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How long should my law school outline be?

Usually, when we explain the importance of outlining to our students, we are asked, “How long should my outline be?” As you may have guessed, there isn’t a magic number. But, there are some guidelines. For example, five pages is too short and 300 is too long.

How long should my law school outline be?

What is important about outlining is not so much page number as it is timing—it is all about when you start creating your law school outlines! If you start outlining early and you regularly actively review your law school outlines, the length doesn’t matter. Why? Well, this is because the earlier you start outlining and the more regularly you review it—the more you will know it! Many students throw an outline together at the last minute and that is essentially a waste of time. Why? Because they do not know their outline. So, if you start early and review your outline—you will know it. Which, by the way, is the whole purpose of outlining. (Check out our in-depth post on how to create a law school outline).

Most of our students who excel in their first-year courses and start outlining early have outlines that are about 50–80 pages long per class. Again, the length doesn’t matter because they know the outline inside and out.

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Some students ask us if attack outlines are helpful. Attack outlines are essentially very short outlines (1–5 pages) that are a general overview of a topic, or the specifics on one part of an issue. Attack outlines are not necessary but some students find that making an attack outline helps them review a topic or memorize a portion of their outline that is difficult for them.

So, in summary, to answer the question, “How long should my law school outline be?” There is not a magic number! How well you know your outline (and, how early you start it!) matters more than page number! So, timing of when you start outlining, not page number—is more important! Start outlining early and you will be much better prepared for your exams.