LAWTUTORS ULTIMATE GUIDE ON HOW EXACTLY TO GET GOOD GRADES DURING YOUR FIRST YEAR OF LAW SCHOOL
DATA FROM HUNDREDS OF OUR LAW STUDENTS: PART I
By Professors Brittany Raposa, Hemanth Gundavaram, and Heather Kenny, Attorney Instructor Sheri Mason, and CEO of LawTutors Tania Shah
What do we know? Our LawTutors Team, still decidedly relatable and hip, have not been 1Ls for a long time. We heard you. You want the real stuff from the people who are in it right now. So, the LawTutors Team gathered data from hundreds of first year law students who had just completed their first semester of their first year of law school and had received their grades to put together this Ultimate Guide/
The purpose of article is to share with you the feedback we received from all of these students on what worked for them (and what did not work for them).
CLASS PREPARATION AND CLASS TIME
“I spent so much time trying to understand the law before class, and I was misunderstanding it. Then finally, in class, I learned about what I read.”
For the most part, the above quote summarizes what a lot of our 1Ls felt. Those students who performed well felt they balanced preparation with reviewing / condensing / outlining. Some of our students decided they would stop briefing cases while others decided you would start doing it.
Without a doubt, condensing, outlining and reviewing was a significant indicator on performance. However that still leaves the question of preparation. With the last semester behind us, we know how to prepare more efficiently through briefs/notes. Most of our students felt that while they would still prepare for class with some combination of briefing and note taking, they would do so mindfully by using resources like LawtTutors, Study Buddies Pro and Casebriefs, hypotheticals, and Examples and Explanations for guidance and efficiency.
Most importantly, students should use actual class time to guide how they prepare. Here are some considerations to help you determine how best to prepare for class:
• If your professor asks you verbatim questions from your brief, you may consider briefing for the class (or using a commercial brief and writing your own reading notes on top of the brief)
• If your professor skips cases entirely and talk about examples instead, then you may not need to spend significant time briefing cases
• Use your specific class as your preparation litmus test. For some classes, briefing prior to your class may make more sense than in others.
Some of our students also indicated that writing everything that was said in class wasn’t helpful and that they were going to listen in class and write less. Remember that this avenue requires condensing notes regularly and then reviewing the section in the course and making sure you understand it before moving on so that you can better identify the key points to take notes on. It’s a scary prospect to not take class notes and then try to figure out everything at the end without any notes.
Our top students condensed their notes along the way.
Here are some tips to help you incorporate condensing your notes based on students who performed well:
• Organize the time you spend condensing notes either:
o (i) when you find a logical end to a sub-topic, or
o (ii) by picking a particular day or time to condense each subject.
• You should aim to condense your notes on a weekly basis the most successful students seemed to be able to condense their notes at the end of each week, usually on the weekend).
• Condensing your notes gives you more time to engage in practice questions and to feel more comfortable with the material.
Stay Tuned for Part II