despina wrote:3. Everybody calm right on down about exams and outlines. Some people do like to look at outlines during the course -- I never looked at any until I started studying a few weeks before exams and I did just fine. Looking at exams and outlines right now, before class even starts, is just going to stress you out unnecessarily and make you feel like you "should" be doing something to prepare or that you're behind if you're just relaxing now. You shouldn't and you're not. You should be enjoying the rest of your summer and figuring out real logistical issues like public transit and buying textbooks online. Probably one of the worst thing I did to stress myself out 1L year was opening the exam bank in September -- it just made me panic and feel like I was already behind, while it didn't give me any insight into how to prepare for class or ace exams.
On this point, I want to say something that is not directly in contradiction to this, but runs sort of the opposite direction. I bring this up only because I wanted
to do a little bit of reading up on things in August, but I felt inhibited because people said that it was a terrible idea and I shouldn't and it would be really bad and so on.
No one needs
to be looking at exams and outlines and such now. Classes don't start for three weeks. But if you feel like it, it wouldn't be harmful
to look at an exam or an outline or someone's class notes from a previous year right around the time classes are starting, as long as you're not neurotic about it. Law school is not some mystical experience in which knowledge must be withheld from the uninitiated. You just have to bear in mind that early in the semester you're not going to know anywhere near enough to answer exam questions, and you probably aren't going to be able to do anything like a proper outline yet. (I started outlining really early, and I didn't start until October.)
Even in September, though, you can still get a general sense as to what the exam will look like, and you can see how someone else has approached the problem of outlining for the course. Take everything with a grain of salt, of course, because everyone does these things a little differently, and someone's outline may not be very good even if that person got an H (or even a DS), so you may have to adjust what that person did. But you can still get a sense as to what's going on, and you can get a more global picture of how what you're doing from day to day is going to fit into what you're going to have to do at the end of the course. For some people, not knowing is more stressful than knowing.
Also, apparently most people don't take real class notes, but I do, and if you can get ahold of those for someone who had the same professor as you, those tell you what class discussion is going to focus on for pretty much every day and every case. That can be useful from the first day of class, even if you have no thought in your head about exam prep yet.
Finally, if you're curious, there's no harm in poking around even now (in mid-August), but do it because you're interested and want to, not because you feel like you need to. You don't need to. There's nothing that you can do now that will put you ahead of the curve in any meaningful way. But if you feel like learning what it means to brief a case for class, you could read general descriptions about that now. (Google will pop up answers to that for you.) If you want to go as far as reading Getting to Maybe now, there's no harm in it, though you'll probably understand about 25% of what the authors are saying and have to read it again in November. It doesn't give you any advantage
, but if you want
to, don't hold yourself back because you're worried about something or other.
In other words, don't let judgmental people, especially on TLS, tell you what to do or what not to do. What you do or don't do in August will not help you or hurt you for the exam in December, so do whatever you feel like. And there are
things you can do in late August (like learning how to prepare for class) that will make early September less awkward and confusing, though it will still be somewhat awkward and confusing.