How to be a top law student

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Photo by C D-X on Unsplash

If you’re beginning your first year with the goal of being a top law student, you’re not alone. Many of your classmates will have that same ambition. To set yourself apart, you’ll need to have a strategy for success from the start. If you’re not sure where to begin, you’re in the right place. These four simple tips will help you achieve your goals in law school.

  1. Focus on Your Class Notes

    Some law students feel like they need to spend all of their study time reading cases and creating briefs for class. While you should be prepared for class, you should remember that in a traditional law school class, your final exam will ultimately be your only grade.

    With that in mind, your focus should be on what your professor says in class. After all, professors write their own exams -- they’ll test what they teach in class. You can get important clues about which concepts will be tested both from the professor’s syllabus and from what they focus on in class.

  2. Make Outlining a Habit – from the Start!

    If procrastination was a strategy you used in undergrad, don’t expect that to work in law school! Your grade on your final exam will depend on your preparation throughout the semester.

    Instead of saving your outlines for the last third of the semester, outline as you go! If you get in the habit of adding to your outline each week, you’ll have more time to review and memorize the material before finals. That way, you’ll feel confident going into exams instead of cramming your outline into the last few weeks of the semester.

  3. Practice Exams

    Oftentimes, the difference between an “A” student and a “B” student is that the “A” student makes practice exams a priority! Make sure to practice answering exam questions prior to the real exam. The best exams at your disposal are your professor’s past exams. They will help you master the format of the exam, the issues your professor likes to test, and help ease your anxiety prior to exam day.

  4. Care for Yourself

    Yes, most top law students will spend long hours preparing for class and studying for finals. Successful law students also do something else: they care for their mental and physical health. Build in time in your study schedule to get some exercise and eat healthy meals, because taking breaks can help you refocus on your studies. Above all, make sure you’re getting enough sleep -- sacrificing sleep can have a major impact on your ability to learn!

Succeeding academically in law school can open important doors in your legal career. With a little planning and preparation, you can put yourself in the best position to achieve your goals.