This week, we want to expand on something that we mentioned in our last post: independent learning. While there are many resources at OCU to help you navigate law school and many people eager to support your efforts, the person ultimately responsible for your success is you. Law school will require you to be an independent learner, someone who self-monitors for comprehension and exercises the self-discipline to complete the outside work necessary to improve their knowledge and skills.

Unlike what many students experience in undergrad, completing your reading and attending class is not enough to master the material or develop the skills required to excel on final exams. Reading and attending class – while extremely important – is merely the first step. It’s the bare minimum. To really excel, you must go over and above these basic activities. Going over and above will require you to take control of your own learning and spend significant amounts of time outside of class practicing your skills and teaching yourself the law. Consider incorporating the following activities into your study schedule to make sure you’re going over and above.

  1. Review – Don’t walk out of class and immediately move on to the next topic. Instead, review your notes so that you can solidify your understanding and clarify any confusing areas while the material is still fresh in your mind.
  2. Outline – At least once a week, review your outline and update it with any new material. As you’re outlining, make sure you’re recording the details and nuance of each rule while also organizing the material in a way that displays the proper relationships between concepts.
  3. Assess Your Comprehension – Throughout the semester, you should frequently test whether you truly understand the concepts or whether you merely have the illusion of knowing. To assess your comprehension, complete practice multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. While you should be completing additional practice problems outside of class, seriously preparing for the Legal Analysis practice exams is also a great opportunity to self-test.
  4. Get Clarification – If you’re struggling with a concept after reviewing your notes, having trouble outlining some new material, or finding practice problems difficult, get help right away. Getting clarification as soon as you encounter a confusing concept, rather than waiting until the end of the semester, is always the best strategy. You can seek clarification from trustworthy supplements, study groups, professors, or the Department of Academic Achievement!
  5. Practice Good Time Management – Merely reading, attending class, and completing your homework assignments for LRW, Legal Analysis, and skills sessions will take up a large chunk of your week. In order to incorporate additional independent learning activities, you’ll have to practice good time managing and avoid procrastinating. Make sure you have a good study schedule and stick to it, or you can easily get behind.

These are a few of the activities outside of class that successful students often incorporate into their routines, but the most important part of being an independent learner is monitoring your own progress and making changes that will specifically benefit your learning style. Take every opportunity you can to evaluate your comprehension, assess your progress, and make adjustments that will benefit you.