By Sam Farkas,
BARBRI Curriculum Architect and Instructor
As a 1L, you are no doubt feeling the pressure as your first semester final exams loom near. Most first-year students have already signed up for the BARBRI 1L Mastery package (if you haven’t, you can do so now). It’s a rich study supplement, so let’s break down the “Top 5 Hacks” – in other words, proven strategies – for how to use 1L Mastery most effectively during your pre-exam study period.
[Hack #1] Soak in the substance, skills
First, be sure to watch the substantive lectures for a complete subject review. These lectures review the black letter law in a concise, easy-to-understand way. You can watch online or download the BARBRI App (free on iTunes / free on Google Play) and stream or download to watch on-the-go. These lectures will also help you gain a stronger understanding of the rules most likely to be tested.
Then be sure to watch the separate Exam Skills lecture for each subject. Our 1L Mastery professors have a lot of experience creating and grading exams for their subjects. They’ll walk you through what you’re likely to encounter on a final exam, including particular rules or issues that first-year professors like testing. They’ll also share subject-specific tips and strategies, especially common missteps and mistakes that many 1L students make.
[Hack #2] Study backwards
During your reading/study period, begin studying for your last exam first and work backwards based on the exam date. Let’s say your first exam is Contracts, the second is Torts, the third is Civil Procedure and fourth is Criminal Law. Study Criminal Law first. Then go to Civil Procedure, Torts and end with Contracts. This way, Contracts will be the freshest as you head into that exam. After your first exam, you’ll just need to do a final review of each remaining subject prior to taking the exam. It’s an efficient study strategy to make sure you effectively review each subject during your reading/study period.
Now with that in mind, you’ll also want to wisely allocate your study time. As you know, not all subjects are created equal so to speak. Four credit courses count more than three credit courses in your GPA, so focus your time accordingly and devote more study time to higher credit courses.
[Hack #3] Write to be sure you’re right
Many 1L students mistakenly believe they are practicing essay questions by simply reading the fact pattern and mentally issue-spotting the problem. They turn to the model answer and affirm to themselves that they would’ve identified all the issues and discussed the appropriate law. Don’t do this, even if you want to save time or study a little faster.
You really need to write out an answer, or at least outline your answer to any practice essays you work. Then, compare your answer to the model answer. Make sure to do a thorough self-analysis. Evaluate whether you identified the correct issues, recalled the correct rules to resolve the issue, and identified the facts that you would have incorporated into your analysis.
[Hack #4] Make use of practice questions
Even if you only have essays on your final exam, consider working through 1L Mastery multiple-choice practice questions as well. Working multiple-choice practice questions can help you identify your own knowledge gaps and you’ll begin seeing a pattern of how rules may be tested in different fact patterns. You’ll get better at applying the rules to solve legal problems and you’ll benefit from reviewing the rules in the explanatory answers. You may even see the rules tested with similar facts on your final exam. In addition, you can work through multiple-choice questions more quickly than essays, which means you can cover more ground in a shorter amount of time.
[Hack #5] Condense and attack
Reading week is the time to start condensing your more detailed course outlines into shorter “attack outline.” The process of condensing it into a one- or two-page outline forces you to think about the subject from a 10,000-foot perspective. It’ll force you to review the rules and it will help you further encode those rules in your brain.
The attack outline will serve as a checklist of sorts for all the main topic areas in the course that you’ll want to consider when working through a final exam essay. If you have a closed book exam, keep studying that attack outline until you have it ingrained in you—until you can reproduce it from memory.
If you weren’t able to finish your outline or didn’t make one, study the BARBRI outlines in 1L Mastery and use them to make your own attack outlines.
Remember, you can always bookmark BARBRI.com, where you’ll find everything you need to know about developing your own outlines and other final exam prep advice and resources.
Now go forth and put these 1L Mastery hacks to good use.