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Don't Make These Rookie Mistakes


Midterms are fast approaching here at the law school, and the students are studying hard for the first exams of the semester.  Here at the law library, we wanted to share a few nuggets of wisdom with you all regarding studying, exam tips, and the lowdown on the best study aids.

First, keep in mind during your study sessions that your most productive study methods may differ from other members of your study group.  See our post here on how people learn.  You may learn best by drawing charts and graphs on the whiteboard while others may learn best by discussing the material.  All manners of learning are valid, so don't be afraid to find a different study group that suits your learning needs better.  Or stick with your buddies, and maybe you can all learn from each other.

Second, don't just memorize the material.  Do practice multiple choice questions (if applicable).  Work through practice essay questions.  Taking this step is vital to your understanding of the subject matter.  A law school exam (and the Bar Exam) does not simply consist of spitting back the rules you memorized.  The most important section (and the section worth the most points) is the ANALYSIS portion of an exam.  
This is the section where you take the rules you've learned and APPLY them to your provided set of facts.  Weave together the rules and the facts from your essay prompt to develop an answer that addresses all issues presented in a manner that provides both application and understanding.  You can look at old bar exam questions (see the Florida Board of Bar Examiners for their old essay questions, some of which may be irrelevant if they are heavy in Florida law while others may be very relevant if they focused on more general law).  In addition, many study aids have sample essay questions for you to answer.  The added bonus of using these essays (or the ones provided by the various State bars) is that they provide you with a sample answer as well so that you can check your work when you're finished.

Third, when you're practicing your questions and essays, try to keep within the time limit either suggested for each essay or that you know you'll be working with on your midterm/final.  Knowing all of the applicable information is a great step, but all of that knowledge is useless if you don't have enough time to apply it.  Furthermore, keep in mind that professors and bar examiners often include more issues than you can adequately address in the time allotted.  Hit the major issues first and then address minor issues.  If you're running out of time (i.e. five minutes left), start putting down issues and conclusions for anything you've missed.  You can pick up a few points that way rather than trying to complete full IRAC analysis for the remaining issues.

Fourth, create your own outlines.  You may think this is a waste of time since you can get a commercial outline or just use your buddy's old outline.  Don't cheat yourself out of this valuable aspect of studying.  Creating your own outline allows you to pull together the relevant information in a manner that YOU understand and can better process.  By all means, check your outline against other ones to make sure you're not missing any important information.  Please don't, however, just use those outlines in place of your own.  You're doing yourself a disservice.

Fifth, take advantage of the study aids available in the library.  We have material on all areas of law, covering all aspects of studying that particular subject matter.  Check out the Understanding Series, the applicable Nutshell, the Emmanuel Outlines, or the Acing Series for an in-depth, step-by-step analysis of a subject.  

These tools can prove invaluable if you're having difficulty understanding a particular area of law.  When you're ready to tackle some practice questions, check out the Examples & Explanations, the Glannon Guides, the CrunchTime Series, and the Questions & Answers.  These tools provide essays, multiple choice questions, and short answer questions on all areas of law.  The authors model their questions after the bar exam questions, and they also include explanations of why each answer is right or wrong as well as some explanation on the area of law itself.  

The law library has our newest study aids available behind the Circulation Desk while older material is available in the General Reading Room.  Finally, check out the Law in a Flash series of flashcards we own.  There are sets for each of the core subjects, and these cards can prove invaluable in your study as another tool to check whether you really know the area.

Inside Tip: All of the study aids published by LexisNexis (Q&A, Understanding series, and Nutshells) are available on our LexisNexis Digital Library for you to rent as well.  Take advantage here!

Please take advantage of the materials and resources we have available, including the librarians!  We are here to help YOU succeed!  Let us know if there is anything we can do to help - whether recommending a particular study aid or purchasing an item that you would find useful.  We look forward to seeing you soon, and we wish you luck with your impending exams!

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