5 tips for studying during quarantine

By Alexandra Sumner 

These past few weeks have been both alarming and inconvenient, but I think it’s safe to say the next few will be as well.

If you attend one of the many law schools that has decided to switch to “at-home learning,” here are some tips to help you effectively study and attend lectures in quarantine.

Set up “base camp” in a quiet, isolated room. I know this may not be possible for everyone — especially for those who have children at home during this time — but if you can, find a quiet room or corner where you can truly hunker down and do your work in peace.

If this means being with your children during the day and doing your schoolwork at night, so be it. If possible, study using the same method and same amount of time/energy as you did at the library - your time at home may feel like a long spring break, but I can assure you there will be nothing “fun” about your final exams.

- Multitask effectively. This is a secret I thought I’d never share: When I watch online lecture I often peel garlic, clip coupons or fold laundry. The truth is, I just get bored staring at the screen for hours. I need to do something with my hands or I’ll go nuts.

As you switch to online lectures, I suggest you do the same: doodle, peel potatoes, meal prep, do crunches/jumping jacks/lunges, brush your cat, do your nails — do something to keep yourself awake and productive. As long as the activity you choose doesn’t require too much attention and brain power, you’ll be fine - and better for it.

Take breaks when needed. It’s going to feel weird taking a “siesta” in the middle of the school day, but be honest with yourself: every minute of the day you spend in law school isn’t productive, either.

You chat with friends, ask your professors a question after class, and eat lunch in the cafeteria - you are entitled to a few breaks throughout the day. What I’m saying is: don’t feel guilty.

But don’t get lazy. Over the next few weeks it will be easy to imagine that you’re on one long holiday or vacation, but you’re not. You still an enrolled law student and you still have the obligation to (1) watch, attend, and participate in lectures; (2) do any required reading for your classes; and (3) study and prepare for final exams.

Don’t forget that. You should study with the same intensity and fervor as when classes were in session - I can assure you that even in this pandemic, law professors will continue to grade harshly and without pity.

Video conference with friends and peers. Need help understanding a concept or case holding? Set up a Zoom/Skype/Facetime conference with your law school peers. If you have a school Facebook page or Group Chat, suggest creating a set time/date to video conference with one another to socialize and ask questions. (A virtual study group.)

You can even pair off on separate conference and quiz each other on flashcards and cases. A lot of video conferencing services are offering free or discounted rates during the quarantine, decide which tools would be the most helpful to you.

Lastly, a message. I know many of you are frustrated and disappointed with the cancellation of major activities — in some cases, with law schools even postponing commencement in late May. You have every right to feel upset and robbed of a major milestone in your life and career. In the words of Mr. Rodgers, “It’s ok to feel sad.” Or angry. Or hurt.

I can only hope that your law school will do something to acknowledge your achievements. Will it come close to the pomp and circumstance you were expecting? Probably not. But I hope - after all this is finished - you are able to celebrate your accomplishments with your friends and family. You put a lot of work in to get this far, I’m proud of you.


Alexandra Sumner is a recent graduate of Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.