In order to make sure that you are able to keep up with assessments and exam preparation, it is a good idea to being using a study schedule early in the semester. Creating a schedule will take about 15 minutes, but the benefits are immense. The process is simple:
- Write all of your regular commitments into a timetable like the one below
- Brainstorm all of the different study tasks that you will have in a typical week for each subject. These can be quite general, and would include things like doing your readings, preparing answers to hypotheticals, completing assessments and preparing for exams.
- Assign an importance to each of the tasks – this is purely subjective and there is no right or wrong answer, it is merely a useful way of ensuring that you are prioritising the right things.
- Allocate each of the tasks a certain amount of time that will be necessary to complete them.
- Spend about 10 minutes writing the tasks into the timetable.
In past years students have had difficulty prioritising their time, which means they often fail to do readings when completing mid-semester assessments, leading to difficulty later in the semester. The additional time spent on the mid-semester assessments is often not reflected in the quality of the assessments, which indicates that time is not being effectively used.
Planning your study goals may not seem particularly important – however, research has shown that setting goals appropriately (see below) is crucial to successful study, and you should set aside time to do this regularly.
Bear in mind that this timetable is merely indicative, and you will likely need to make adjustments to it throughout semester to ensure that you are keeping up with your work.
Be realistic in your schedule. Don’t forget to account for meals and regular breaks. You will also need to consider which of these days are tied up with work, class or regular social commitments.
Don’t forget to include extra-curricular activities in your schedule. It is really important to maintain a social life outside of law school. Sporting activities are particularly important in this regard.
An example schedule might look like this:
- An empty, downloadable version of the schedule above can be found here.
- Some more free, printable weekly planners are available here.
- Bear in mind that the maximum amount of time that a person can work effectively without a break is about 90 minutes. Students need to take this into account when planning, as readings will often take much longer than this. See, eg http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/opinion/sunday/relax-youll-be-more-productive.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&