Study smart, not hard! Many lawyers say that learning how to study smart is critical to surviving law school successfully. Therefore, it is essential to determine how many hours in the day should be devoted to studying.
Most law student knows that their grades are the most significant indicator of where they will get employment after law school; thus, they always aim for a high GPA. Targeting a high GPA is one of the main reasons law students devote a certain number of hours in the day to study.
While a high GPA is the priority of every law student, it is not his only goal. Studying law provides a vast and broad opportunity to acquire knowledge. The content of the study of law focuses on preparing a would-be lawyer for a specific career path.
Grade Point Average (GPA) is a number that shows the average score of a student. This number is used to evaluate whether a student has met the expectations and standards set by the university or degree program.
Why a High GPA Matters in Law School?
Most law schools have a 4.0 GPA computed as Total Quality Points) / Total Credit Hours. The grade earned by a law student in each class has a Quality Point value as follows:
A = 4.0
A- = 3.67
B+ = 3.33
B = 3.0
B- = 2.67
C = 2.0
D = 1.0
F = 0.0
Failed subjects are counted as part of the GPA, but subjects marked as “S” are not counted as part of the computation of the GPA.
A law student’s GPA is computed at the end of each semester by adding up the quality points of each subject and dividing them by the total credit hours for the semester.
The GPA impacts a law student in two ways:
Eligibility for Academic and Financial Aid
Requirements for Academic and Financial Aid eligibility vary by law school, and it is based on their academic policies. Your GPA, however, may affect your entitlement to:
• Maintain awards for merit scholarship
• Apply for other scholarship opportunities
• Other privileges while in law school
• Graduate from law school
Incoming law students who qualified for Academic and Financial Aid are usually briefed about these requirements during the new student orientation.
Your GPA is essential when you apply for a legal internship and a job. While your GPA is essential, some prospective employers analyze why you had a low GPA.
•Was your GPA affected by a low grade in one subject even if you had higher grades in other topics?
•Did you study more the next semester and improved your GPA?
Many probable employers appreciate that moving forward, you worked toward self-improvement.
A low GPA is not the end of the road because it can be compensated by significant work experience such as internships while still in law school. You also gain bonus points if you take advantage of multiple clinical opportunities and externships.
Every law student should take their GPA seriously because it really does matter. It is the first thing most prospective employers look for in your resume.
Most reputable and high-end law firms will always give a high weight on your GPA. A lower GPA may not make you their first choice.
Again, a lower GPA is not the end of the road, but it matters a lot!
Dedication and studying smart are the best ways to get a high GPA in law school.
How many Hours Should a Law Student Study?
Law schools have a famous image of having an overwhelming classroom environment and an even more overwhelming study schedule – mostly reading loads of books.
So how many hours should a law student spend studying? Here is what the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), of the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, has to say based on their 2017-2018 school year survey.
• A full-time law student, on average, spends about 18.6 hours per week to read and be ready for class.
• A part-time student, who usually has a lighter course load, on average, spends about 15.7 hours per week to read and be ready for class.
First-year law students spend more time reading and be ready for class than upper-level students. It usually takes a first-year full-time law student 21.7 hours per week to read and be prepared for class. On the other hand, a third-year full-time law student spends, on average, about 18.3 hours per week to read.
Reading law books is just one aspect of the studying schedule of a law student. They also have other non-reading preparations for each class. These usually include doing homework and trial presentations.
A full-time law student logs in about 11.0 hours per week and a part-time student about 10.2 hours per week on non-reading activities.
However, most law professors say that you should study for at least 2 hours for every hour of class. For example, you have a 3 ½ hour per week class for Criminal Law, Contracts, and Tort. This means you should study for 7 hours per week for each subject or a total of 21 hours per week.
While full-time students efficiently manage the number of hours needed to study, it can be a challenge for part-time students (working and parents). Most of the time, they allow a few hours to study in the morning before work and put in more hours to study on days when they do not have classes.
Law students have been creative with their study schedules, especially the part-timers. Parents and working students are usually able to squeeze in some reading during their lunch breaks. Parents also tend to do some reading while watching over their kids.
How to Study Smart?
Study smart, not hard! There is an enormous difference between studying smart and studying hard. Studying smart is more efficient, eliminates stress, and produces the best results. Studying hard leaves a student over-tired and ill-prepared. Studying hard is characterized by cramming and sleepless nights to study and complete assignments.
Law students should study smart so that they can maximize their studying hours. Law students, after all, do not live to only study.
Studying smart includes adopting techniques and strategies that help maximize the learning process’s effectiveness and the acquisition of knowledge.
Here are some techniques for studying smart, increasing your GPA, and preparing for a successful career in law.
Do not Fall Behind with your reading.
Make it a point to complete are your assigned readings on time. It may be challenging to catch up if you fall behind and may result in cramming, which means you will need to study hard.
Regularly Attend your Classes
Class discussions are based on assigned readings. There are, however, instances when your law profession will share materials and concepts that are not in the readings. You will, therefore, miss some vital information if you do not regularly attend your classes.
Be Prepared for Class
Arrive prepared for every class. This means you should have completed all assigned readings and completed assignments for your class. Arriving ready also means you have notes from your readings and case briefs.
Taking notes does not mean you should write down every word your professor says. Your records should include new materials and concepts shared by your professor. It should also include analysis and explanations that may enhance your understanding of your readings. Take notes but also pay attention to your professor and participate in the discussion.
Participate in Class Discussions
It is crucial to participate in class discussions. Being engaged in the learning process is the best learning experience for law students. Prepare for class so you can actively participate in class discussions.
Prepare an Outline for your Class
Prepare a weekly or monthly course outline for each of your classes. This will help you master the subject matter and learn how the rules of law are related.
Prepare a Brief for Each Case
Take notes as you read each assigned case. Prepare a summary and analysis so you can participate in class discussions. To prepare a case brief, find the legal issues, and understand the court’s decision.
Avoid Procrastination and Cramming
Law school condemns procrastination and cramming. Cramming or waiting until the last minute to do your readings or start reviewing is a perfect recipe for failing or getting low grades. The best method to get good grades is to review your notes throughout the semester frequently.
Create a Study Plan
If you have a study plan, there is enough time to read, study, and review. If you do not have a study plan, there are never enough hours in the day to study. As a law student, you must use your time effectively and efficiently.
Join a Study Group
Most law students join a study group because it provides a venue to discuss readings and cases with one another. Study groups allow law students to discuss amongst themselves law concepts, course materials, and court cases to increase their understanding of the rule of law. Joining study groups also enhances retention of the subject matter.
Study groups should never be used as social gatherings. Time spent on study groups should be maximized for learning and should only last for two to three hours at the most.
Everyone knows law school is competitive. When you decided to enter law school, you were aware that you would be in for a lot of reading and studying. Your primary focus should be a high GPA and acquiring the knowledge and skill about the rule of law to have a successful law practice.
How many hours should a law student study? The formula says two hours for every hour credit per course. Study smart and reduce the number of hours you need to study or study smart so you get to study more.