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When should I start my law school outlines?

Many students ask us, “When should I start my law school outlines?” To answer this question simply—sooner rather than later!  (If you are reading this before you start law school, we recommend starting in the beginning of the semester.)

Why start so early, you may ask? Well here is why:

When should I start my law school outlines?

 

5 reasons to start outlining early!

1. First, the sooner you start the sooner you will learn the crucial skill of outlining.

Outlining is a skill you will use throughout all of law school. Some students complain that starting early requires them to be constantly revising the outline. If you are revising your outline throughout the semester, this means that you are actually learning the material. That is because at the very beginning of the semester you might not see the big picture. But, as you get through more material, you should. Don’t forget—learning the material is the point of outlining.

2. Secondly, the earlier you start the more easily you will remember the material.

When you start outlining early in the semester you are able to work with small chunks of material at a time. We recommend that you set aside specific times each week to outline.  If you have three classes that each meet twice a week, you are outlining only six sessions once a week. This is much better than outlining six weeks of classes at a time! Plus, by working with a small amount of material, say a week’s worth at a time, you are able to digest it. You can actually figure out what you understand and what you don’t. (If you are wondering how to learn and regularly actively review your law school outlines, please see this post!)

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3. Another bonus of starting to outline early in the semester is that you will have time to actually learn it. 

By starting early, you will revisit the outline frequently and have time to painlessly memorize it. Just like we recommend that you take time each week to outline, you should also set aside time to actively review. Think of it this way—it’s much easier to learn five pages at a time rather than say, 50. And, if you start early, you will have time to actively review your outline and memorize what you need to know.

4. Fourth, if you start outlining early you likely won’t feel lost.

Many students feel lost halfway through the semester and can’t explain what has them confused. They don’t understand how concepts fit together. They don’t know why they are learning what they are learning. Or, how what they are learning in week seven fits in with anything they learned in week one. This is not the position you want to be in! If you make the time in your schedule each week to outline, you will minimize feelings of being overwhelmed or lost. Starting early will allow you will understand how week one concepts fit in with week five (that is the big picture).

(If you are feeling lost in law school, you should also check out this post, which gives you more tips!)

5. Lastly, you can actually use the study period to study.

Many students find that they are scrambling to outline during the study break. But, if you start early, your outline is complete by the time you get to study period! Thus, you can spend your study period reviewing your outline and practicing exams. This is something your classmates will NOT have time to do if they are scrambling to complete (or start!) outlines. This will allow you to be ahead of the curve. Plus, having your outline done will help you reduce stress and stay healthy!

Thus, there are a lot of reasons to start outlining early!

Read our in-depth post on how to create a law school outline for additional outlining tips.