Outline Help, Perfectionism

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Bunbury
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:05 pm

Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby Bunbury » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:57 pm

I'm a 1L and I'm really struggling with outlining. I'm finding it difficult to make progress because I keep having doubts about the approach I'm taking, what the outline should contain (cases, level of detail, etc.), what resources I should be using and so on. In general, outlining is bringing out all my perfectionist tendencies and I'm beginning to freak out that I'll never finish them in time.

Any advice from 2Ls with a perfectionist streak?

Edited to fix dumb grammar typo

omd3117
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Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 8:23 pm

Re: Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby omd3117 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:33 pm

I had a similar issue. I think what was helpful for me to understand was that your outline may not look the same as others around you or even have the same formatting. I wasted so much time trying to convert my stuff into a "perfect outline" but what I quickly learned that is this process is used as a tool for you to study. So many of my outlines looked like crap during second semester because I ran out of time, but through the process of refining the information (first going from a huge freaking ugly outline to then a small one page checklist) I did the best.

I know it's hard, but try to not get wrapped up in whether or not your outline is "right". You know this once you started taking practice exams and realize you have either been using it as a paper to write down random stuff in or if you've been gearing it toward analyzing specific issues/legal rules.

dabigchina
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Re: Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby dabigchina » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:02 pm

Here's what I realized about outlining: what you put on the outline doesn't matter. Outlining is helpful because it forces you to organize information in a framework that you will use on the exam. Chances are good you will barely look at the outline on the exam.

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goldenflash19
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Re: Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby goldenflash19 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:39 pm

I wouldn't worry about making the outline overly detailed. Short and sweet is the best.

What worked for me was having 2 outlines - the traditional one, and then a 2-3 page attack sheet/checklist consisting mainly of elements/factors and different courts' approaches. The checklist was of much more use given the time restraints, it made it easy to throw in alternative arguments and see forks, and I'd run through it super quick before writing as insurance to make sure I didn't miss anything. It'd look something like this:

Name of law / concept (page #s in big outline)
Factor Test/Elements - sometimes a super abbreviated definition
A.
B.
C.
Courts' Approaches
Jdx 1. - short statement (case name)
Jdx 2. -short statement (case name)

For quick reference, I'd cross-reference the relevant pages in the big outline. I usually didn't need to check the big outline more than 2 or 3 times per exam, as making the outline and consolidating in the checklist cemented things pretty good and I could recall a case's holding just from seeing the name.

This worked great for me- maybe you'll find it useful!

Bunbury
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:05 pm

Re: Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby Bunbury » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:13 pm

omd3117 wrote:I had a similar issue. I think what was helpful for me to understand was that your outline may not look the same as others around you or even have the same formatting. I wasted so much time trying to convert my stuff into a "perfect outline" but what I quickly learned that is this process is used as a tool for you to study. So many of my outlines looked like crap during second semester because I ran out of time, but through the process of refining the information (first going from a huge freaking ugly outline to then a small one page checklist) I did the best.

I know it's hard, but try to not get wrapped up in whether or not your outline is "right". You know this once you started taking practice exams and realize you have either been using it as a paper to write down random stuff in or if you've been gearing it toward analyzing specific issues/legal rules.


I'm glad I'm not the only person to run into this problem. I have wasted so much time on it but it sounds like the sooner I let go of the "perfect outline" the more time I'll have to actually learn the material. I've decided to follow a no formatting policy and just outline within the table of contents. Hopefully it works :).

dabigchina wrote:Here's what I realized about outlining: what you put on the outline doesn't matter. Outlining is helpful because it forces you to organize information in a framework that you will use on the exam. Chances are good you will barely look at the outline on the exam.


I hope I barely look at it. It's definitely a relief to think about it in those terms. And it also makes sense to invest time in understanding things conceptually vs. writing everything down. I'll be so happy when this is done!

goldenflash19 wrote:I wouldn't worry about making the outline overly detailed. Short and sweet is the best.

What worked for me was having 2 outlines - the traditional one, and then a 2-3 page attack sheet/checklist consisting mainly of elements/factors and different courts' approaches. The checklist was of much more use given the time restraints, it made it easy to throw in alternative arguments and see forks, and I'd run through it super quick before writing as insurance to make sure I didn't miss anything. It'd look something like this:

Name of law / concept (page #s in big outline)
Factor Test/Elements - sometimes a super abbreviated definition
A.
B.
C.
Courts' Approaches
Jdx 1. - short statement (case name)
Jdx 2. -short statement (case name)

For quick reference, I'd cross-reference the relevant pages in the big outline. I usually didn't need to check the big outline more than 2 or 3 times per exam, as making the outline and consolidating in the checklist cemented things pretty good and I could recall a case's holding just from seeing the name.

This worked great for me- maybe you'll find it useful!


That skeleton is really helpful. Thank you! I guess I wasn't sure if short and sweet was best for the big outline. Between my reading notes, class notes, briefs, the restatement/ucc/frcp/etc., hypos, other people's outlines, and supplements there's just a lot and it's easy to get bogged down in the details or feel like I'm missing something.

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proteinshake
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Re: Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby proteinshake » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:51 pm

Bunbury wrote:I'm a 1L and I'm really struggling with outlining. I'm finding it difficult to make progress because I keep having doubts about the approach I'm taking, what the outline should contain (cases, level of detail, etc.), what resources I should be using and so on. In general, outlining is bringing out all my perfectionist tendencies and I'm beginning to freak out that I'll never finish them in time.

Any advice from 2Ls with a perfectionist streak?

Edited to fix dumb grammar typo

1L here. if you need help organizing it, look at your class syllabus or casebook table of contents. that should make it much easier to figure out the general way your outline should look.

nrthwst4now
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:11 pm

Re: Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby nrthwst4now » Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:13 pm

proteinshake wrote:
Bunbury wrote:I'm a 1L and I'm really struggling with outlining. I'm finding it difficult to make progress because I keep having doubts about the approach I'm taking, what the outline should contain (cases, level of detail, etc.), what resources I should be using and so on. In general, outlining is bringing out all my perfectionist tendencies and I'm beginning to freak out that I'll never finish them in time.

Any advice from 2Ls with a perfectionist streak?

Edited to fix dumb grammar typo

1L here. if you need help organizing it, look at your class syllabus or casebook table of contents. that should make it much easier to figure out the general way your outline should look.


I personally thought it was helpful to slowly condense my class notes into an outline. The first round would be something way too long like a 40 page outline, then I would half it once or twice. During that process I would create mnemonic devices for concepts that were complicated. Worked for me. I also agree with the feedback that create an outline then start using it for practice exams quickly - that is one of the best ways to see if you have what you need. Obviously, whether the test is open book or not should impact your strategy.

I had most cases down to the plaintiff's name and one or, at most, two sentences.

HaveMercy
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Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 5:47 pm

Re: Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby HaveMercy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:11 am

Just to piggyback off this... I'm having a lot of trouble outlining for Ks. I understand UCC is for sale of goods and Restatement is for everything else, but then when should I use CL rules? I feel as if all the cases either fall into the UCC or Restatement. Should I be finding rules for every CL case or just list it under the Restatement rule?

cavalier1138
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Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:56 am

HaveMercy wrote:Just to piggyback off this... I'm having a lot of trouble outlining for Ks. I understand UCC is for sale of goods and Restatement is for everything else, but then when should I use CL rules? I feel as if all the cases either fall into the UCC or Restatement. Should I be finding rules for every CL case or just list it under the Restatement rule?


The Restatement is an articulation of the common-law rule. This is true for any class where you work with a restatement.

So while you should use the Restatement as your starting point for articulating the rule, the cases are going to tell you how that rule actually plays out in practice. Use the cases to compare fact patterns and find points to distinguish when arguing BOTH SIDES [ETA: +10 points for whoever set the auto-caps filter up for that phrase]. With the UCC, you should do the same thing, but you can rely much more heavily on the pure text of the statute.

muscleboundlaw
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Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:20 pm

Re: Outline Help, Perfectionism

Postby muscleboundlaw » Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:08 pm

My outline essentially follows the table of contents in the books we have read, and then rules/ elements of rules that apply. Examples when there could be some variation in application of the rule. It's condensed, but to the point. I never wrote a bigger outline. I don't see a point. I won't be using the bigger one to study.




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