Are you a law student struggling with yet another law exam? If you feel like catapulted into a nightmare with no escape at all times, in this article you will find some strategies that will make your study more effective.
When we talk about how to study law we are approaching a vast and rich world of specializations.
On the other hand, even without being an expert, it is clear that studying civil law is different from studying commercial law, and tax law is not exactly like company law! As if that were not enough, these juridical subjects are present in different faculties, from Law to Economics.
In short, a nice mess for those who, like me, are trying to find some ideas on how to study law better and more quickly, which can be valid for all interested parties.
Anyway, banishment to discouragement!
Even in the face of this jagged and intricate landscape, I have tried to draw a summary of the most effective ways to help your brain memorize legal information more easily, to understand how to study these topics well and quickly.
At this point we see the advice on how to study law …
1) Plan and organize
Let’s start with a premise: if you want to succeed in the study of law, you don’t have to study more, but smarter!
As a law student, a key part of your job will be to determine how and where to allocate your time and energy.
After all, planning is an integral part of an effective study method.
So before proceeding to the passionate but disorganized reading of the teaching material, try to know your “battle” field. Browse the books, read the titles of the chapters and the introductions, focused on what might be the most important concepts, creates connections.
That being said, what is the secret of truly effective planning? Establish in advance how much time you will spend on each exam. Such as? Try to multiply the credits for 10/15 hours of study, as explained in this article.
This will allow you to split your sessions in a balanced way, avoiding concentrating the study hours close to the exam.
2) Identify and exploit the keywords
Not all words have the same importance, and this is especially true in law!
So try to highlight the keywords you find in the book or in the lecture notes by using different colors. In this way you will stimulate your brain to remember the most important information.
To do this, I suggest you first read the whole chapter (or a sub-chapter or a paragraph, depending on the length) and then highlight the key words that seem most important to you, the real “pins” of the whole topic you just read.
It is a trivial but incredibly effective way to impress keywords into your brain that will form the basis on which to build your most specific and detailed thoughts.
3) Create links and mind maps
Emphasizing keywords with different colors is not only important to more effectively fix the most significant information in your mind. It will also be very useful for the next step: “train” your mind to make connections between the concepts of greater relevance.
Try playing a game: randomly extract two key words from those you highlighted, “challenging yourself” to try to understand how they can be linked. In this way your brain will be stimulated to improve the capacity of memorization and connection, creating mind maps … even before putting them black and white.
Now, given that we have just mentioned them, let’s get mental maps into play, tools that will be very useful in the study of law to visually connect concepts and ideas.
The main problem, especially in the study of these disciplines, is the fact that the connections in mind mapping are generally more “dense” than other subjects. You could then get yourself anxious to bring back to the mind maps an enormous amount of information, enough to end the space available in the sheet!
Many people fall into this mistake, but remember that the purpose of mind maps is not to put the entire book on paper in the form of a map, but to help you better assimilate the subject and stimulate your memory.
Are you not clear how to make an effective mind map? Then read the article in which Andrea explained the difference between mind maps and concept maps.
4) Use the best memorization techniques
Let’s say it clear and round: mechanically repeating is of no use. Perhaps you will have the illusion of learning concepts using the “short term memory”, but rest assured that as soon as the professor asks you to think about what you have studied, your certainties will collapse.
Let me be clear, your goal is NOT to repeat, but DO NOT repeat mechanically, just so you can really assimilate the information.
Here are two strategies you can apply right away …
- Follow a mental review sequence, structured in a quick review (max 5 minutes) of the topics learned every 20 minutes, followed at the end of the day by a longer review (10 minutes) of the studied topics, perhaps helping you with concept maps. Finally, after 3 days, make a final, more extensive review (15 minutes) of the concepts studied;
- Repeat mantras that can increase your awareness that you can remember. Before each mental review, convince yourself that you will remember the material, want to remember the material, repeat the material once clearly, order your brain to remember how much you studied and relate to the material only once. It works!
After that, try strengthening your storage capacity with audiobooks. Have you ever used them?
I think they are a very useful opportunity to study when you don’t have the chance to exploit anything other than hearing. Think about when you’re on the bus or the train, or when you’re taking a nice, rejuvenating walk. What’s better than optimizing these moments with a nice review?
The challenge I want to offer you today is a bit different: create your own personalized audiobooks.
Doing it is very simple! The next time you need to prepare a law exam, try recording your voice while you’re repeating. In doing so, help yourself with books, notes and schemes. Your goal must be to make a very thorough first repetition, to be used as an “audio” for your review.
At this point you will be able to listen to the recording whenever you want, making use of the hours you spend in the gym or in public transport, or maybe at lunch break!
5) Study with other colleagues
The law study group can give you the opportunity to discuss educational material, discuss legal concepts and practical cases, insights, perspectives and unique knowledge.
But be careful to keep your study group not too large, ideally between 3 and 5 students, and try to choose its components so that they are sufficiently prepared for your level of study, and that they have goals similar to yours.
In any case, group study sessions should not last more than two or three hours. Otherwise, they would end up turning into social ramblings that could be happy, but certainly not to prepare a law exam!
I hope these strategies can help you study law. If you want to talk about it, use the space between the comments.