An A+ is fun to get. Especially in law school, where A+’s are so rare. At my school (and I think at virtually every law school though I have not verified this) an A+ has no special effect on your GPA. So a plain old “A” is treated the same as an “A+” for GPA purposes. And class ranking purposes. And everything that matters, outside of your own ego!
The reason I tried to get A+’s in law school was that if I aimed for an A+ and I fell short, I would still probably get an A. In other words, I would rather fail at the goal of getting an A+ than fail at the goal of getting an A.
I also liked to see that I was the only A+ in a class. For my first-year classes, I was often the sole A+ listed on the anonymous final grades list. That was a nice confidence booster!
I got A+’s in 5 of my 8 graded first-year courses. (I also got honors in my Legal Writing classes.) And I got A+’s in several second-year courses. (I received A+’s in the following classes: Contracts A, Torts, Civil Procedure B, Contracts B, Property, Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights, Constitutional Law II, Evidence, Agency & Partnership, and Education Law.) Of the 18 classes I was graded in, I received A+’s in 10 of them. (Some of my classes were not awarded letter grades – like mediation, and law-related education classes I took through the School of Education or at other law schools.)
If you want to get A+’s in law school, the first thing you need to do is read this FREE guide on how to excel in law school. It contains my exact recipe for success!
These tips are for those of you who not only aim to get A’s but aim to get A+’s!
How I got A+’s in 55% of my law school classes.
1. Don’t pay attention to what everyone else thinks.
Stop obsessing over reading cases just because your classmates are focusing on cases. Cases honestly don’t matter.
Stop worrying about how you perform “on call” just because you are nervous. (Hint: no one cares!) And it does not affect your grades.
Stop joining useless study groups just because you feel like you “should.”
The second you start following the crowd, the second you are committed to being average or working hard but not efficiently. It is okay to be different. In fact, if you want to stand out, you have to be.
Becoming accustomed to this – and even motivated by this — right off the bat is critical if you want to get A+’s in law school.
2. Make your outlines your best friends.
To get A+’s in law school, not only do you need to start making your outlines from Day 1, but you need to also start memorizing them from Day 1 and obsessing over them. So, type up your outline, print it, and memorize it. Put your outline in a thin binder. (You should have one binder for each class.) Constantly review your outlines. I highly recommend you review them on paper rather than on a screen. That way, you can highlight, write in the margins as you think of mnemonics or charts, etc. The goal is not to have a beautiful outline, the goal is to know your outline inside and out.
3. Include case names in your outlines and memorize those.
I am not a big fan of reading cases, if you couldn’t tell, but if you talk about a case in class and it stands for a principle of law, write it down in your outline. I used to say things like, “An offer requires intent, essential terms, and communication. Smith v Smith. Stating the lowest price is not enough to create an offer because it is too indefinite. Doe v. Dunbar.” And include these nice little case citations throughout my law school answer, which is especially impressive in a closed-book exam where you cannot have the rules out. I think it made a difference in impressing the professor.
Some people ask where I had the time to memorize case names. The time is easy to find if you don’t focus on the wrong things (reading cases, on-call performance). You can include case names right in your outline and memorize them each week as you memorize the elements of the law.
4. Start taking practice exams as soon as possible and print every practice exam your professor has on file.
You should access Every Single Practice Exam that your professor makes available. Then google practice exams with model answers and find more. Print them all at the beginning of the semester so you don’t find any excuses not to complete them. Complete all of these. Make it a habit to complete some practice problems every day.
In the beginning, just start with a book like Examples and Explanations. But as the semester goes on, incorporate exam questions into your schedule. This, outlining, and memorizing your outlines should take up all of your time.
This is how you truly master the art of practice exams.
5. Become obsessed with your goal.
The only way you will work harder and smarter toward your goal of getting A+’s in law school is to become obsessed with it. Nobody can make this happen for you. It is internal within you. You don’t necessarily need a lofty goal after law school. And you don’t want to do it to impress your friends (they don’t care)! You want to do it for you. The one thing that can drive you day-in and day-out is your own internal motivation to do the best you possibly can in law school. This does not mean you can never take a break. (In fact, I took one full day a week off in law school.) This does mean you have to work smart, work hard, and not lose sight of your academic focus.
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