Outlining as you go

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
abudaba
Posts: 89
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:57 pm

Outlining as you go

Postby abudaba » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:21 pm

So I'm moving into week 6 of classes and getting used to how this whole law school thing works. I've managed to keep up to date with the material and have been updating my outlines over the weekends. On occasion I have taken some class notes and reading notes directly into my outline and I find myself doing this more frequently.

I am now contemplating taking most or all of my notes directly into the outline and editing those notes on the weekends. I think this method may save time by getting the important stuff in there while its fresh and making quick edits on weekends rather than sifting through material that is a few days old and trying to distinguish important stuff after the fact.

I wonder if anyone has tried this method with any success (or failure)?

bradley
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:14 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby bradley » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:26 pm

IMO, the value of outlining is in the process. The point is not to have a finished product from which to study; it is to force yourself to put the law into your own words. It sucks and is time-consuming, but that's how you internalize it.

abudaba
Posts: 89
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:57 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby abudaba » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:35 pm

bradley wrote:IMO, the value of outlining is in the process. The point is not to have a finished product from which to study; it is to force yourself to put the law into your own words. It sucks and is time-consuming, but that's how you internalize it.


Great point - I could see myself falling into a trap by just copying down the professors thoughts and missing the internalization by not putting my own thought behind it.

But, I think so long as I go in prepared for class, have an understanding of the material beforehand, and keep engaged and thinking as the material comes at me it would be possible to avoid the pitfall of mindless transcription?

bradley
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:14 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby bradley » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:40 pm

abudaba wrote:
bradley wrote:IMO, the value of outlining is in the process. The point is not to have a finished product from which to study; it is to force yourself to put the law into your own words. It sucks and is time-consuming, but that's how you internalize it.


Great point - I could see myself falling into a trap by just copying down the professors thoughts and missing the internalization by not putting my own thought behind it.

But, I think so long as I go in prepared for class, have an understanding of the material beforehand, and keep engaged and thinking as the material comes at me it would be possible to avoid the pitfall of mindless transcription?


Maybe, but why risk it? I'm all about shortcuts in law school (i.e. not briefing cases, not diligently reading every assigned word), but this is one I would just not do. I can't tell you how many times I thought I understood something perfectly in class then when I went to outline it I was confused and had to go consult supplements/ask questions to figure it out. That's how you learn it.

abudaba
Posts: 89
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:57 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby abudaba » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:53 pm

Your point is very well taken, I have definitely experienced that before myself. But usually after I outline I have a much better understanding after seeing the material set out linearly.

But to play devils advocate for a moment: perhaps outlining the material would have actually helped commit the material to memory and kept you from being in the position you described? Or perhaps not, really no way to know.

User avatar
vamedic03
Posts: 1579
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:50 am

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby vamedic03 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:58 pm

abudaba wrote:Your point is very well taken, I have definitely experienced that before myself. But usually after I outline I have a much better understanding after seeing the material set out linearly.

But to play devils advocate for a moment: perhaps outlining the material would have actually helped commit the material to memory and kept you from being in the position you described? Or perhaps not, really no way to know.


Effective outline is about synthesizing the materials in the course and processing them to be able to appreciate the material as a whole. You cannot effectively do this until the last 1/3 of the course - you don't have enough yet to be able to synthesize.

bradley
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:14 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby bradley » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:07 pm

abudaba wrote:Your point is very well taken, I have definitely experienced that before myself. But usually after I outline I have a much better understanding after seeing the material set out linearly.

But to play devils advocate for a moment: perhaps outlining the material would have actually helped commit the material to memory and kept you from being in the position you described? Or perhaps not, really no way to know.


I'm sorry, I don't understand what this means. I honestly don't think law school is about memorization; it's about understanding the concepts and how it fits together. What's to memorize? The concepts - and once you have them down, they're easier to memorize.

I want to respond to the poster above me's post: I completely disagree. Start outlining now, because if you're outlining right it should take quite a long time and you want to spend exam period going over practice exams, not outlining. Besides, OP said he/she's 6 weeks into the semester - isn't that 1/3?

abudaba
Posts: 89
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:57 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby abudaba » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:11 pm

vamedic03 wrote: Effective outline is about synthesizing the materials in the course and processing them to be able to appreciate the material as a whole. You cannot effectively do this until the last 1/3 of the course - you don't have enough yet to be able to synthesize.


to each his own but I dont see any reason to wait when there are large chunks of course material complete and ready to synthesize now (Intentional Torts, Mutual Assent, Mens Rea, Actus Reus, Acquisition by Discovery, Creation, Find etc.).

Further, I dont recall any of the posters in the "Success in law school" thread advising procrastination. I did enough of that in college and I get the sense that it wont work out as well for law school.

My final 1/3 of the semester is going to be devoted to taking practice exams, not learning material already covered during the first 2/3's of the class.

Edit: to above poster - substitute "memorizing" for "understanding the concept" if you like. I understand the necessity to ultimately have the ability to apply the law, just used "memorizing" generically in this case.
Last edited by abudaba on Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
stocksly33
Posts: 130
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby stocksly33 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:13 pm

vamedic03 wrote: Effective outline is about synthesizing the materials in the course and processing them to be able to appreciate the material as a whole. You cannot effectively do this until the last 1/3 of the course - you don't have enough yet to be able to synthesize.


1 - I find taking notes directly into my outline to be a big time saver. And while outlining as I go works great for me, I definitely see the value in outlining after each topic area. I also like to do it while it's still fresh.

2 - I've learned to take a lot of advice on TLS with a grain of salt because everyone learns differently. But advice loses credibility when the author declares an absolute method, vs saying "here's what works for me." If you think what works for you will work for everyone else, you've already lost logical reasoning points in my book.

User avatar
Adjudicator
Posts: 1108
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:18 am

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby Adjudicator » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:15 pm

One of TLS' canonical "How to succeed in law school" guides makes the point that constructing your own outline as you go has the primary benefit of organizing what you learn into a coherent structure. The main advantage, he says, is that by making your own outline and adding to it over the course of the semester, you fit each new piece of law knowledge into an internal, coherent framework. At least, that's what I got out of it.

Makes sense to me, and I plan to do this.

bradley
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:14 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby bradley » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:16 pm

stocksly33 wrote:
vamedic03 wrote: Effective outline is about synthesizing the materials in the course and processing them to be able to appreciate the material as a whole. You cannot effectively do this until the last 1/3 of the course - you don't have enough yet to be able to synthesize.


1 - I find taking notes directly into my outline to be a big time saver. And while outlining as I go works great for me, I definitely see the value in outlining after each topic area. I also like to do it while it's still fresh.

2 - I've learned to take a lot of advice on TLS with a grain of salt because everyone learns differently. But advice loses credibility when the author declares an absolute method, vs saying "here's what works for me." If you think what works for you will work for everyone else, you've already lost logical reasoning points in my book.


Then why ask for advice? I understand some people are very successful in law school by taking shortcuts on their outline. But this is VERY rare and I would not take the risk, especially in your first semester. I've tutored a lot of 1L's, and people who use this method usually don't do as well. To reiterate, the goal is not to have a finished product called an outline; the goal is to force yourself to put the material into your own words and in your own logical organization. Taking a shortcut = not doing it.

User avatar
vamedic03
Posts: 1579
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:50 am

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby vamedic03 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:45 pm

abudaba wrote:
vamedic03 wrote: Effective outline is about synthesizing the materials in the course and processing them to be able to appreciate the material as a whole. You cannot effectively do this until the last 1/3 of the course - you don't have enough yet to be able to synthesize.


to each his own but I dont see any reason to wait when there are large chunks of course material complete and ready to synthesize now (Intentional Torts, Mutual Assent, Mens Rea, Actus Reus, Acquisition by Discovery, Creation, Find etc.).

Further, I dont recall any of the posters in the "Success in law school" thread advising procrastination. I did enough of that in college and I get the sense that it wont work out as well for law school.

My final 1/3 of the semester is going to be devoted to taking practice exams, not learning material already covered during the first 2/3's of the class.

Edit: to above poster - substitute "memorizing" for "understanding the concept" if you like. I understand the necessity to ultimately have the ability to apply the law, just used "memorizing" generically in this case.


1) You can take or leave my advice - I don't care

2) I don't encourage procrastination - waiting until its an appropriate point to begin outlining isn't procrastination as, at least from my viewpoint, its not possible to effectively outline prior to that point (procrastination would be waiting until the week before the exam)

3) I'm not sure what your reference to the "success in law school" threads is supposed to mean. I'm a 2L with excellent grades - however, I don't have the time to write a long "success in law school" post.

4) Doing a few appropriate practice exams is good. Spending 1/3 of the semester on it, probably not so good for 2 reasons:

a) Its unlikely your professor has that many practice exams available, and

b) Its likely to cause burnout

User avatar
vamedic03
Posts: 1579
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:50 am

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby vamedic03 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:46 pm

stocksly33 wrote:
vamedic03 wrote: Effective outline is about synthesizing the materials in the course and processing them to be able to appreciate the material as a whole. You cannot effectively do this until the last 1/3 of the course - you don't have enough yet to be able to synthesize.


1 - I find taking notes directly into my outline to be a big time saver. And while outlining as I go works great for me, I definitely see the value in outlining after each topic area. I also like to do it while it's still fresh.

2 - I've learned to take a lot of advice on TLS with a grain of salt because everyone learns differently. But advice loses credibility when the author declares an absolute method, vs saying "here's what works for me." If you think what works for you will work for everyone else, you've already lost logical reasoning points in my book.


In response to (2) - this is asinine - of course I'm posting "what works for me." By your reasoning, every time someone gives an opinion they should preface it with "in my opinion."

dakatz
Posts: 2460
Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 4:19 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby dakatz » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:56 pm

I'm finding it very helpful to outline as I go along. I could see this being horribly overwhelming to those who wait until the last few weeks to really get going. I try and update them about once a week to incorporate everything from that week. And I also have sort of an outline "review session" once a week in which I go back to the beginning and go over the past key concepts again. Its almost like playing the game "Simon". The more times you do it, the easier the beginning part of the sequence becomes. The material from the first 2 weeks I feel like I have totally down, instead of letting it fade out as I focus on newer material. Seeing as this is my first semester, I'm skeptical of anything that gives me a false sense of complacency. Also, I'm pretty sure 2 of my 3 professors don't even allow outlines or any other materials on the exam. So I guess there will be a lot of editing to get these babies down to a shorter and more memory-friendly form come late semester.

User avatar
stocksly33
Posts: 130
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby stocksly33 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:58 pm

bradley wrote: Then why ask for advice? I understand some people are very successful in law school by taking shortcuts on their outline. But this is VERY rare and I would not take the risk, especially in your first semester. I've tutored a lot of 1L's, and people who use this method usually don't do as well. To reiterate, the goal is not to have a finished product called an outline; the goal is to force yourself to put the material into your own words and in your own logical organization. Taking a shortcut = not doing it.


I don't mean it as a learning shortcut, I mean it's an efficiency shortcut because you don't have to transcribe to your notes and then copy over to your outline. And I def agree that its the process not the finished product. Altho sometimes I just throw minor nuances in my outline cause I know I'll forget it if I don't.

User avatar
stocksly33
Posts: 130
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby stocksly33 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:05 pm

vamedic03 wrote: You cannot effectively do this until the last 1/3 of the course - you don't have enough yet to be able to synthesize.


vamedic03 wrote: In response to (2) - this is asinine - of course I'm posting "what works for me." By your reasoning, every time someone gives an opinion they should preface it with "in my opinion."


You're assuming we can only post replies that say... "IMO..." or an absolute declarative. Many posters respond with qualifiers, or generally just suggest a method. I do think it's fair to red flag opinions that think their method is the only method or best method for everyone.

Anyways, let's not hijack a substantive thread. Peace.

User avatar
vamedic03
Posts: 1579
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:50 am

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby vamedic03 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:32 pm

stocksly33 wrote:
vamedic03 wrote: You cannot effectively do this until the last 1/3 of the course - you don't have enough yet to be able to synthesize.


vamedic03 wrote: In response to (2) - this is asinine - of course I'm posting "what works for me." By your reasoning, every time someone gives an opinion they should preface it with "in my opinion."


You're assuming we can only post replies that say... "IMO..." or an absolute declarative. Many posters respond with qualifiers, or generally just suggest a method. I do think it's fair to red flag opinions that think their method is the only method or best method for everyone.

Anyways, let's not hijack a substantive thread. Peace.


EDIT - I was a little harsh - however, you're parsing my prior posts acts as a disincentive for offering advice.

User avatar
goosey
Posts: 1543
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:48 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby goosey » Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:40 pm

would also like to add a suggestion to this that I started this week:

print out updated version of outline each week and read through it 10 minutes before class daily...I am hoping the revision helps me memorize it in a sane way. my torts exam is closed book, so Id really like to make sure I know everything---especially cases I can analogize to. Im assuming that since its closed book and most ppl dont outline until the end, there will be people that either memorize bll and just use that, or else ppl that memorize everything abt cases and dont really know how to take exams..so then I can throw some nice analogies in there and make my exam stand out. Reading through the outlines twice (or three times a week for civ pro) will probably be really good for memorizing

ps: i have no idea how ppl outline at the end of the semester...I had a hard time remembering how certain things fit together thsi past weekend because I was outlining material that was about 2 wks old

abudaba
Posts: 89
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:57 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby abudaba » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:15 pm

goosey wrote:would also like to add a suggestion to this that I started this week:

print out updated version of outline each week and read through it 10 minutes before class daily...I am hoping the revision helps me memorize it in a sane way. my torts exam is closed book, so Id really like to make sure I know everything---especially cases I can analogize to. Im assuming that since its closed book and most ppl dont outline until the end, there will be people that either memorize bll and just use that, or else ppl that memorize everything abt cases and dont really know how to take exams..so then I can throw some nice analogies in there and make my exam stand out. Reading through the outlines twice (or three times a week for civ pro) will probably be really good for memorizing

ps: i have no idea how ppl outline at the end of the semester...I had a hard time remembering how certain things fit together thsi past weekend because I was outlining material that was about 2 wks old


I completely agree - reading it on paper is a different experience. I usually print out every couple weeks to review and make edits by hand but never done a review before class. Thanks for the suggestion, I might give that a try

User avatar
mikeytwoshoes
Posts: 1117
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:45 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:25 pm

vamedic03 wrote:
abudaba wrote:Your point is very well taken, I have definitely experienced that before myself. But usually after I outline I have a much better understanding after seeing the material set out linearly.

But to play devils advocate for a moment: perhaps outlining the material would have actually helped commit the material to memory and kept you from being in the position you described? Or perhaps not, really no way to know.


Effective outline is about synthesizing the materials in the course and processing them to be able to appreciate the material as a whole. You cannot effectively do this until the last 1/3 of the course - you don't have enough yet to be able to synthesize.


bradley wrote:
abudaba wrote:Your point is very well taken, I have definitely experienced that before myself. But usually after I outline I have a much better understanding after seeing the material set out linearly.

But to play devils advocate for a moment: perhaps outlining the material would have actually helped commit the material to memory and kept you from being in the position you described? Or perhaps not, really no way to know.


I'm sorry, I don't understand what this means. I honestly don't think law school is about memorization; it's about understanding the concepts and how it fits together. What's to memorize? The concepts - and once you have them down, they're easier to memorize.

I want to respond to the poster above me's post: I completely disagree. Start outlining now, because if you're outlining right it should take quite a long time and you want to spend exam period going over practice exams, not outlining. Besides, OP said he/she's 6 weeks into the semester - isn't that 1/3?

Reading comprehension fail.

User avatar
stocksly33
Posts: 130
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby stocksly33 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:39 pm

abudaba wrote:
goosey wrote:would also like to add a suggestion to this that I started this week:

print out updated version of outline each week and read through it 10 minutes before class daily...I am hoping the revision helps me memorize it in a sane way. my torts exam is closed book, so Id really like to make sure I know everything---especially cases I can analogize to. Im assuming that since its closed book and most ppl dont outline until the end, there will be people that either memorize bll and just use that, or else ppl that memorize everything abt cases and dont really know how to take exams..so then I can throw some nice analogies in there and make my exam stand out. Reading through the outlines twice (or three times a week for civ pro) will probably be really good for memorizing

ps: i have no idea how ppl outline at the end of the semester...I had a hard time remembering how certain things fit together thsi past weekend because I was outlining material that was about 2 wks old


I completely agree - reading it on paper is a different experience. I usually print out every couple weeks to review and make edits by hand but never done a review before class. Thanks for the suggestion, I might give that a try


onenote has a cool feature for learning your outline... it lets you collapse/expand text. so you'll see "rule 15(a)" ... then you can quiz yourself on what the rule is... then you click expand and it will show you the rule... then you collapse and continue to the next piece of your outline. it's like digital flashcards inside your outline.

dakatz
Posts: 2460
Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 4:19 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby dakatz » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:42 pm

stocksly33 wrote:
abudaba wrote:
goosey wrote:would also like to add a suggestion to this that I started this week:

print out updated version of outline each week and read through it 10 minutes before class daily...I am hoping the revision helps me memorize it in a sane way. my torts exam is closed book, so Id really like to make sure I know everything---especially cases I can analogize to. Im assuming that since its closed book and most ppl dont outline until the end, there will be people that either memorize bll and just use that, or else ppl that memorize everything abt cases and dont really know how to take exams..so then I can throw some nice analogies in there and make my exam stand out. Reading through the outlines twice (or three times a week for civ pro) will probably be really good for memorizing

ps: i have no idea how ppl outline at the end of the semester...I had a hard time remembering how certain things fit together thsi past weekend because I was outlining material that was about 2 wks old


I completely agree - reading it on paper is a different experience. I usually print out every couple weeks to review and make edits by hand but never done a review before class. Thanks for the suggestion, I might give that a try


onenote has a cool feature for learning your outline... it lets you collapse/expand text. so you'll see "rule 15(a)" ... then you can quiz yourself on what the rule is... then you click expand and it will show you the rule... then you collapse and continue to the next piece of your outline. it's like digital flashcards inside your outline.


Mind sharing how that is done? Sounds like a great tool for studying

User avatar
stocksly33
Posts: 130
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby stocksly33 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:00 pm

dakatz wrote:Mind sharing how that is done? Sounds like a great tool for studying


yeah, but it's kinda hard to explain... to the left of every new line there's a little button that appears. that button lets you expand and collapse all lines below it (only the lines that are inferior and under that topic tho - not the entire page). so you just set up your lines so that the line below it is the explanation of the line above it... like...

1) Pleadings
A. Rule 7
1. <here is where the text of the rule is>
2. <here are some notes about the rule>
a. <here are some exceptions>

etc.

so you collapse everything below 'Rule 7' by clicking the button to the left of it. its mostly science, but a little art.

dakatz
Posts: 2460
Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 4:19 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby dakatz » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:16 pm

stocksly33 wrote:
dakatz wrote:Mind sharing how that is done? Sounds like a great tool for studying


yeah, but it's kinda hard to explain... to the left of every new line there's a little button that appears. that button lets you expand and collapse all lines below it (only the lines that are inferior and under that topic tho - not the entire page). so you just set up your lines so that the line below it is the explanation of the line above it... like...

1) Pleadings
A. Rule 7
1. <here is where the text of the rule is>
2. <here are some notes about the rule>
a. <here are some exceptions>

etc.

so you collapse everything below 'Rule 7' by clicking the button to the left of it. its mostly science, but a little art.


Wow you are totally right. All I had to do was doubleclick the little box. Would never have realized that. Thanks. This will be a great way to see if I truly have this stuff memorized.

User avatar
onthecusp
Posts: 218
Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:08 pm

Re: Outlining as you go

Postby onthecusp » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:12 am

I've been outlining as I brief. I have a system going right now that is working for me. It's helping me to see the big picture and always be mindful of where everything fits. I extract the rules and stick it right into the outline verbatim, then go and beat it up over the weekend to coincide with my own words. I couldn't see myself waiting until 4 weeks before exams to outline everything as some have suggested. Why do that when four weeks away I could have a comprehensive outline to work with. Then all I have to do is condense it down to a 4-5 pages, than to 1-2 and I'm good.




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: LawHammer, MSNbot Media, wg6524 and 10 guests