How do you get through all your law school reading (and more importantly, retain it)? Here are my top tips for you to absorb those legal words like a dry sponge absorbs water.
The short answer is…
I recall my time at law school where I never, ever, got through all the required reading on time. This is totally normal. No one, except for the 1% freak variety actually gets through all their readings.
However – if I had a chance to go back in time, I would certainly do things differently. My top tips are based on seeing what others have done over time and what I personally found worked best.
These are the four things I would do for non-fiction reading:
1. Skim first
There is nothing like a good skim read to get your juices flowing. When you’re reading for reasons other than pleasure, sometimes a bit of a spoiler can do more good than evil. On a more serious note, skimming a text is about working out where the important bits are and identifying what you should be focusing on.
2. Think about what you’re trying to achieve
Have a goal or #goals. At a basic level, they would include the following:
- What are you trying to understand from the text?
- What are the gaps in your knowledge?
- World domination (not really).
3. Mark the important bits
As you read, highlight and/or put a sticky tab (preferably paper for environmental and practical reasons) next to any important points. I tend to scribble short notes on the sticky tab so that I can revisit the point. Please don’t try to be perfect here. Your focus should be on engaging with the words on the page.
4. Time for recap
At the end of your reading, go back through your sticky tabs and highlighting to revise what you’ve read. At this point, your brain should be working furiously to draw links between the various bits of information that you’ve read. Some things you can do to help this process along:
- Summarise your understanding by making short, dot point notes on a separate piece of paper (that you can conveniently attach to the front of the text for later reference)
- Without your notes, be able to verbally explain in 1-2 sentences what you’ve read to another person (preferably someone who has not already read the text in question)
- Check whether your understanding has altered before and after reading.