I have been wondering what the term “studying” means in law school. I understand that studying comes in all different places, forms, and sizes. Studying doesn’t always have to mean that you are hardcore memorizing. Studying doesn’t have to be just studying for longer periods of times. Studying doesn’t JUST have to take place in the library. A reasonable person might say I don’t “study.” What does that mean? Studying means different things to different people.
Here is what I believed to be studying.
“Studying” is Reading
Required readings are a form of studying. Within this comes case briefing. This is studying because you are engaged in learning where rules came from to further your knowledge on the topic. You are preparing for class discussion.
“Studying” is Reviewing Class Notes
Reviewing class notes is a form a studying. Here, you are revisiting old material covered in the previous classes. This is refreshing your memory on old topics. This is a good way to “memorize.” This is something so small but is beneficial. If you review old material before every class leading up to the final, then you might be able to say it in your sleep. This is not “hardcore” memorizing information. This is reviewing small pieces of information over time.
“Studying” is creating Flashcards
Creating flashcards is another form of studying. Like reviewing class notes, this is not an intense form of memorizing the information. I consider writing out the flashcards alone as studying. Why? Because there is a two-step process going on. First, you are looking at the information to write down. Second, you are writing down the information. If you see something enough, it will get stuck in your head. If you write something down enough, it also gets stuck in your head.
“Studying” is Meeting with Professors
I personally enjoy meeting with my professors. I am able to get to know them better while also being able to utilize them towards my academics. When I go to see my professors, I make sure that they are not reteaching me the whole class. Additionally, I ensure that I have a list of specific questions I would like to discuss rather than in general. Before meeting with the professor, I watch Barbri videos to get a better understanding of the subject, create an outline, and create a small list of questions that I am still confused on after I exhausted my other resources. Some professors have specified office hours while others require you to schedule an appoint. Look at your syllabi to see what your professor(s) prefer.
“Studying” is Watching Barbri Videos/YouTube Videos
I absolute LOVE watching Barbri videos. I routinely watched Barbri videos so often that I forget that it is actually an additional source of information. I forget that it is not required. However, I utilized Babri Videos during 1L. Like they say “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.” This has only enhanced my knowledge and understanding of the subjects.
“Studying” is Creating an Outline
I am not even going to sugar code it, I suck at making outlines. However, I love that someone told me to make three types of outlines: Big outline, skinny outline, and an attack outline. A big outline includes all your class notes, case brief, etc. A skinny outline refers to only the relevant rules needed for the exam. Lastly, an attack outline is a page consisting of few words that address what you should talk about if a question about XYZ comes up.
“Studying” is Looking over Barbri Outlines/Commercial Outlines
The best notes and outlines are your own. However, it doesn’t have to be your ONLY source. I will look to commercial outlines or Barbri outlines as a SUPPLEMENT. A Supplement is not a REPLACEMENT. These are materials to supplement the knowledge you already have. Not to create knowledge. Think about jurisdiction for a second. This stuff I would consider “merely persuasive” in regards to YOUR CLASS because it is not in your hypnotically law school jurisdiction. You should not use it to replace doing reading assignments or what the professor says. The best rule of thumb is that what the professor says governs. Use their terminology on the exam because they are the ones who are grading you.
“Studying” is Looking at other Classmates Outlines
I will say it again, the best notes and outlines are your own. However, it doesn’t have to be your ONLY source. Whenever I have conflicting notes with my classmates, I seek out the rulebook or the professor to clarify. I do not care if I am right or wrong. I only care about what the right information is so that I can be prepared for the final exam. Classmate outlines ARE IN THAT CLASS. You have exactly what your professor discussed which is different than a commercial outline. 2L/3L students also supply outlines for when they had that same professor. These are very beneficial.
“Studying” is attending Study Groups
Study Groups is also a form of studying. Some study groups meeting weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or only in the last few weeks leading up to the exam. There is no “right” way. You have to do what is in your best interest with time and if it is beneficial. If it is not beneficial, then leave. You do not HAVE to be in a study group in order to be successful in law school. I do enjoy getting my peers insight, though.
“Studying” is Creating Final Exam Binders
You can create final exam binders. This will include class notes, case briefs, professors comments, review session notes, study group notes, charts, outlines, etc. This will ultimately have your study materials in a single binder and you can flip through and read it anywhere.
“Studying is” Typing my Class Notes
I write out my notes. I go back and type them into a OneNote. This helps because I am able to synthesize my notes and get to look at what was said.
Lastly, you also do not HAVE to be in the library studying. I am probably in the minority opinion to say I study at home. My apartment has study tables with whiteboards and outdoor areas to study. I also study within my apartment. I study in the classroom building. There is no rule to say that you HAVE to study in the library to be successful. Study where you can focus and not be distracted. I personally cannot study in the library. However, studying in the library is “wrong.” You know yourself better than anyone else. You make the decision on where is best to study.
These are just a few ways of what studying means to me. You could be studying and not even realize it. I am big on saying “UTILIZE YOUR RESOURCES.” Whatever those resources might be. You never know what can help you understand the information. You want to make sure that you show up to the final thinking “there is nothing else that I could have done to prepare me for this final” and GIVE IT YOUR ALL.