Many 1Ls have been in classes for about two weeks now. If you are one of them, have you figured out your learning style yet? Do you have your studying method pinpointed? It is important to know how you learn because there is only one law exam per course which will likely determine your entire grade in that course. You do not have the opportunity to use trial-and-error and gauge which method is the best for you. Now is the time to figure out your learning style, and implement the best study strategies for you.
Auditory learners process information by listening. If you are this type of learner, you will tend to focus in class by listening during lectures, and by talking things out with a study group (or even to yourself). If you choose to form a study group, it should be done at the beginning of the semester rather than later. If you are auditory, you must accept that much of the law is written, including exams. You will need to bridge this gap, but how you do so is up to you. Among the tools are audio books, which you can listen to while working, driving, jogging, you name it. Don’t fight the non-auditory nature of some aspects of law school. Instead, use your skills and talents to excel in all areas.
Another learning style is visual. These learners learn best through reading, outlining, and drawing pictures, graphs, diagrams, whatever. If you are this type of learner, you might be better off working alone rather than joining a study group. In fact, study groups may frustrate a visual learner because the visual learner cannot see what is being described or discussed in the group. You will want to create, reorganize, and update your outline, and then create graphs that are helpful to getting the black letter law down, and then focus on practice exams.
The third type of learner is the kinesthetic learner (or hands-on learner). This type of learner excels when performing the task. Regrettably, there is little hands-on activity during law school. Therefore, this type of learner must figure out creative ways to understand the material. Flashcards and fun games might work, and it’s not a bad idea to get your hands active by actually creating some physical representation of property law, tort law, and so on. A study group can be beneficial because hypotheticals can be discussed—or find the right group and act them out!
Plan a realistic schedule, and stick to it. It is easy to let exam preparation fall to the wayside until the end of the semester, because you already have so much to read. Many, many students begin outlining and creating flashcards and organizing at the end of the semester. Absolutely not! If you do this, it won’t matter that you “finish” in time for the exam and have a marvelously compiled study aid. It won’t matter whether or not you memorize it. That’s not what law exams are about. You should complete your organization well before it is time to study for exams. So start now, and you’ll be off to a great start!
Until Next Wednesday,
Jenny L. Maxey
Author of Barrister on a Budget…Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank