6.6 – Using Your Outline as a Study Aid


Using Outline as Study Aid

Using outline as only source of studying couple of days before exam

Assuming we're in the home stretch of studying, when maybe you're finished up with classes, you're in the process of getting ready to take exams, one thing that I think is going to be really, really useful to you is using your outline and really using it as a study guide. Assuming you have already done the outline, you have actually already at this point done 90% or 95% of the studying that you're going to do.

If you've built up that outline, you've gone through all the material, you've thought about it, you've integrated your notes. That's a huge part of your studying. But the outline is really going to be the thing that you're going to use at the very end of the process to really bring it on home, the idea being that, at that point, you have processed through your book, you've processed through your notes. You're not going to go back to that stuff. You're going to use your outline. It's just the thing that you're going to use to jog your memory. You're going to read through it the days immediately preceding your exam.

One thing I talked about previously, when I was talking about building a study schedule, when I was doing exams I always liked to make sure I had a couple or three days after I'd finished my outline, which I could really devote to just studying for my exams. In those days, I wouldn't spend much time looking back at the book. I would really just read through my outline, and if I had done a good enough job with my outline, the outline had enough stuff in it where, if I just read it and tried to keep that in my head, it was going to put me in a sufficiently good position to know what I needed to know for the exam.

I wasn't having to suddenly digest a thousand pages of material the day before the exam. Instead, I had already done the process of digesting the material and turning it into something more compact. Then we also talked a little bit on, when we talked about outlining, about how, in addition to building up maybe a larger outline, you would also distill the outline even further into a little flow chart or checklist, or something like that. That, I think, is also going to be a really helpful thing to study, to look at and try to remember. If it's an open-book exam, you'll be able to bring this stuff into the exam room with you, you'll be able to flip through your outline. You'll be able to look at your flow chart.

In a perfect world, you won't have to, even if it is an open-book exam. You will have spent enough time with it that you'll at least have the basic structure of the course in your head.

Maybe, if there's something that comes up, and as you're taking a timed exam, maybe there's some rule, you recognize a legal issue, but you're just like, "Oh, gosh. I forgot the legal rule." You'll be able to quickly open up your outline and find it in there, rather than trying to remember which class you read it for, and go back to your syllabus, and figure out what the reading was, and look at the cases. That's not going to be helpful for you. Ideally, you finish your outline, you print it up, and then you just read through it. That's the thing you're going to reread to really get ready rather than just rereading all of the cases, all the thousand pages or so that you were assigned for the class.

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