A prerequisite for acquiring and understanding legal expertise is good learning skills, ie learning effectively and efficiently. This competence is also very relevant for the profession, so that changes in specialist knowledge can be recorded quickly (keyword: lifelong learning).
Learning and understanding “for the long-term memory” requires completely different learning strategies for law studies than short-term learning before exams, which often takes place under time pressure, is demonstrably ineffective in the long term and is therefore also negatively referred to as bulimic learning. Law Mind may help students with any problems in studying law with its professional and experienced LNAT tutors. In order for knowledge to be retained in the long term and for a deep understanding to form, permanent nerve cell connections must form in the brain.
These links require attention and structured learning, which starts with the basic and basic knowledge and builds on the concrete legal regulation. Solid basic knowledge should not be confused with superficial knowledge. Only gradually can deeper knowledge be linked to it. Furthermore, repetitions are necessary for the creation of permanent connections in the brain.
For the long-term memory, material is only learned when it is repeated several times, usually at least three times, at increasing intervals (e.g. after 48 hours, after a week, after a month). Without a repeated stimulus, the connections in the brain simply fall apart again. The books from the series Check Your Knowledge are very suitable for repetition.
Learn actively for law school
It has been proven that material is retained faster and longer the more active learning activity one undertakes,
- by combining hearing and seeing,
- by structuring knowledge yourself in pictorial or schematic representations (e.g. in flow charts, schemes, overviews),
- by asking questions or trying to explain something to others.
In addition, the learning environment must be right – if the learning atmosphere is not right, the brain is distracted by the disruptive factors (noise, hunger, thirst, cold, heat). Regular breaks are also part of effective and efficient learning – the concentration curve decreases significantly after 45-60 minutes without you really noticing it.
A so-called mini-break of 5 to 10 minutes, in which you don’t mentally stray too far from the material, can significantly increase performance for the next 45-60 minute learning unit.
According to the findings of learning psychology, the brain also wants variety – this means that learning can work better if the learning topic is changed after two hours. Since the transfer of knowledge into the long-term memory takes place mainly at night during certain phases of deep sleep, it is beneficial if you get enough sleep after an intensive day of learning.
If you think intensively during the lecture and have understood what you have heard, it can therefore be better not to work on the material immediately after the lecture, but only the day after. Then the brain has already formed the first connections.
The factors mentioned (attention, structure, repetition, active learning, pictorial representation, learning atmosphere, breaks) are proven to promote learning. You have to try out how you can implement these factors individually in your learning behavior. Successful learning is therefore the sum of good individual strategies and as unique as your fingerprint.
Try it out and find your own learning strategy
There is no panacea. Therefore, many learning tips at the beginning of your studies are only to be understood as an incentive to bravely try them out. My favorite saying of unknown origin is: “Let someone help you out of the water or you will drown,” said the friendly monkey and safely placed the fish on a tree.
Observe yourself while you are learning and find out how you can personally work through the legal material well and sustainably in such a way that you can fall back on a basic knowledge base at the end of the semester.
Legal analysis and the joint development of a solution can be learned very well in a private working group. However, this does not work by itself. There is further literature on which points you should consider when setting up and running such a private working group.
Sustainable learning also includes good personal knowledge management. This means that you store learning content in a way that you can easily access it later.
Fundamental rights will accompany you throughout your studies of public law – it makes no sense to record detailed knowledge of fundamental rights every semester and thus spread them out in numerous folders. In the first year of study, think about how you want to prepare and store your knowledge for later.
Case processing – an important topic in law studies
When systematically developing areas of law, the learning objective “problem-solving skills in case processing” must always be observed. Extensive knowledge is almost worthless if it cannot be methodically applied correctly in the exam and later in professional practice.
It makes sense to ask yourself every time you mark something in the textbook, with every excerpt of knowledge, to which legal regulation this knowledge relates and what role it can play in solving a problem in a case study.
Many students could give excellent presentations on the content they read or would do well in knowledge tests. However, this is not asked for in law school exams (and often later in practice). Because of the amount of material, many students forget the independent case training, which also includes training the analysis of the facts.
Case training means the written or at least oral formulation of a case solution and not the ticking off of requirements with “(+) or (-)”. Many students observe the teachers working on the case for a semester and trust that they could also develop these solution steps themselves and then formulate them in the exam will be successful. This is a fallacy.
The driver’s license will also not be passed if candidates switch from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat at the moment of the driving test. My recommendation is to train regularly in formulating a convincing, methodically correct case solution on paper and to improve your ability to express yourself in language. You will learn how to develop legal opinions and defend them convincingly. Then read your solution aloud. How does that sound? Do you find yourself convincing? Are there still gaps in your argument?