Have you ever struggled studying for class? Or wanted tips on how to study more efficiently? We’ve all been there! Studying at law school really took some getting used to. I had to give different methods a try before I finally was able to efficiently study and get great results. One thing I always try to remember is that some courses are more difficult than others or we encounter topics we have never heard of before and suddenly need to have expect knowledge for class. It is okay to struggle with some courses and find that other courses are easier to handle. This happens to everyone and differs from person to person. But a good study tips and tricks will definitely help along the way. Here is how I study for my law school classes.
Studying for class
My study routine begins with reading the book to prepare for my next tutorial or lecture. When I read the book I usually highlight the important parts; so key words or topics which are important, in one colour, and use another colour for articles of the law or important case law. This makes them stand out more when it comes to making notes or finding an answer during class.
I always make notes on what I have read from the book. I try to do this while I’m reading the book and not after the fact because I found this works best for me to understand each part in depth. So I will normally go topic by topic and make notes on that part after I have read it. After this is done, you then have an overview of the topics in your notes so you don’t have to go through the book again and the book is nicely highlighted so if you need to look back it is easy to find.
This helps me to prepare easily for the questions in class as well. Having notes of it all is also handy for the exams so you’re not stuck making the exam notes at the end of the semester, which leaves you more time for practising and memorising for the exam. This is important to leave enough time before your exams because there will always be some courses which are more difficult and need more time to be reviewed and understood.
How I structure my notes
Structure is key for note taking. Personally I like to make sure the headings are clear for topics and sub-topics. If there are multiple subtopics you need to remember then list and number them under the main heading and if there are main topics I always list these as well. This makes it easier to remember.
I also find that bullet points or lists help me summarise using mainly key words and keeps me from writing long sentences. When I have terms or case law I always put them into a table or use flashcards to make it easier to remember, easier to find and easier to test myself for the exam. Once again if you compile this list as the course goes along you save a lot of time before the exam and can focus on learning the material.
I also make sure that in my notes I always have the article for the law and the names of case law relating to the topic. Therefore, you get a feel for what articles and case law relate to each topic and make it easier to memorise for the exam or to find during class.
Managing your time is very important for studying. Especially as a law student there are a lot of readings to get through every week. I always try to plan out my days. Knowing which days I am very busy and planning in days to rest. This helps me see what time I have to study, for example before or after class, and make sure I leave enough time to get my readings done. I always try to estimate how long a chapter will take me and split it up over a few days, if possible. Then I don’t have too little time to read it all or feel rushed to stay up late every night to finish it. I also try to plan out the weeks to come. When you have an exam coming up, you need to be able to plan out enough study time in between preparing for classes. Therefore, It is very important to plan.
A tip which helps me is to go out of the house to study, if you can, whether that be the university, the library or simply to meet a friend to study. This helps me to stay focused and get my work done. If i stay home there are often distractions.
If I stay home then I normally plan in breaks and/or plan in something to do after I am done studying to motivate myself. Please check out my tips on how to study from home for more information on this.
Ensuring you have enough time to study for the classes is so important because when there is a time constraint, you start to fall behind on reading the material. You also cannot fully participate in the tutorials and get a full understanding of how to apply the material. If you plan into each week, time allocated study slots, this will help you stay on track and helps make sure you have free time to relax as well.
I hope this will help anyone struggling through law school. Some courses are difficult and it’s okay to not understand everything straight away or even to fail. what’s important is to recognise there is more work to be done and to get right back up and try again.
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