Tools for “Mastery” of Your 1L outlines

October means crunch time.

As you flip the calendar, take note of the time between now and finals week. In about six weeks, you’ll need to have reached your highest level of learning, memorization and organization. That’s not a simple task.

Enter the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package.

If you haven’t already, it time to begin your outlines. (So how do you go about outlining, you ask?) This is where 1L Mastery helps tremendously. Starting to outline is like writers block. You stare at a blank Word document for 20 minutes. Literally. When you sign up for 1L Mastery, however, you get instant access to ready-to-use first-year course outlines — great examples that show you how to organize your own materials and even fill in a few blanks (substantive gaps) you may have missed in class or from your readings. Writers block conquered.

 

And the practice questions.

1L Mastery also has multiple-choice black letter law practice questions for every 1L subject. You can gauge your understanding of a topic without setting aside hours to complete. It’s an ideal way to supplement the other types of learning and it can help identify areas where you may need to spend more time. Just finished “offer and acceptance” in Contracts? Take a few practice hypotheticals to help identify when a contract has been formed.

The more hypotheticals you practice, the better prepared you will be when the final exam comes. Those first semester grades are so critical. You need all the material you can to succeed and stand out among your peers. Having access to the plethora of exam questions in the 1L Mastery Package is one of its biggest advantages.

You’ve already completed a third of your first semester of law school. It’s zooming by. And things speed up even more. Feel comfortable knowing you have 1L Mastery outlines, practice questions (and video lectures) to back up your learning.

How can you stand out in your law school class? Be a “1L Master.”

Great 1L outlines: It’s about the process

It’s that one thing that looms around every corner of law school.

Maybe you did it some during undergrad, but never quite like this before. It is the bane of your law school existence, yet at the same time, the most crucial piece of exam preparation.

Outlines.

The first month of school consisted of scavenging the right 2L’s and 3L’s for the best outlines out there. Making sure to find those who did very well in your courses – and with your specific professors – is important.

But outlining is about more than just the end result. It’s about the process. Moving your class notes, supplements and handouts to a refined and organized study aid helps you put that critical information to memory. If you just grab from your peers or copy and paste from online sources, you won’t be putting that material in words familiar to you that truly help you understand the rules of law.

Another thing about the “process” … it’s a very long process. It’s time to start outlining (it’s mid-October already). Many schools will have a writing assignment due just before Thanksgiving Break that will require nearly all of your outside time and effort. It’s crucial to be up-to-date with your outlining as soon as (make that, BEFORE) you are given the assignment. This allows you to push aside your other classes, crush that writing memo, then get back to outlining in time to be finished before reading day.

That’s a lot of information. And potentially, a lot of additional stress. But that’s what it takes to get those 1L grades that matter so much.

#The3Llife: Six Steps for Spring Break Success

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

Spring break is generally thought of as being a much-needed break from the hectic law school schedule.

It’s a time to relax, maybe take a vacation, and enjoy not having class. While I do believe you should use your spring break to de-stress, I encourage you not to check out completely. There are a few things that you can do during spring break to make the end of the semester a bit easier.

Get going on those outlines

I know outlines are probably the last thing you want to think about over spring break, but trust me, you’ll be glad you did. Just taking a few hours to get organized and get started (or make some progress) will help you feel less stressed when exams come around.

Update your resume

Whether you’re a 3L looking for a post-grad job or a 1L/2L looking for a summer position, spring break is a great time to make sure your resume is up to date and ready to go when a job opens up. As the end of semester gets closer and you get busier this will be one less thing on your plate. If you’re feeling really ambitious, visit job boards and set some job alerts so you’ll get notified when new jobs are posted.

Get caught up

If you’re behind on reading or some assignments, this is the time to get back on track. You don’t want to wait until the end of the semester or you’ll end up cramming and feeling overwhelmed.

Make a plan

Take a look at what you have coming up in the next few weeks and what you’d like to accomplish before the end of the semester. Need to finish your note? Want to schedule a time to talk to career services? Have a big final paper that will be assigned soon? Make a note of these things and set aside some time in the coming weeks to work on them. By planning now, you won’t forget about something and have to rush to get it all done.

Take care of “housekeeping” tasks

No, I don’t mean laundry or cleaning, but you can certainly do that too! I’m talking about administrative things or necessities. Get your car serviced, go to the doctor, do your taxes. Those things may not be fun, but you’ll feel better once you can check them off your list.

3Ls, prep for graduation

By spring break, you’ve probably gotten emails about ordering your cap and gown, applying for a concentration, choosing the name for your diploma, etc. This is a great time to double check that these have been done. It’s also a good time to plug away at your bar application!

How will you be spending your spring break? Let me know! Tweet me at @The3LLife!

#The3Llife: Making An Effective Outline

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

Today is my last day of classes!

While I no longer have to sit in class, I can’t totally put the semester behind me yet. The next week is going to be full of outlining for all of my law school final exams, some open book and some closed.

Outlining can be a challenge and a lot of law students are tempted to make a “template” outline that they can fill in with class-specific material. While that sounds like a timesaver, it’s actually really detrimental. Every class is different, every exam focuses on different things, and therefore each outline should reflect those differences.

Think about how the professor organized the class.

You should have the most information in your outline about the topics that were discussed the most. Don’t get caught up trying to thoroughly analyze something your professor just mentioned in passing. If you’re unsure if you understand something enough, meet with a classmate or your professor and talk it through. You can also ask if your professor will review your outline. I’ve had several who are happy to take a look and make note of things that are missing or over-emphasized.

Aside from tailoring your outline to the structure of the class, also tailor it to the structure of the exam. Open-book exams require very different outlines from closed-book exams. For a closed-book exam an 80-page outline isn’t going to do you much good since it’s unlikely you can memorize that much info. Try to condense the rules, cases, and concepts as much as possible so they are easy to memorize. Depending on your learning style you may want to make flashcards or create mnemonic devices.

Since you’ll have your outline with you in an open book exam, it can be a little longer and more substantive. The key to using your outline effectively during the exam is organization. The answer may be in your outline, but that’s not helpful if you had to spend 20 minutes flipping through to find it. Organize your outline in a way that makes sense for you and then think of some other ways you can make it easy to search through. For a longer outline, you may want a skeleton outline or table of contents you can quickly skim. I’m a big fan of adding tabs that note the different rules and highlighting key cases or concepts.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you’re thoughtful about how you’re making your outlines and what will work best for you. It may seem like a lot of work–and it is–but the benefits of having a strong outline are well worth the trouble!

What are some of your tips for outlining? Share them with me on Twitter @The3LLife!

#The3Llife: 3 Things You Need to Do In November

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

I don’t know about you, but I feel like this semester has flown by.

I have only 4 short weeks until classes are over and finals begin. Yikes! I’m a horrible procrastinator and a serial over-committer, but in the interest of surviving finals with my sanity in tact, I’ve decided to try to keep myself under control this year. With that in mind, I’ve come up with 3 things that I’ll be doing this November (and I think you should do too!) to make finals a little less stressful.

Don’t put off outlines

This one is for all the procrastinators out there! I hear you—and I’m usually right there with you. But this semester I’m doing something differently. I sat down and looked at my calendar this morning. It was chock full of school events, family get-togethers, and dinners with friends. I know what this means. I’ll hang out with friends and family, do my homework, and crash on the couch watching Netflix. See something missing there? Yeah—exam prep! To ensure I’m not putting off my outlining until the last second, I dedicated a chunk of time in my calendar each Thursday afternoon just for plugging away at my outlines. Just taking a couple of hours a week to put them together is going to save me a lot of stress in a month, and will give me adequate time to ask my friends and professors questions.

Make lists (and use them)

I’m taking a lot of classes this semester and I have so many projects, short papers, and final exams that I can’t keep track of them all. My first step this November is to make a list of the due dates for all of my assignments, that way I don’t have to worry about a deadline slipping my mind. Once I have my overall list of assignments, I’m going to break it down into smaller lists of what needs to get done for each. Closed book exam? That means I’ll want to make flashcards. Final project? I’ll need to write down all the different parts I need to complete. When I finish something I can cross it off, making sure I know exactly what is done and what I still need to work on.

Take a Thanksgiving break

The last few weeks of the semester bring a lot of hard work and a lot of stress. While you don’t want to slack off, you also don’t want to head into finals feeling burnt out. Than Thanksgiving holiday is a good time to take a couple of days away from law school. Spend time with family, snag some great Black Friday deals, and do some Netflix binge-watching. After a couple of days off, you’ll feel a lot more relaxed, energized, and ready to take on finals!

#The2Llife: Best Way to Outline (IMHO)

GUEST BLOG by Harrison Thorne,
2L at UCLA School of Law

With the semester wrapping up, many students are beginning to outline, or refining past outlines.

The importance of outlining is probably clear at this point—a good outline will be useful during the exam (provided open note exams), and creating it will help reinforce concepts as well as show what you may not know or understand.

However, it can be tough to “know” how to create an outline. After a long semester, most students have reading notes (i.e., case briefs), class notes, and a handful of problems or handouts. How do you turn all these random pages into a workable outline?

My method, which I feel works effectively, is simple. I print out everything I have. I then obtain an outline from a former student in that class, and print it out. Next, I download BARBRI’s outline on the black-letter law. With all these resources in hand, I am ready to go.

AppleLaptopWhen using a BARBRI or former student’s outline, I primarily look for structure. Most classes teach things in a logical flow. However, it can be hard to understand how all the concepts fit together. For instance, in torts, you might learn about negligence per se, then move on to doctrine of chances, then next to but for cause. Seeing an already-existing outline will help you understand how these concepts and doctrines work together, and where they fit in. Using this refined flow will help you create an attack outline or a “steps of analysis” chart.

I like to create my headings and get the flow of the course by looking at the former student and BARBRI outlines. But then I fill in the blanks with my class and reading notes. If there is a concept I don’t fully understand, I reread, talk to my professor, or discuss with another student.

After I have my outline in working condition, I move on to practice problems or past exams.

 

#The2Llife: Missing the Forest for the Trees

GUEST BLOG By Harrison Thorne
2L at UCLA School of Law

Law school is very hard. There is more reading than you think possible, and nobody gives you concrete feedback.

During my first year, it was fairly common for me to oscillate between feeling that I had everything under control and freaking out. Ask my family. I would correctly recite case facts during a cold call and feel on top of the world. But then someone would make a comment that I hadn’t thought of, and life was over.

This pendulum drove me to work harder. I always wanted to be on top of the readings, and I never wanted to feel left out of class discussion.

However, it is very easy to miss the forest for the trees in law school. It is great to know every case’s holdings. But the facts and the specific parties to a case are almost completely irrelevant.

The point is to fit all the pieces together, and to synthesize rules that come from cases. The teachers do not care whether you can recite facts on an exam. Rather, they expect their students to analyze the facts given on the test—perhaps by comparing/contrasting the given facts to cases you’ve read.

I think this really sunk in after my first set of finals during 1L. Consequently, my studying techniques changed drastically. I no longer obsessively tried to figure out the procedural posture of cases, or who was the appellant vs. appellee. Rather, I tried to make all the cases fit together in such a way that I could create a framework to analyze new facts on a test.

I suppose this post is inspired by the fact that I just began my evidence and bankruptcy outlines this past weekend. Outlining is a big task. You have to take a ton of information and cases, and actively synthesize rules to figure out how various cases fit into a bigger picture. And that’s not easy—especially for bankruptcy!

Fotolia_62353810_Subscription_Monthly_MHowever, as always, work smarter, not harder. I recently obtained outlines from past years for each of my courses, and have used those to get a broad sense of my courses, and to help guide my own outline. I also use Barbri study guides, as they give a no-nonsense breakdown of black-letter law. Barbri outlines saved my life during criminal law . . .

So, if you are reading this as a 1L, the takeaway is that when reading a case, always think about the facts so that you’re prepared in case of a cold-call. But, more importantly, think about the bigger picture, and how you would apply this case to new facts on an exam.