August 26, 2016

Goals for a New Semester of Law School

my goals for the new semester are: read every case, add highlights from the text to notes weekly, update outlines bi-weekly, review outlines bi-weekly, summarize each chapter after reading it, update flashcards monthly, keep an update case list, and to speak up in at least one class a week |

Hellooooo! I hope everyone's semester has started off as well as mine has! Not going to lie, the first day of class as a transfer student was slightly awkward when literally everyone but me was buddied up and sitting in a group with their friends from last year and I was just chilling by myself. But luckily, a girl who was an officer with me in Phi Alpha Delta during undergrad is in one of my classes so I instantly had a go-to person! This is why you should always try to join an organization people. 

A photo posted by Nikki ( on

But anyways now that I'm getting into the flow of school, I thought this would be a great time to set some goals for the semester. Last year I only had two goals: 1) don't drop out and 2) get good enough grades to transfer. While I accomplished both of these goals, they were a little too broad and I think I should've been a little more specific and set smaller goals that would help me achieve my overall goals. So that's what I'm going to do this semester! I'm sharing them with y'all to give you some inspiration to make your own goals and to have some accountability by making mine public. So here goes... 

fall '16 goals |

Read every case

I'll admit, last year I'd start off strong with this but then get sloppy as the weeks passed. I used Quimbee as a crutch instead of an aid and I know I shouldn't have been doing that. Reading someone else's briefs might get you by in general because they tell you the basics about a case, but sometimes you actually need to read them for yourself so that you can pick up on how it connects to the cases you read right before and after them.

My goal for this semester is to at least skim the cases at the bare minimum. I want to have a deeper understanding of my classes so that I will do more than just pass, I will be ahead of the curve. I know if I don't let myself cut corners now, it'll be easier when it comes time to study for the final.

Add highlights from the text to notes weekly

When I read through a casebook, I'll highlight in yellow concepts that I thought seemed important. My favorite part is when the professor tells us to highlight something in the book because we'll need to know it for the test, and I've already picked that out myself. This is why it's important to scarcely highlight only the major parts instead of highlighting everything. And what I don't have already highlighted that my professor mentions, I'll highlight it in pink so that later I know that he wants me to know it. 

Last year I waited until finals time to add all these notes to my texts, and by then I didn't really have time to incorporate much of that into what I was studying. So this semester I want to stay on top of this and add it to my notes every week. This will help me not forget these tidbits until right at the very end, and also help me not have a ton of prep work when it comes finals time.

Summarize each chapter after finishing it

One of my favorite professors last semester always said that, "The rate of learning has to exceed the rate of forgetting." This semester, I'm hoping to put my 20-color pen set to use and make a pretty one-page summary of what each chapter was about, studyblr style. 

My thoughts are that if I do this for each chapter, it will help me review what I just learned. Then by the time I need to study for finals, I also have this that I can go over as a quick reminder. I hope that after each time I finish a summary, I'll review my previous ones so that my rate of learning will exceed my rate of forgetting.

Update outlines bi-weekly

I truly believe in the power of outlines helping you memorize the crazy amount of information that you need to know. However, these can again be something that is easy to start strong on but trickles after a while. Last semester one of my friends invited me to go out of town as a last fun weekend before finals time, but I had to decline because I hadn't even started on my outlines and was starting to freak out.

This year my aim is to stay on top of my game. Not only that, but again I hope to use my colorful pens to make them. I know that statistically, you're more likely to remember something if you write it down, so hopefully this method of creating my outline will help compensate for me typing my notes. When it comes time for finals, I'll still type up what I've written over the course of the semester just so that I can clean it up a bit.

(here's a post on how to get started on outlines)

Review outlines bi-weekly

On my off weeks for updating my outlines, I want to review what I have so far to again exceed my rate of forgetting. I decided to work on my outlines in alternating weeks because really if you go to a class for only 2 days a week then you probably won't cover that much to add to your outline each week. By breaking it up I can focus on reviewing my outline without having to waste time updating it first. 

(btw, don't worry about getting started on your outlines until after like month because you just won't have enough to put in them yet anyways)

Update flashcards monthly

As I add rules to my outlines, I also want to be adding them to the flashcards I make on Quizlet. Again this is coming from experience after wasting two days of study time last semester just getting everything together to study. This also goes towards trying to study throughout the semester by repetition instead of trying to cram two weeks before finals. I don't really get that much information that I need to add to flashcards, so I feel like a once-a-month update/review will be a decent pace of studying throughout the year. 

Another reason why all of this repetition and early studying is important to me, is that last year when it was towards the end of the semester my professor asked me, "What other legal theory that we've learned about this year could the defendant argue?" I couldn't think of an answer off the top of my head because I'd already forgotten the obvious theory, and it was embarrassing when it seemed like everyone else raised their hand because they hadn't already forgot what we learned two months ago.

Keep an updated case list

Even if your professor tells you that he won't require you to cite to cases on a test, having a list with the main facts and rule of each case is still a good idea. Probably the biggest pro of this is that sometimes professors will give you hypotheticals on your tests that are very similar to a case that you've read. One thing that really sucks is when you recognize the fact pattern, but can't remember what the outcome was. Another thing that is that if you could mention that a hypo was similar to X case in your essay, that's a great way to snag a few points and inch up the curve

Because I don't necessarily need to have the cases memorized quite like I do for my outlines, I'm not so worried about doing this a ton throughout the semester. My goal is just to have it done so, again, I'm not real busy trying to prepare to study once it's finals time.

Speak up in at least one class a week

This one is hard for me because as a naturally shy person, my instinct is to sit there in class and let other students be the eager beavers and raise their hands. My main goal for this will just to be actively making myself participate in class and reminding myself not to sit idly by. It's easy for a class (or several) to fly by before you realize that you haven't talked in there once. 

I want to actively participate in class so that if I ever need a recommendation letter or something, my professors can say that I really tried for them. Another reason I want to work on this is that I want to answer the questions that I do know so that when it comes time for a question that I don't know, and the professor thinks I want to call on someone who hasn't spoken up in a while, I'll be blissfully off the radar. 

Final Thoughts

So, there you have my personal goals to make sure that I don't just survive this year, I thrive. If you have any other goals that you think I should consider adding, please let me know! I encourage you all to sit down and think about what you personally need to be doing to make sure that you're killing the law school game this semester!



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