Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

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mikeytwoshoes
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Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:16 am

I assume everyone is outlining again or will be soon. This thread is about outlining strategies. What kinds of tricks did you use and how did they work? I’m interested the way you organized information. I’m not really looking for macro level organization but the way you organize your pages to make specific information easier to find for reviewing and during exams.

I let the syllabi be my guide for the overall organization but I didn’t really worry about organizing individual pages. I also relied to heavily on former students outlines. It was a very bad plan, i.e. too passive. I remember someone had idea to use tables to divide the page. I just don’t remember what he put in the cells of the table. Anyone else remember this? I’m thinking it was EdCrane.

270910
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby 270910 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:24 am

The most important parts of your outline are rule statements, organization, and concision. The least important thing are facts of cases, I cringe whenever I see outlines with briefs in them.

Organizing your outline chronologically through the course is probably close to the optimal organization for exam taking, but also almost certainly not exactly the optimal organization for exam taking.

Your outline structure should be such that if you collapsed your major bullets, you'd have a perfect checklist to use on the exam.

solidsnake
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby solidsnake » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:09 am

I have a friend who can make some fucking masterful outlines. His advice, as far as formal structure goes: never have an a. without a b.; never have a 1. without a 2.. Bullet points should be avoided whenever possible; the text of which collapsed into the heading above. Plain text, italic, bold, and bolded italics are 4 styles that can be superimposed over the tiers to create different layers of highlight.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:12 am

I don't find lots of a/b/c I/II/III type hyper organization to be useful. I prefer to organize visually - bigger and smaller font-sizes for different kinds of information as well as underline, bold, etc.

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dbt
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby dbt » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:14 am

For me the outline itself isn't too critical. It's all about the process. Your final outline should be as condensed as possible and you should know the material in and out. For me, this meant starting out with a huge "outline," or what most people might just call notes, which included all my briefs, class notes, notes from outlines from previous years, and maybe some extra resources (like E&Es or really influential books in the field). Then I condense that at least once, maybe twice. By the end, I don't really need the outline (other than to jog my memory for classes like Torts where you're essentially doing a checklist approach).

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rayiner
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby rayiner » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:20 am

I do a ~50 page monster outline, condense to 10 pages, then condense to 3 page checklist. On the exams, I rarely referred to anything besides the checklist, but I found the process crucial.

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A'nold
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby A'nold » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:37 am

I was actually considering doing less outlining this semester and relying more on older outlines......maybe I'll rethink this as I go along.

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PDaddy
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby PDaddy » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:37 am

I just want to make sure I do it right. The best advice I seem to have received so far is to start outlining as early as possible. Apparently, there are students who learn this the hard way, every year, during their first 1L reading week or so. Thanks for the great thread OP, and the advice, posters!

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A'nold
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby A'nold » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:49 am

PDaddy wrote:I just want to make sure I do it right. The best advice I seem to have received so far is to start outlining as early as possible. Apparently, there are students who learn this the hard way, every year, during their first 1L reading week or so. Thanks for the great thread OP, and the advice, posters!


You know, I cursed myself for not outlining "early enough" last semester b/c I spent so much time on them towards the end (and I had at least half for every class done by Thanksgiving IIRC). However, after taking the exams, I think I was a little too concerned about my outlines. I might have been better off just memorizing less, better. I'm also going to work on actually understanding the material better this time around and be less focused on memorizing stuff that I thought would nab me a few "reach" points. After looking at my exams, I rarely got any points for reach arguments.

engineer
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby engineer » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:55 am

I'm a *very* visual learner; as such, I like to use flowcharts and checklists. When writing my brief, for example, I used a family-tree-style hierarchy for the "major" points, which pointed to sub-points, etc. This keeps everything on a single page and makes the best use of your page real estate, as it were. For me, traditional I-1-A-a outlining is boring, and for short points (like less than a line worth of text), you're wasting a good portion of the page. Moreover, this style lets me fit a lot of the course on one page--extremely helpful in an exam setting.

Renzo
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby Renzo » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:21 am

I didn't do it last semester, and I'm sticking with that strategy.

solidsnake
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby solidsnake » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:26 am

Renzo wrote:I didn't do it last semester, and I'm sticking with that strategy.


Didn't you end up medianpwned? Not that I'm saying correlation proves causation..

Renzo
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby Renzo » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:33 am

solidsnake wrote:
Renzo wrote:I didn't do it last semester, and I'm sticking with that strategy.


Didn't you end up medianpwned? Not that I'm saying correlation proves causation..

I did. Right exactly at the median. But it was for writing a stupid answer on my torts exam, not for lack of outlining. About 30 min after the test was done and submitted I had an "OH FUCK" moment and realized that one out of three of the questions was completely fucked. It turned out I was right.

This time, same amount of zero outlining, but much more careful answer planning.

solidsnake
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby solidsnake » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:44 am

Renzo wrote:


I did. Right exactly at the median. But it was for writing a stupid answer on my torts exam, not for lack of outlining. About 30 min after the test was done and submitted I had an "OH FUCK" moment and realized that one out of three of the questions was completely fucked. It turned out I was right.

This time, same amount of zero outlining, but much more careful answer planning.


Sorry to hear that broseph. i had similar "oh fuck" moments, but luckily, my fuckups were smaller than a good 90% of my competitors. Exam writing = minimizing fuck ups without regard to distributional concerns so long as ideally 95% of your competitors fuck up more than you do in the aggregate.

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steve_nash
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby steve_nash » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:20 am

.
Last edited by steve_nash on Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rando
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby rando » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:27 am

steve_nash wrote:
rayiner wrote:I do a ~50 page monster outline, condense to 10 pages, then condense to 3 page checklist. On the exams, I rarely referred to anything besides the checklist, but I found the process crucial.


This is a really good approach. My outlines always start off way too long. I don't always condense them, but I do bring checklists with me to the exam.

I don't think the finished approach to an outline matters too much as long as you did it yourself.


+1

the way you use bullets or numbering is not important. Just doing the outlines is a crucial process.

rando
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby rando » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:30 am

solidsnake wrote:
Renzo wrote:


I did. Right exactly at the median. But it was for writing a stupid answer on my torts exam, not for lack of outlining. About 30 min after the test was done and submitted I had an "OH FUCK" moment and realized that one out of three of the questions was completely fucked. It turned out I was right.

This time, same amount of zero outlining, but much more careful answer planning.


Sorry to hear that broseph. i had similar "oh fuck" moments, but luckily, my fuckups were smaller than a good 90% of my competitors. Exam writing = minimizing fuck ups without regard to distributional concerns so long as ideally 95% of your competitors fuck up more than you do in the aggregate.


I can't help but rehash exams in the weeks following exam period. I always think of mistakes I made. There have been multiple exams that I thought I absolutely bombed. I have been wrong every single time. I have this complex where I fail to realize the rest of the class screwed up more than I did.

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RVP11
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby RVP11 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:39 am

steve_nash wrote:
rayiner wrote:I do a ~50 page monster outline, condense to 10 pages, then condense to 3 page checklist. On the exams, I rarely referred to anything besides the checklist, but I found the process crucial.


This is a really good approach. My outlines always start off way too long. I don't always condense them, but I do bring checklists with me to the exam.

I don't think the finished approach to an outline matters too much as long as you did it yourself.


+1

The organization/concision/beauty of your outline means nothing if you've memorized the entire thing.

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nick637
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby nick637 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:05 am

As a 0L, how did you all learn to outline? Can you recommend any helpful books?

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Cavalier
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby Cavalier » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:10 am

When I started outlining last semester I spent way too much time formatting it because I wanted it to be easy to refer to during an exam. I obsessed over what to include and what to omit, how to order my bullet points, when to use bold, italics, etc. When I started taking practice exams, I realized that none of this matters. The outline is practically worthless on an exam; constantly having to refer to a 30 page document is a huge waste of time.

Like others here, I turned every outline in 3-5 pages of checklists, flowcharts, etc. I basically only referred to these during an exam. I read my outlines frequently, so that I knew everything in them when I took the exam. The checklists and flowcharts simply give me something that I can refer to quickly when I'm looking for issues.

So, I recommend simply going through class notes and the casebook (and maybe a supplement if the rules are unclear) and putting down all the relevant information in the outline, without worrying how messy it looks. As long as you have all the relevant information from a class in one document (without all of the stuff that doesn't matter), you can quickly read it over to get a good grasp of the law, and you should be able to make a good checklist from it.

BobSacamano
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby BobSacamano » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:21 am

For my outlines last semester, I used the syllabus as a guide for the structure. Basically every section on the syllabus was a new section of my outline. I think this is really useful for following the logic of the direction of your class that your professor wants you to follow, which is kind of important since you're taking YOUR PROFESSOR'S Torts or Contracts exam, not some random Torts exam. From there I just plugged in the rules that we learned and occasionally an example of the rules' application.

That worked great for me last semester. However, I started to outline this week and have had a lot of trouble with Con Law. Basically, my outline right now is a brief of all the cases. This isn't very helpful. I'm thinking that maybe I'll start to see the big picture later in the semester, but for right now all I see is a bunch of largely disjointed cases.

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badfish
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby badfish » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:36 am

I disagree with the statement above that facts are unimportant.

I think that it can be extremely helpful to be able to compare how similar or dissimilar the facts of the instant case are to a case that you are citing.

It helps to highlight ambiguities in the law and can provide doctrinal justification to push you one way or another when you're in a tough spot to make a decision. Finally it is a good lawyering practice and professors will appreciate it.

The key is to understand when it is appropriate and which facts are relevant. After all, you only have so much space.

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RVP11
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby RVP11 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:33 pm

nick637 wrote:As a 0L, how did you all learn to outline? Can you recommend any helpful books?


When you're a 1L.

--ImageRemoved--

dreman510
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby dreman510 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:50 pm

For Conlaw-how do you NOT put cases in? Last semester, I didnt put any cases in, except for like Strawbridge and International Shoe and Asahi.
But Conlaw, there is no BLL, and it seems that you need the cases for everything...

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sanpiero
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Re: Outlining, What Worked and What Sucked

Postby sanpiero » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:55 pm

tag




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