Good Friday morning!
Same disclaimer this time: if you’re not a fellow law student, this post will be uninteresting and law-nerdy, but I again promise I’ll be back to my usual adventure-blogging, kid-bragging, right-bashing, food-porning self on my next post!
A friend commented on my last post, and I then tried to comment on the comment. WordPress was rude enough to tell me that my comment was too long, so I had to resort to an entirely new post. Thank you, WordPress, but I’LL decide when I’ve talked too much!
Here’s Kayla’s comment:
First off, congratulations!! Having sat there through that test, i know what a dragon it was to slay so i commend you for doing it on the first shot! And enjoy the free books in 3L Secondly, thank you for taking the time to lay out how you succeeded! Since i, unfortunately was not successful, i really enjoy hearing how others made it work for them…i have two months to re-prepare and am working thru 2L now, so hearing that it can be done is inspirational. I know that your blog is aimed towards a general audience, so any more detailed advice you have for this next go around would be highly appreciated again, congrats! And keep rocking it out thru 2l and beyond!
Thanks so much for your comment. I’m happy to tell you anything I can about what worked for me. I mentioned in the first blog that it’s limited to just that, and that I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what might work for them. My undergraduate degree is in education, and while there are some fundamentals about learning that are universal, our backgrounds and experiences all influence how we learn and retain information.
Here’s more detail about what happened with me. About halfway through 1L, I was getting the usual 65’s, and while I accepted that that was an average grade, I didn’t seem to be improving, and Concord’s guidance was…you guessed it, “Keep working on IRAC”.
(I even joked, any time an essay was due back from being graded, about making a drinking game out of how many times they would say that! It cheeses me off because I think that’s a technical skill that a) is relatively simple to pick up, and b) is simple to refine once you have the skill to properly analyze the fact pattern. However, I’m the student and they are the professors, and as a couple of them read my blog, I’ll keep my commentary to a dull roar, and trust that the years and years that Concord and its professors have been teaching have allowed them to refine the teaching process to be as successful as possible.)
Anyway, because my progress seemed to be so flat, I researched some outside sources and found, with my study buddies, the Checklist-type program I mentioned in the blog. It held appeal because of the endorsement of so many students, both in their school exams and on the FYLSE. I committed to it, paid the money for the books and the program, and implemented this Checklist as a way to issue-spot the tests. I used that system all the way through finals in December (I’m in the class that had 6 months between the final and the FYLSE), but as I began studying intensely for the test in February, I began to realize that memorizing a checklist and really, truly understanding the material were 2 vastly different things.
So I scratched the whole program and started redoing my outlines based on the Concord First lectures. I rewrote rule statements and restructured all my outlines. I listened to the lecture over and over, and did assloads of MCQs (how much in an assload? about 1500, I guess). And then it got really weird, but if you know me at all, no big surprise. My kids are grown and I live by myself, but fortunately I have an old golden retriever and a young bulldog, so I could always claim I was talking to them. I would verbally, formally explain different topics, as if I was trying to get someone to understand who didn’t know anything about them (and neither of my dogs even has so much as an undergraduate degree, so they cooperated beautifully). Something about trying to articulate, say, every aspect of an offer, for example, really made me have to have a deep and thorough understanding of what an offer is, and every exception and detail about it. It was a technique I learned through years of teaching, both at the public school level and in my personal training practice. If you don’t understand something well enough to explain it, you don’t understand it. That one exercise immediately revealed the holes in my understanding about a topic, and while it was important to the essay writing, I think it was even more important with the MCQ’s because that’s where the real substantive testing takes place.
On the mechanical side, I also wrote out my rule statements, one subject at a sitting, about 2x a week in the month leading up to the test. That was clearly a skill for the essay writing; those rule statements practically typed themselves by the time of the test. I’m kind of a data junkie, so after writing them each time (using 90+ minutes in the beginning, <45 after a few times), I graded them (with red font – once a teacher, always a teacher) and wrote the number of major errors and minor errors on my dry-erase progress chart. (Are you gaining a deeper understanding of why I live alone?)
As I said before, I did every quiz and every essay I could in CF, and listened to the lectures several times. The last month I even listened to them as I was going to sleep at night, and would start another if I woke up and couldn’t sleep. (Funny story about that, Kayla, that I’ll tell you sometime after a beer or two). But I’ll repeat here that the number 1 thing that helped me the most was listening to Prof. Bracci debrief all the past FYLSX essays. There were in module 28 of Concord First. As I listened to them, I made little tickmarks by the issue on my outline that was tested in that essay (ask me if the tickmarks were color-coded). The second most important thing was probably compressing my 2L modules so I could study only 1L in the 4 weeks leading up to the test. The payoff for that was both during those 4 weeks, and then when I restarted 2L in July after the test and was right on schedule.
I know I’ll think of some more stuff – I’ll try to just inbox you if I do. If you have any specific questions, just email or IM me or whatever social network works for you. This was probably waaaaaaay more info than you asked for – maybe WordPress knew what it was talking about.
Good luck and let me know if I can help. Insert not-helpful cliche here about how smart you are, and how hard the test is, and how everyone will be pulling for you, blahblahblah. You are, it is, we will. Get this done.
As always, thanks for reading.