Posted in How to study effectively, Uncategorized

How to study effectively

The mark of a successful student is the mastery of knowing, not only what to study; but also how to study it– says Patricia Mulcahy

How to Study and Take Notes

Summarize to yourself or another learner

Read the relevant textbook chapters or articles or ppts, or judgements.

Self Study Mantra: Use a mind-map or diagram

A mind-map is a powerful graphic technique to draw the learnt topic into the brain- because that is how the brain works. It uses words, images, drawn diagrams, number, logic, colour- of the topic. The brain can then process it; and get you knowledge and insights that you have built for yourself. This improves thinking and creativity.

EXAMPLE 1: (all borrowed images)

Human Rights Example:

ADR example:

7 Steps to Making a MindMap

  1. Start in the CENTRE of a blank page turned sideways.

Inline image 1

Why? Because starting in the centre gives your Brain freedom to spread out in all directions and to express itself more freely and naturally.

  1. Use an IMAGE or PICTURE for your central idea.

Inline image 2

Why? Because an image is worth a thousand words and helps you use your Imagination. A central image is more interesting, keeps you focussed, helps you concentrate, and gives your Brain more of a buzz!


  1. Use COLOURS throughout.

Inline image 3

Why? Because colours are as exciting to your Brain as are images. Colour adds extra vibrancy and life to your Mind Map, adds tremendous energy to your Creative Thinking, and is fun!

  1. CONNECT your MAIN BRANCHES to the central image and connect your second- and third-level branches to the first and second levels, etc.

Inline image 4

Why? Because your Brain works by association. It likes to link two (or three, or four) things together. If you connect the branches, you will understand and remember a lot more easily.

  1. Make your branches CURVED rather than straight-lined.


Why? Because having nothing but straight lines is boring to your Brain.



Why?  Because single key words give your Mind Map more power and flexibility.

  1. Use IMAGES throughout.

Why Because each image, like the central image, is also worth a thousand words. So if you have only 10 images in your Mind Map, it’s already the equal of 10,000 words of notes!

Use this method & let me know….library@


Write about your methods or experiences at LAW SCHOOL LEARNERS BLOG-

Posted in How to study effectively

How to read through a case


JoAnne A. Epps looks at the difference between everyday reading and reading for law school and offers advice on how to read through a case. Law teachers recommend reading to get an overview of the following aspects of each case:

  1. Outcome
  2. Elements of the Case
  3. Legal Concepts
  4. Evolution of Reasoning

Outcome: By knowing the outcome, you have a ready context for the reasoning. Although the suspense is gone, you know where the judge is going with his or her application of the rule.

Elements of the case: You’ve identified where the judge actually talks about the procedural history, facts, statement of rule, reasoning, holding, etc.  You should have an easier time going straight to a particular section in order to mentally brief a case.

Legal concepts: Instead of having each legal concept revealed to you one by one, you have the big picture ahead of time. A typical Contracts case, for example, might discuss many different rules all in the context of one issue. By knowing that three distinct rules come into play, you pinpoint the most relevant rule ahead of time.

Evolution of Reasoning: Typically, a judge will step through a case such that he or she cites the development of a rule from the common law through the debates in the legislature when the current law was originally passed. Some of this is superfluous for your purposes.

During the actual reading, it is recommended:

To identify the relevant sections and highlight the issue, rule, facts, analysis, policy, procedural history and other elements. Identify the elements with a notation in the margin. Some students use different colored highlighters to identify different elements. One color is used for the rule, another for the issue, and so on. This usually works well for highly visual people.

An example is given at:

How to Brief a Case

Another interesting way to study in groups:

The study group should be chosen not on the basis of who you think is the smartest, but whom you like as a person. The strength of the study group will ultimately be the relationships you develop with these people. In twenty years, the relationships you develop among study group members will matter far more than the material that you studied together.

Four to six people is a good size for a study group. Any more and you run the risk of getting diverted by too many questions. Any less and you won’t have the diversity of experience and opinion that lends to a good synthesis of the material.

The goal of your study group should be to create an outline together. Often the best time to meet is when you have finished one section of the course.  If every study group member has a laptop computer, you can each create an outline as you move through the material.

One strategy you want to avoid is the one used in the movie, The Paper Chase where each study group member outlined a different course, then traded outlines. In the movie, it was a disaster. In real life, it’s extremely risky to rely on someone else. Although that person might get it right for his point-of-view, it may not be presented in a way that is intuitive for you. If you take the approach of just helping each other with each course, you’ll move through the material more quickly and be more likely to catch each other’s errors.

Study groups can also be disasters when there is competition among the study group members. You have to remember that you are there to help one another. Even the brightest person will get some things incorrect that the others will pick up on.

Another danger in study groups is to get unfocused and start gossiping about fellow students, professors, politics, etc. This can turn into a great time-waster. When your purpose is to study, keep the peripheral stuff out of your session. If you find your study group is good as a psychological support system, then schedule additional fun things to do with your group.

You may recall Tonya Kowalski’s insights during her visit here in Aug 2015.

Image result for tonya kowalski