How to Manage Your Learning
The following tips can help you manage your learning skills:
- Appreciate your learning preferences; adapt your study environment to your preferences.
- Appreciate the target of your learning: legal rule structures that are derived from legal concepts; know both the structures and their underlying concepts.
- Use the headings and subheadings in the casebook table of contents or course syllabus as a note-taking template for pre-class, during class, and post-class notes.
- Before you begin studying a topic, review what you already know about the topic.
- If the topic you are studying is foreign to you, consider pre-reading on the topic in secondary sources such as Examples and Explanations or Gilbert Law Summaries before reading about the topic in the case book.
- See the notes listed below under Building Reading Comprehension for suggestions on how to actively engage in the material you are reading.
- During class, listen attentively. Avoid trying to transcribe every word; participate in the discussion.
- During class, take notes on the following:
- Review points the professor makes from preceding classes.
- Summary points the professor makes at the end of class.
- Hypotheticals or other questions the professor poses during class.
- Try to get a sense of how the professor defines the legal concepts and rule structures at issue.
- Edit your case brief to reflect an accurate understanding of the case, its holding, and its significance.
- Review your pre-class and during class notes within 24 hours of class; identify 2-3 main ideas from the class experience.
- Review your notes on a weekly basis, synthesize material within topics. Synthesis should result in rule structures and/or concept development for each topic you study.
- As you complete the study of a topic, synthesize your pre-class, during class, and post-class notes into a workable outline.
- Outlines have many forms, including charts, graphs, tables, flowcharts or time lines, as well as the traditional numerically developed outline; use an outline form that best captures what you need to know from the information.
- Consider creating flashcards for concept or case retention.
- After you have outlined a topic, check your understanding with practice questions (essay and multiple choice).
- Utilize a study group to check your understanding and progress with material.
- Meet with your professors regularly to address questions.
- If possible, get written feedback on at least one essay response from each professor administering an essay exam; revise the response until it is of highest quality.
- If you are an auditory learner, consider using audio-based bar review materials.
- If you are a verbal kinesthetic learner, work with other students to voice what you have just learned.
Learning Style Inventories
Research into learning theories has revealed that each of us has different learning preferences. Some students prefer to learn new material through reading, while others prefer to listen to a speaker, or learn best through pictures or graphical representations of material. Law school requires you to learn an incredible amount of new material and understanding your preferences can help you.
There are several learning style inventories available; most take about 20-30 minutes to complete and provide you with a set of suggestions tailored to your individual learning preferences. Links:
» Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire
» VARK: A Guide to Learning Styles