Study aids are a useful resource to enhance your learning. Study aids help students gain more information about a legal topic and consider scenarios that test their understanding of that topic. Study aids also help by providing an overview of a legal subject that shows how all of the concepts fit together. Study aids are a poor substitute for reading the casebook, briefing the material, attending lectures, and reviewing throughout the semester. Although study aids present an overview of the law, this may be oversimplified and omit many of the details on which readings, class lectures, and exams focus.
Professors or peers who have taken a course may be able to help students identify the best study aid for each course. One study aid per course is likely sufficient. More than one means students spend valuable time reviewing multiple sources and may cause confusion when study aids present the same material differently.
There are many different types of study aids that may be beneficial depending on your needs. Some study aids, like hornbooks, subject summaries, and outlines are useful throughout the semester to familiarize yourself with concepts as you discuss them in class. These aids can help you review topics as you study for finals as well. Case briefs provide a framework for your classroom learning and give you a commercial brief to compare your briefing style against. Other study aids are helpful for information retention as you approach finals. Exam review and flashcards are two ways to review large amounts of information quickly. As you become familiar with study aids, you may gravitate towards a certain style of supplement or vary the supplement style for different courses depending on your needs.
Hornbooks are the most scholarly type of study aid. Hornbooks are frequently written by legal scholars and include citations to leading cases, statutes, and other secondary sources. Hornbooks provide a very detailed discussion of a point of law. These study aids are a useful resource when you are beginning a research project or need an in-depth discussion of a particular topic. Among the hornbook series are Concepts and Insights, Concise Hornbook, and Student Treatise.
Subject summaries provide a concise narrative of an area of law, and they are typically written by experts in the field. Summaries are a good resource when you are beginning a new topic. Many include sample questions and can also help you refresh your memory before exams. Some subject summaries are detailed while others provide a broad overview. Reference librarians are happy to discuss which series may be most useful depending on your needs. Examples & Explanations, Glannon Guides, ...In a Nutshell, Short and Happy Guides, and Inside series feature this type of summary.
Subject outlines present a descriptive framework of basic legal principles. Outlines explain rules and provide the theory behind them. These may be cross-referenced to a specific casebook. Subject outlines may be helpful before beginning a new topic in class or in preparing for exams, but do not contain sufficient detail to replace the outlining process. Black Letter Outlines, Gilbert Law Summaries, and Emanuel Law Outlines are all subject outline series.
Case briefs outline the cases included in major casebooks. These materials help you compare your analysis to commercially available case briefs and strengthen your ability to analyze cases when used as a supplement to your own briefing. High Court Case Summaries, Legallines, and Casenote Legal Briefs series are case brief formats.
Exam reviews primarily consist of sample essays and multiple-choice questions and answers. These are most helpful when preparing for exams and learning exam-taking skills. Exam reviews do not contain the substance of a course and are most useful to test knowledge of a large amount of information before an exam. If your professor makes past exams available, these give a better sense of an individual instructor's exam style and may prove more helpful than commercial exam reviews. Exam Pro and Finals: Law School Exam series are commercial exam reviews. The Acing and Emanuel CrunchTime series take a slightly different format by providing flowchart-style checklists to show students how to analyze questions.
Flashcards help some students remember a large amount of information quickly. These cards provide a question on one side and a brief answer on the other. Repeated use of flashcards can help with information retention, but these offer a very simplistic overview of the law.
Study aids from audio series offer an alternative method for retaining information. Some students find these auditory supplements helpful to review information while commuting, working out, or participating in other activities. Sum and Substance, Law School Legends, and In Other Words series are all audio formats.
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