traydeuce wrote:I probably studied about 5% as much as this guy and still did rather well, but I will say to 0L's that, while the amount of time he spent studying may be insanely excessive, the actual STUFF he says you should do is entirely correct. Do not, whatever you do, (a) rely on your 2L friends' old outlines, (b) attempt to learn law out of a supplement (consult supplements solely for practice problems or to clear up areas you don't get, but be careful even with that - they may say different things than what you learned in class), (c) study for an open-book test any differently than you would a regular test (though see below), (d) for whatever bizarre reason, choose to not look obsessively through your professors' old exams. (That said, be aware that your professor may change exam formats wildly, though that's the exception, not the norm.)
A few other comments, elaborations, and hedging remarks. On open-book exams, while you must prepare for them seriously, unless you take a practice midterm and realize your professor is too much of an imbecile to write a tough test (this happened to me), don't think that there's some iron-clad rule that you should NOT look in the book. On the contrary, use the book. Way too few people realize this. I've had 5 open-book exams (and one take-home), all of which were A's, and on all but Civil Procedure, which you really should just know down pat, it's all rules, I spent a lot of time in the book. Why? Did I study insufficiently? No. Rather, this is what happens. Law school exams are weird; they often cover only about 10% of what you learned, and do so in great depth. They're frequently more of a random sample of what you know than anything else. I might have half a page in my outline on some topic that they want a long essay on, and that half page isn't really enough to work with to get an A. So this is when you go and look in the book for more detail. For example, in Admin Law you'll learn about how much power the President has to fire people in the executive branch. Does he have total power, can restrictions be placed on it, etc. We were asked whether Congress could place restrictions on the power of the President to remove people who sit on a commission that investigates plane crashes. The most recent big case in this area said that Congress could place restrictions on the power of the President to remove independent counsels. Rather than just recite the 2 or 3 things I had memorized about that case, I went and looked in the book for the exact reasons the Court was okay with restricting the P's power to sack ind. counsels, and analogized from those things to the plane crash people. Hence, I got an A. A more wishy-washy answer that just cited the very abstract rule of the case (some absurdity like "it's okay so long as executive power isn't unduly trammeled on") would not be an A. Now, this will only work if you read cases quickly and know how to root out the important bits of reasoning, but that's kind of what law school's about.
Don't mess with supplements. You will be burned. You will repeat something you saw in there that you never ever learned and the professor doesn't know, and the professor will have no idea where you got it and think you're just making stuff up.
Like OP says, it's all about the old exams. One professor's exams on a subject are completely different from the next. The difference between one professor's Torts exam and another's can be about as big as the difference between an LSAT and a poetry contest. Of course, you should be prepared to take any type of exam, but if I hadn't known what to expect going in from some of these guys I could easily have been in a state of shock for 15 minutes. Reading old exams can be huge. For example, our civil procedure professor is known to ask weird policy questions. These days in Civ Pro the big policy question is a case called Iqbal. Those of us who read his exams all knew that he would ask us whether Iqbal was wrongly decided. Those of us who were serious about preparing even went and read lots of law review articles about Iqbal so we could come up with arguments for and against. Before exam day, I already knew what I was going to write. Roughly speaking.
Make your own outlines. I outlined Admin Law the night before the test, was up till 3, arrived at the exam 40 minutes late. Prior to that I hadn't really studied at all. I still aced the thing because I really got the stuff from going through it myself, wrestling with it myself. And when you make an outline, work from the cases. Memorizing someone else's outline, copying the law from a supplement into an outline, even copying things straight out of your notes - that's not quite the same. My sole means of studying en route to all A's in nearly everything was this. I looked back at each case, wrote 1-3 sentences in the margin about it, and then typed up these in-book notes. The process of pulling the law out of the cases and then outlining helps you memorize; equally importantly, it helps you actually get the stuff. And it saves you a lot of time on the back end, because if the outlining process is more of an active exercise than simply copying and pasting things from your notes, you won't have to study your outline nearly as much.
OH COME ON. DID YOU 4.0 THIS SEMESTER TOO!?!?! We're dying to know man. You can't just tease us like that.
Also, excellent advice. Except I would fail if I showed up 40 minutes late lol.