Second Semester Success in Law School: 5 Keys to Improving - JD Advising
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Second Semester Success in Law School: 5 Keys to Improving

Many students ask us about second semester success in law school.. If you are unhappy with your first semester grades, you may be wondering how to bolster your second-semester success! Here, we give you five keys to improving your second semester of law school. They are tips that have helped our private law students succeed and raise their grades significantly!

1. Honestly evaluate your first semester.

What went well and what didn’t?

Review your grades and, if possible, review your final exams. (Some students find it very helpful to meet with professors to see what they could have improved.)

You can also ask yourself what was effective and what wasn’t. For example:

  • If you spent a lot of time briefing cases, you probably found this didn’t help you when you sat down to study for the final exam
  • Maybe you need to study more (or at different times/in different locations)
  • Maybe you need to eliminate distractions (i.e., instead of typing class notes — where you have the entire internet to distract you! — maybe try handwriting them)

Also consider what went well. For example:

  • Maybe you wake up early and that is working out great
  • Maybe you have a wonderful study group
  • Maybe your exercise routine is helping you focus when you study

By taking some time to reflect on this, you may immediately have some ideas on what should change and what should stay the same!

2. Use resources available at your law school.

You may not have utilized all of the resources available to you your first semester of law school. It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day things to do! Some resources include:

  • your academic success person (they can go over specific tips for you to personally improve)
  • professors your 1L year (they can meet with you about your final exams)
  • your career services person (they may have ideas on ways you can bolster your resume outside of just grades!)
  • teaching assistants or study groups
  • counselors (they may help you with your personal or career goals)
  • librarians (if you struggle with research, they can be a great resource)

You should also look for the following:

  • outline bank for specific professors at your law school — outlines other students made can help you follow along in class (though we always recommend you make your own outline)
  • past exams for specific professors you are currently taking at your law school (read our in-depth guide on how to take law school exams here!)

3. Evaluate your study habits as a whole 

We recommend that students do the following to succeed in law school:

  • outline from day one of law school
  • begin memorizing outlines right away
  • take practice exams consistently

This is the technique we teach our law students to use — and many of them end up getting great grades, transferring law schools, or getting top jobs! It is a time tested technique.

If you are looking for more tips on how to make a law school outline, see this in-depth guide to making a law school outline.

For more ideas on how to learn your outlines, check out this post on 7 ways to learn law school outlines.

For an in-depth guide on how to answer exam questions, see this post.

4. What is said in class = what is tested on the exam

 One of our top tips for law students is to pay attention to what is said in class. This means that the most important time to be super focused is in class. 

  • Take diligent notes on what your professor says.
  • Eliminate distractions — turn off your wifi if you type on your computer! Or forego typing altogether

99.9% of the exams we see are focused virtually solely on what is said in class.

This means your class notes are a hundred times more important than your case book, commercial briefs, or commercial outlines. You can use those all as resources, but your class notes should be your #1 focus when you make your outline and learn your outline.

Maybe you didn’t get this your first semester, but make sure to keep it in mind your second semester. It is key to second semester success in law school!

5. Start afresh!

Get new notebooks, new binders. Clean off your desk. Decluttering your physical space can help declutter your mind and emphasize your new, fresh approach to the second semester of law school!

Many students find that starting afresh is key to successfully implementing a new approach for second semester success in law school!

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