Do new law students need a law school prep course to excel their 1L year? The qualified answer is no. There are many students who have excelled in law school without doing any prep beforehand. However, a good, well-structured law school prep course can be a launching pad that helps get students started quickly. Here’s how!
Why Might A 1L Need A Law School Prep Course?
1. To help make the transition from undergraduate to law school easier.
The transition from undergraduate to law school can be a very difficult one. Law school requires the development of a whole new set of skills. A good prep course will outline the major differences between undergraduate and law school. It will also expose you to things like useful legal vocabulary so you are not hearing it for the first time in class. It also teaches valuable skills, like how to answer a question when you are “on call,” how to do legal research, and how/when to brief a case. More importantly, it teaches you outlining and exam-taking skills (as we mention below!) Learning these skills before starting classes will give you a leg up in your 1L year.
2. To develop invaluable note-taking/outlining skills before classes start.
Efficient note-taking and outlining are a necessity in law school. A good law school prep course can teach you how to effectively take notes before you start law classes. It can also help you learn how to efficiently distill your class notes into useful outlines. You can avoid having to develop an outlining strategy on the fly by practicing outlining before you even attend classes. Even more importantly, you will not have any excuses to put off outlining–you will know to start right away. And you will know exactly how to start!
A law school prep course can be invaluable in this respect. Rather than wasting time trying to develop your own system, you can work in conjunction with a someone who has been there and done it to make sure you are getting the most out of your class notes and outlines.
3. To teach you how to answer exam questions and how to practice them throughout the semester.
One of the hardest things about law school is that you only have one final exam at the end of each semester for each class. That exam typically determines 100% of your final grade for each class. And these grades determine everything from your ability to be on law review, your ability to get a good internship, clerkship, or job, and your ability to write on law review. A good law school prep course can help you learn how to excel on a final exam!
In our law school prep course, we teach strategies to excel on final exams. Students are expected to complete two exam questions during the course. We also teach students how to practice final exams to keep this skill sharp and developed throughout the semester.
4. To help you set up a study schedule.
A law school prep course can also teach you how to set up a study schedule. A study schedule is an invaluable tool to make sure you adequately cover all your class material. A law school prep course can help you set expectations of how much studying you will need to do. It can also teach you how to efficiently set up a schedule that allows you to both study and have a family/social life. Knowing your class and studying time commitments before you even start classes can take away a lot of guesswork and allow you to hit the ground running. A good study schedule will also allow you to proactively review class material over a semester, preparing you more fully for final exams.
Ultimately, a good law school prep course will instill confidence in students. By exposing them to many of the more difficult adjustments they will have to make before school even starts, a course will give them the skills to deal with those adjustments moving forward. So while some students might not need a law school prep course, it can be a valuable tool to help students get off to a flying start!
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