final exams basically force you to confront two questions in competent and efficient manner. The first is, “did I put in the time to understand this material?” And second, “did I engage the material in a way that allows me to write concise, insightful answers?” Putting in work on the weekend for six hours a day will be tough at first, but you’ll thank yourself later.
My first year of law school, I was given great advice: “if you don’t understand something, try to bridge that gap as soon as possible.” Law professors are here to help you understand a subject on a deep level, and if you find yourself in the dark, don’t hesitate – go in and talk to them. There’s no shame in seeing a professor multiple times a semester. If anything, it shows that you are dedicated to ensuring that you understand the material. By addressing what you don’t know early and often, you can lay a foundation for understanding the rest of the course – which often builds off the concepts you didn’t understand in the first place.
As week five of law school starts, keep on truckin’.- Kanoa