Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guest Blog Post: Time Management Tips for Surviving Law School

Time management is critical to success in law school.

It’s a plainly obvious fact, but it really can’t be overemphasized. And for many, it’s always surprising how time just seems to slip away between the first day of class and the final exam.

There is no question that you will arrive on test day feeling unprepared at least once during your law school career, but the level of panic this will cause can be mitigated by using your time wisely.

Here are a few tips to make sure you make the most of your time in law school.

1. Start Strong and Stay Strong

Letting your GPA slide during your 1L year can be a motivation-breaking mistake. All but a few law schools post rankings in the law school, and you will get to see where you stand in comparison to your peers following your first semester.

Starting out at the bottom of this list can be a psychologically trying experience. The best thing you can do is thoroughly prepare from the very beginning and start off strong. This will give you a cushion for when things start to get more difficult, as well as inspire you and give you confidence.

2. Properly Evaluate Your Reading Assignments

You can expect to get anywhere from between 50-100 pages of reading for each class during a full-time week of classes. This is not suggested reading – this is how you will learn the subject matter.

It probably goes without saying that you will not cruise through this material like a John Grisham novel. This is dense reading that may require you to reread, highlight and take notes. In short, reading that 50 pages may take longer than you think.

Budget your time accordingly, because actually reading the assignments will keep you on pace for the information being taught in class.

At the very least, it will save you from being utterly embarrassed if you get called on by the professor.

3. Avoid Cramming for Tests

You will be surprised and disturbed by how much information you will cover for a single class in one semester. Now, imagine multiplying that by as much as six. This will give you an idea of how much you need to be able to recall during an average exam week.

If you think you are going to digest this information in the days or even weeks before your exams, you are likely mistaken. It’s true there are tips, tricks, study aids and outlines out there designed to help you, but none of this compares to actually learning the material.

Think about it this way: if you know it, you won’t be recalling the information as much as applying it to fact patterns presented in the exams. Instead of spending time trying to learn memorization tricks, just learn the law.

These three tips can be summed up in one bitter pill: if you spend all of your time studying you will do better than if you fritter it away having fun. That said, fun is important, too, and you should enjoy law school as much as possible. Just make sure you do your work first.

This guest post was written by James Madeiros, staff writer at Criminal Justice Degree Schools, a free resource site providing information on criminal justice degrees and careers.

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