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Make the Most of Your Law School Reading Week

Shot of a young female student studying at home
By Laura Temme, Esq. on October 05, 2022 3:38 PM

Fall semester classes are finally wrapping up, and you've got a week to get it together before final exams. But without the structure and regular schedule you're used to during the semester, how do you make the most of your fall break? For first-year students, this time in limbo can be both exciting and a little daunting.

Here are some do's and don'ts to have a productive and rejuvenating fall term reading week:

DO Edit Your Outline

First things first: Let's clean up that outline. Ideally, you'd have your outlines more or less complete by the last day of classes. But taking the time to go through and make them easy to read can make the rest of your reading period much more productive.

Remove redundancies and streamline sections that cover rules you already know so well you could recite them in your sleep. Let's face it, if you don't know the elements of a tort by now, we've got bigger problems.

DON'T Re-Read Everything

Put down the highlighter. If there's an important case you struggled to understand, go ahead and revisit it. But re-reading all the course material after classes end isn't an effective use of your time. Doing more practice questions will help you identify any concepts you need to review. Plus, the more you practice, the more likely you'll be able to finish your exam in the allotted time.

DO Mix Up Your Study Sessions

Staring at your Contracts outline for four hours straight isn't going to accomplish much. Instead, try reading through all of your outlines, then complete some short practice essay questions for each course. Changing topics every hour or so helps keep your brain alert so that you can make the most of your study time.

Take advantage of any study sessions offered by your professors - or get together with other students from your class and make your own! Talking through issues and getting input from your colleagues will help the concepts stick.

DON’T Treat Every Class the Same

Make sure to tailor your study for each course according to the type of exam your professor has chosen. Multiple choice exams aren’t all that common in law school, but some classes will use them. Your course syllabus should include information about the final exam, or your professor will announce it towards the end of the semester.

If your exam for Civil Procedure is an open book, multiple-choice test, there’s no need to memorize your whole outline and write out practice hypotheticals. (Although you’ll probably want to have the main rules memorized - the time flies by during an exam!)

DO Review Your Practice Exams

Be sure to take some time to review the answers you write for practice exams. Think about what issues you missed and what facts you should have paid more attention to.

DON'T Burn Yourself Out

Reading week is primarily for studying, but that doesn't mean you have to spend every minute hitting the books. Catch up with friends, cook a good meal, or take a long walk. All the studying in the world won't help you if you walk into finals burnt out. If it helps, make a schedule for yourself where you stop studying at the same time every evening. Give yourself time to eat, shower, and sleep. If you plan things out right, you might even be able to study Monday-Friday and have your weekend free.

Most of all, remember that you've got this. You've already gotten into law school and survived your first semester. You have what it takes to get through your first exam period.

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