How to Get All A’s in Law School by the #1 Law Student
If you are looking to get all A’s in law school, you should know that it is difficult but very possible. Here I will tell you how I did it. I got all A’s (three A-s) and 55% of my letter grades were A+’s. I was not the smartest person in my law school and I did not study 24/7. (I studied six days a week, which you can read more about here.)
Note that because the first year of law school is graded on a curve, very few students receive A’s. So, it is a bit of a different story than undergrad, where professors are not limited in how many A’s they can give.
The key to getting all A’s in law school is not to be the smartest. Nor is it to study 24 hours a day.
The truth is that people accepted to law school are among the top scorers in their colleges. And they do well on the LSAT or GRE. So, in general, these are smart, hard-working people. Being smart and hard-working is not enough. Instead, you have to study smart. THIS is what will set you apart.
How do you study smart? Focus on the final exam from the beginning of the semester. We detail everything you need to do to get all A’s in law school in this (free) guide (that is, the exact strategy that worked for me). But here we focus specifically on what you need to do to set yourself apart from the “B” law students.
So how do you get all A’s in law school? How do you set yourself apart from the rest of your smart, hardworking class?
How to Get All A’s in Law School
1. Memorize the law, even if you have an open-book exam
Some students approach an open-book exam totally differently than a closed-book exam. They don’t worry about memorizing the law if the exam is open-book. They focus instead on getting good outlines from their classmates and tabbing their outlines and class notes.
If you want to get all A’s in law school, you should prepare for an open-book law school exam in a very similar way that you would a closed-book law school exam. In other words, you should make your own outline, memorize it, and plan on not consulting it at all during the final exam. If you want an “A” on your final exam, you won’t have time to consult it! (You should still organize/tab your outline, just in case. But don’t depend on it!)
Law students also have a false sense of confidence when an open-book exam is involved. But the truth is, these are often more difficult. Why? If the exam is open-book, your professor will not be as impressed by rule statements. Instead, you will have to impress your professor with a stellar analysis (and, of course, spotting all the issues).
You may tweak your studying a little bit if you have an open-book exam (versus a closed-book exam) but in general, nothing major should change. It should not make much of a difference in your day-to-day routine.
2. Make your own outline (and start early)
Many law students download outlines from outline banks or use outlines that their friends give them. It is fine to consult other outlines and can, in fact, be useful. But what separates the “A” students from the “B” students is that “A” students create their own outlines.
It is the process of writing, organizing, deleting, and adding to your law school outlines that helps you synthesize and internalize the information. This higher level of comprehension is what separates the “A” students from the rest! Check out our in-depth guide to creating a law school outline here.
This is the tip that will truly earn you an A – or an A+ — on a law school exam. It makes a huge difference!
It is the number one thing you can do to maximize your chances of getting an A. If you do not practice exams then you will be in a much worse position than your classmates that do practice exams and they will have the advantage in getting the few A’s available. (The truth is many students do not practice exams. But why leave anything up to chance!)
Practice several law school exams ahead of the actual exam day. We recommend you spend a weekend day at the beginning of the semester collecting as many exams with sample answers that you can. Start with getting all the exams your professor offers then move to other sources. Once you have these practice exams available, it will be easier to continue practicing! Read our in-depth guide to answering and practicing law school exam questions here.
4. Avoid low-yield, time-consuming study habits
There are some law school study habits that are VERY popular and VERY ineffective when it comes to boosting your chances of getting an A on your law school final exams. These include:
- Reading cases
- Briefing cases
- Preparing to be on call
- Joining study groups (unless you have the rare effective study group)
Of course, you have to read cases in law school. And, of course, you have to prepare for class and prepare to be on call. But if you are not careful, these activities will suck up all of your time. (We tell you how to spend an appropriate amount of time on these activities in this guide.)
5. Be okay with being different
Getting all A’s in law school will make you different from your classmates. You are not the average student. This means you have to be okay with being different. Sounds easy but it is often easier said than done. Especially in law school where so many students experience high anxiety and doing anything different makes them nervous.
That means you may see your classmates spending their time ineffectively. For example, when I was in law school, there was a group of really smart people that would spend hours a day reading every word of their casebook, then briefing their cases, then meeting in a study group to talk about the cases. (Honestly, all of this is not a very effective use of time if your goal is to get all A’s. See point #4!) This could easily make others nervous. Particularly if you are not spending your time that way. It is easy to ask: should I be spending five hours a day reading cases? Should brief every case? Why am I not doing as well “on call” as they are?
Try not to get too wrapped up in the study strategies that others are using. If you are focusing on memorizing the law and applying it, you are on the right track. It worked for me. And it worked for countless students of ours.