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Outlining Information - Showing Students That Outlining Is...

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Showing Students That Outlining Is Not a Foreign Activity By Patricia Grande Montana, St. John’s University of Law We tell law students that the best way to prepare for an examination is to write an outline of the course. We urge them to write their own, and not rely solely on a commercial one or another law student’s. The writing process itself is what forces them to review the course material, synthesize it, and then organize it into a coherent structure. This is essential to learning the doctrine and understanding its application in future cases, such as the ones presented on the exam. When law students use another’s outline exclusively, they miss out on this important step. Instead, they spend disproportionately more time memorizing the doctrine as arranged by the outline’s publishers than studying the material their professor emphasized and its application to real-world situations. Although we advise students of the benefits of creating their own outline, we do not give them enough guidance on how they should approach it. Because many law schools do not provide any formal
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