Take your outlining knowledge from undergrad and turn it up 10 notches. Outlines are not just helpful for studying; they are an absolute necessity if you plan to pass your law school classes. Follow these guidelines that will help you create efficient and effective outlines.
To start your outline, begin taking detailed notes to begin your outline on your first day of class. You might not have much information to add, but you don’t want to miss anything.
Ditch your pen and paper for a laptop.
Don’t even try to take notes on paper. Bring a laptop to class, and learn how to type fast. An alternative is a tablet with a keyboard. You will end up making several changes to your outlines, so a digital copy is best. (What did law students do before computers?)
Review your outlines with a study group.
You are not the only student in your class who wants to do well on your exams. You and your classmates all have the same goal: pass the class! Finding a group to study with will help hold you accountable for manageable studying, and will ensure you are not studying the wrong information. Compare outlines and learn from one another. Law school is hard enough without allies!
If your professor is available, consider asking him/her to give you feedback on the accuracy of the information in your outline.
Outlines are living documents.
As you continue learning, keep updating past outlines to add more information that will help you fully understand the topic. You are never finished learning, and you want to make sure you have every piece of information you’ll need on an exam.
Pick a buddy.
Have at least one dependable friend in each class who you can rely on to share outlines with you if you have to miss class (and you will). In exchange, you will do the same for him/her.
Find a 2L or 3L who took the same class.
Ask for this person’s advice on how to get a good grade with a specific professor and specific class. Compare and contrast your outlines. Although this is helpful, many students suggest creating and studying your own outline as opposed to studying an outline made by another person. It is more time consuming, but worth it in the end.
Compile and consolidate your outlines.
Before you take your exams, review your outlines to make any last additions or changes, and then create at least one other version of your outline. According to the LearnLeo blog, you should have a comprehensive outline (50+ pages), a condensed outline (10-20 pages) and a checklist (2 pages).
Having multiple variations of your outline will ensure that you can quickly find the information you’re searching for while taking an exam.
Review and consolidate your class notes and reading assignment outlines before your next class session. It sounds tedious, but it will help you in a couple ways:
- You will have already prepared your outline on that topic in time for finals.
- You’re prepared to answer questions about your assigned reading during the next class.
Test your outline on a practice exam.
Just for good measure.
Learn more about outlining from these resources:
Law School Outlines: It’s All About When You Start
Law School Outlining 101
Law School Outlining: Why, When and How to Do It [PDF]
Wish I Would Have Known: Outlining 101
Creating a Course Outline [PDF]
Study Tips: How to Outline