What Should I Do Over my Law School Study Period? - JD Advising
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IMG_3150What Should I do over my Law School Study Period?

If you are overwhelmed thinking about your law school study period, you are not alone! Many students ask us what they should be doing to make the most of their law school study period.

We have plenty of tips – but we will start by giving you two simple  guidelines to help structure your law school study period: First, figure out your weekly schedule; and second, figure out your daily schedule. 

If you know what you want to accomplish each week and each day, you will be organized, methodical, and best set yourself up for success. You will also feel more confident if you have a good plan to get through all of the material and exams you need to get through.

We’ll tell you the ideal weekly and daily study schedule below:

Weekly Schedule for your Law School Study Period: 

We recommend you look at a monthly calendar for the month of your exams. Label when each exam is. Then figure out which topics you will study each day. It is a good idea to not study for more than one or two topics per day. Don’t try to look at topics for all four classes every day!

The day before an exam, only plan on studying for that exam. So if your Criminal Law exam is on Tuesday, all day Monday should only be spent on Criminal Law. (It will be hard to concentrate on anything else anyway!)

If you plan on looking at one or two topics each day, remember that you do not need to treat all subjects equally. Even if you have four classes you need to study for and eight full days to study, you don’t need to spend two days per subject. We recommend you spend a little bit more time on your weaker subjects. So, for example, if you feel really good about Torts and you can’t stand Contracts, allocate more days to studying for Contracts.

Daily Schedule for your Law School Study Period:

For your daily schedule, the most important thing is to focus on what matters — specifically, focus on:

  • (1) Finishing up your outlines (if you haven’t already) and memorizing your outlines; and
  • (2) Answering practice exam questions.

Outlining (and memorizing your outlines) and answering practice exam questions are really what will help you more than anything. Do not reread cases or brief cases or do anything else that won’t directly help you learn the law.  (See this free ebook for more information.)

An eight-hour daily schedule might look like this:

8:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Learn the law: Actively review and memorize your outline. (You can also write/tab your outline during this portion). “Actively” reviewing means you are quizzing yourself on your outline, making charts, diagrams, etc. You are not just passively reading your outline. Take breaks during this time period.

12:00 – 1:00 break

1:00 – 5:00 – Practice answering exam problems: Practice answering exam questions. If your exam is mostly multiple choice, focus on multiple-choice. If your exam is mostly composed of essays, focus on essays. If you can get ahold of your professor’s past exams and model answers, these will be your best resource. (Otherwise, try answering problems from supplements and googling, for example, “Torts exam model answer”.)

If you are planning on studying more at night, continue to review or work on exams. Or even start looking at material for a different class.

Some students find it more helpful to break up their day into two sets of two hours of reviewing/two hours of exams rather than doing four hours of each. This is especially the case if you are studying for two subjects a day – i.e. if you are studying for Contracts and Torts, you could do two hours of reviewing and two hours of exams for Contracts in the morning, then repeat the same for Torts in the afternoon.

How you structure your day will be personal to you.   Just make sure you spend a good amount of time learning the law and a good amount of time applying your knowledge to fact patterns.

A few other law school study period tips:

Don’t spend fourteen hours a day in the library. Your brain cannot effectively learn for fourteen hours a day and you will burn out. Take breaks and even change your scenery when you study occasionally!

Conquer your hardest subjects at your best time. If you are reviewing for Civil Procedure and Torts in the same day and you do not like Civil Procedure and you love Torts, study Civil Procedure at your best time. If you are a morning person, tackle it first thing in the morning — there is no reason to put it off until the end of the day when you are less likely to comprehend it.

Sleep. Exercise. Eat healthy. The last thing you want to do is sacrifice personal health over your law school study period. Taking care of yourself (sleeping seven or eight hours a night and eating healthy) will help you concentrate, comprehend the material, and it will keep you energized for the exam.