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How much more exam studying are you doing compared to undergrad?

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4 hours ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

I know this is silly semantics but it sounds like you studied a lot, then. It just wasn't in the form of pre-exam prep/cramming. 

Most law students never read the cases before class, let alone make "high level notes". 

High level notes = not detailed. Much like a high level summary doesn’t delve into the unnecessary detail because it’s high level.

It’s not my problem law students don’t do the readings, fail to understand the material, then panic come exam time.

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6 minutes ago, FingersCr0ssed said:

High level notes = not detailed. Much like a high level summary doesn’t delve into the unnecessary detail because it’s high level.

It’s not my problem law students don’t do the readings, fail to understand the material, then panic come exam time.

Not my point. 

It's good that you were organized but it just doesn't sound like you were studying less than other people... you were studying earlier and in a more deliberate way. That's good but it's still studying, lol.

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30 minutes ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

Not my point. 

It's good that you were organized but it just doesn't sound like you were studying less than other people... you were studying earlier and in a more deliberate way. That's good but it's still studying, lol.

Doing mandated work isn’t studying in my opinion. You’re not “studying” the materials. You’re reading them, noting them, and then later “studying”.

The fact that omitting to do the foregoing then encompassing all work required before your exams as “studying” is misleading because in reality you’re just catching up on work you failed to do.

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25 minutes ago, FingersCr0ssed said:

Doing mandated work isn’t studying in my opinion. You’re not “studying” the materials. You’re reading them, noting them, and then later “studying”.

The fact that omitting to do the foregoing then encompassing all work required before your exams as “studying” is misleading because in reality you’re just catching up on work you failed to do.

Look, it's silly semantics as I've already said but you're super wrong about this. I'll log off now. 

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In 1L, I studied like I did in undergrad. I would read over summaries, almost as if I was trying to memorize them (because in undergrad being able to recall information was much more useful), but I wasn’t necessarily improving my grasp of the material. This was reflected in my 1L midterm grades.

Unfortunately, because of the P/F nature of the end of the year, I ultimately studied relatively little for my finals. I didn’t go through my entire summary for each class, instead I tried to familiarize myself with key legal tests, issue spotting from previous exams, and a better idea of the exam process. While I don’t know how my final grades turned out, I was mentioned in an end of term email to the class as one of the stronger exams, and that class was NOT a great midterm for me, so I can only assume that meant I did something right the second time around

As a result, though, these 2L exams are still a bit of a mystery to me. Outside of that one 1L class, I don’t know if my performance really improved. I definitely feel like I have a better grasp of the materials this time around though, so here’s my advice:

1) Get a good summary. Some people swear by making their own, but personally I don’t have the organizational skills or the patience. If you get someone else’s summary, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s for the same prof. I also like to search for case names and lecture topics to see what is/is not covered in the summary. The last thing you want on an exam is to find out your summary is missing some 2019/2020 case that is now THE case to know. 
2) Once you have your summary, read through it. Take it slow, and actually read, don’t skim it! See what does/doesn’t make sense. Highlight topic areas or cases you don’t quite understand. If there’s a test you don’t know how to apply, highlight that too.

3) Once you’ve “marked up” your summary, then go through the highlighted areas and try to improve your understanding. Re-read the cases or re-watch the lecture, if that’s an option. 
4) At this point, ideally, you’re familiar with what’s in the summary, and you know what you do and don’t know (and, hopefully, you’ve resolved most of what you don’t know). This is the time to go through a practice exam and see how well your summary works. Are you able to spot the issue in the exam, find the relevant area of your summary, apply the law, and reach a conclusion? 
5) From there, it’s a matter of tweaking the summary to make it quick to find things, and organized in a way that works for you. You’ll know after writing a practice exam if the way you’ve organized the summary works or not. If you find yourself cursing because you can’t find the legal test you know you need, then the organization of the summary needs some work. This may be less of an issue if your exam is remote and your exam software will be “unsecured”, allowing you to use Word files that can be searched, or you can click on a functioning table of contents.

It’s worth pointing out that this is just what seems to work for me. I have studied much less than I did this time last year, but I feel much better, because I know where things are in my summary and when to use them.
If you’re a 1L and this has freaked you out because what I’ve described is not what you’ve been doing, pause. You know yourself better than I do, so do what works for you and come back to this next semester if your initial approach doesn’t work out — but it very well may, because you know what works for you. After all, you got this far!

 

One final thought: keep your exam weight in mind. Most of my exams last year were 30% first semester and 70% second semester, if not weighed even heavier to second semester. This doesn’t mean start spiking your eggnog early, but it does mean that this is a learning experience. If you get a C, it happens. Now you know that a change has to be made. Better to find out now than later when the exam is worth twice as much! 
 

Work hard, don’t panic, you will be fine.

Edited by TobyFlenderson
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Do people who do well usually make some sort of map or very short summary? Currently mine are very long (at least 50 pages for each course, even after removing a lot of things), I guess they won't be that helpful during the exams? 

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32 minutes ago, SweetPotato said:

Do people who do well usually make some sort of map or very short summary? Currently mine are very long (at least 50 pages for each course, even after removing a lot of things), I guess they won't be that helpful during the exams? 

Lots of people make a short summary that just has the most important information (legal tests from the leading cases, analytic frameworks, etc). That way you have a shorter document you can flip through quickly in the exam and can bring your long summary in too as backup if needed. I typically aim for a short summary to be under a dozen pages, but lots of people get them down to even less.

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28 minutes ago, lewcifer said:

Lots of people make a short summary that just has the most important information (legal tests from the leading cases, analytic frameworks, etc). That way you have a shorter document you can flip through quickly in the exam and can bring your long summary in too as backup if needed. I typically aim for a short summary to be under a dozen pages, but lots of people get them down to even less.

That makes sense. I'm very bad at keeping things short. But I definitely need something more navigable! I've heard people say having a long outline with a good table of contents is fine but I will err on the side of caution. 

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21 minutes ago, SweetPotato said:

That makes sense. I'm very bad at keeping things short. But I definitely need something more navigable! I've heard people say having a long outline with a good table of contents is fine but I will err on the side of caution. 

Sure, it comes down to preference. I'm bad at keeping things short too, but I find that having to synthesize everything helps me go through the material more closely and understand exactly what I'm moving to the short summary and why. For the long summary I always have a table of contents and I tab the pages with things I want to be able to find quickly, like a legal test or a significant case or just broader topics so I can flip to them if needed. That way you don't even have to go through the table of contents to find something.

I also wouldn't necessarily create a short summary if you happen to be able to keep documents open on your computer while taking the exam, since then you can just Ctrl+F to find anything you need, but it could still be a helpful exercise.

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2 hours ago, SweetPotato said:

Do people who do well usually make some sort of map or very short summary? Currently mine are very long (at least 50 pages for each course, even after removing a lot of things), I guess they won't be that helpful during the exams? 

50 pages for 1L classes? Might I ask what you included? I thought I had some fat to trim on mine but they’re ~15. 

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6 minutes ago, PlatoandSocrates said:

50 pages for 1L classes? Might I ask what you included? I thought I had some fat to trim on mine but they’re ~15. 

mine are 80+ ..... included case summaries, class notes, reading notes 

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20 minutes ago, zxcvbnm said:

mine are 80+ ..... included case summaries, class notes, reading notes 

Ah okay. I believe I misunderstood. I thought they were talking about just synthesized CANs. I’ve been taking notes by hand all semester and I’m sure I have in that range there. (If I can even decipher that illegible nonsense). 

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8 hours ago, lewcifer said:

Sure, it comes down to preference. I'm bad at keeping things short too, but I find that having to synthesize everything helps me go through the material more closely and understand exactly what I'm moving to the short summary and why. For the long summary I always have a table of contents and I tab the pages with things I want to be able to find quickly, like a legal test or a significant case or just broader topics so I can flip to them if needed. That way you don't even have to go through the table of contents to find something.

I also wouldn't necessarily create a short summary if you happen to be able to keep documents open on your computer while taking the exam, since then you can just Ctrl+F to find anything you need, but it could still be a helpful exercise.

The first draft I do of anything tends to be very long and then I slowly whittle it down. I guess I'll just keep my long summaries as backup. I can see how making a short one or some sort of map can help one see the bigger picture of the course. 

I will be writing my exams at home, so I can just keep my documents open on my laptop. Writing practice exams will probably help me figure out what's most important (I really wish I started doing those earlier). 

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8 hours ago, PlatoandSocrates said:

50 pages for 1L classes? Might I ask what you included? I thought I had some fat to trim on mine but they’re ~15. 

Some of them were originally over 100 pages, and they weren't even my class notes. I had all the concepts that were taught, detailed case briefs (which I now realize were probably a waste of time), etc. 

Edited by SweetPotato
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I do my studying throughout the semester. I try to make and update my summaries week by week, after each module. During exam time, I began condensing my summary into a shorter summary and have started doing practice exams. Ideally, though, I would have liked to have started doing practice exams earlier in the semester, but my prof didn't have any exams uploaded and I couldn't find any. 

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17 hours ago, capitalttruth said:

I do my studying throughout the semester. I try to make and update my summaries week by week, after each module. During exam time, I began condensing my summary into a shorter summary and have started doing practice exams. Ideally, though, I would have liked to have started doing practice exams earlier in the semester, but my prof didn't have any exams uploaded and I couldn't find any. 

Did you start this method in 1L? 

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6 hours ago, zxcvbnm said:

Did you start this method in 1L? 

Yeah I just started it this year. The only exam I have this semester is Crim (rest are take home written assignments) so I don't know if this method will work. I'll let you know.

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I made outlines last month that were 35-55 pages depending on the length of the casebook. Now I'm in the process of mapping, hoping the maps will hit the 10-15 page mark. Who knows if it'll work. I outlined with friends, but I'm mapping by myself to force myself to carefully review all of the course material.

It's definitely more studying than my undergrad, but that is partially because the essay-based exams of my undergrad didn't require you to have a working knowledge of all the course material; In undergrad I would typically pick a few readings to commit to memory/understand, and I reviewed all the others only on a surface level. Then I would just make sure to work in the readings I memorized into my essay-based exams. Obviously, this method does not work for law school. If I miss a reading, I might miss a key rule or legal principle so I'm actually reviewing all the readings carefully which is time-consuming. There is much less memorizing though, which is nice!

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I attended probably 30% of classes in undergrad, and so far have made 100% of my classes in 1L.  So in that regard, I'm "studying" way more.  However, as for reviewing material, not any more than undergrad.   I decided to not take notes (once I realized how good the summaries I had were)  and focused solely on paying attention in class.  It feels like its working very well as I review and cases come back so easily.  We will see once marks are back though!

I should note that I thoroughly went through the summaries to make sure content and cases lined up.   Rewrote some briefs and what not.  

Edited by brandydafinegurl
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