Not feeling good about your first-semester law school grades? Were your first-semester law school grades lower than you expected? Looking to improve your law school grades your next semester?
You are not alone. Many students struggle their first semester of law school and many receive grades that are lower than they expect. Students frequently complain that their grades do not reflect the amount of work that they put in over the semester. Additionally, a strict grading curve certainly does not help matters.
However, just because you did not get the grades you expected your first semester, does not mean you cannot improve your law school grades your second semester. If you revamp your study habits and change your focus, you can also improve your law school grades.
So if you are looking to improve your law school grades your second semester of law school, here are some tips to consider:
Tips to Improve Your Law School Grades:
1. Stop obsessing over cases. As you probably found out your first semester, knowing the assigned cases super-well is not going to necessarily help you score a stellar grade on the exam. It makes you look good in class, perhaps, but that does not correlate with your final grade.
We’re not saying that cases are bad. And we’re also not saying that your final grade will be hurt by reading cases. But the fact is, you only have so much time in a day, and if you spend hours reading cases every day, you will not have time to get to the important things – like outlining and practicing exam questions. So do not spend hours reading your cases every day. And for godsakes, do not brief every case you read. You have too many other important things to do. Which brings me to my second point…
2. Outline. Outline right away. Start outlining from Day 1 of your second semester of law school. You do not want to have to play catch-up toward the end of your semester or during your study period – that causes an enormous amount of unnecessary stress. Instead, organize the information that you learn into an outline each week. That way, you will learn the material better. Further, you will synthesize the material all throughout the semester and when you learn a new concept, you will see how it fits together with the concepts you have already learned – Every day won’t seem so random! If you did not make it a habit to outline regularly your first semester of law school, try it your second semester. You may be surprised at the difference it makes. If you are looking for more tips on how to make a law school outline, see this in-depth guide to making a law school outline.
3. Learn your outlines as you make them. Just as important as outlining is learning your outlines. Dedicate time each week to reviewing your outlines every week. Make it a priority. Outlining itself helps you to organize the material so that you are able to learn it, but constantly reviewing your outlines helps you to actually learn the material. You need to know the material cold if you want to succeed on your law school final exams.
Note, when you review your outlines, do not just read them over. If you simply try to read them again and again, you will get bored and retain very little. Instead, “actively” learn them. Quiz yourself on the material. Write mnemonics, draw diagrams. Do whatever you can to truly learn and internalize the material. For more ideas on how to learn your outlines, check out this post on 7 ways to learn law school outlines.
4. Take practice exams throughout the semester. Find your professor’s old exams (and model answers!). Find exams online. Don’t wait until study period to take exams. Start right away. First-year law school professors tend to test the same issues over and over. Practicing right off the bat will help you develop the essential skill of taking law school exams. For an in-depth guide on how to answer exam questions, see this post.
5. Consider what else you can change about your general study habits. Maybe you need to study more. Maybe you need to go to the library rather than trying to study at home. Maybe you need to wake up early rather than trying to study at night when there are more distractions. Maybe you need private tutoring to help you get a grasp on the fundamental legal concepts (feel free to contact us and check out our private tutoring if that’s the case). If you think tutoring might benefit you, we recommend you contact us sooner rather than later.
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