Condensing outlines is crucial for your law school success. In order to attack your finals in a timely and orderly manner, you simply cannot be paging back and forth furiously in a fight against time. You must be calm, cool & methodical during your exam: here are some tips to have your outline contribute. This article assumes that like most law students, you have collected several outlines from various sources for each course.

1. Attack each section one at a time, across multiple outlines

Law students tend to be very frenetic in preparing for finals. After all, you are attacking a paper tiger, altogether intimidating and illusory. To that end, when you are condensing your outlines into one awesome, completely bad-ass ultra outline, you need to do so methodically. Attack one section (say, Ancillary Jurisdiction in Civil Procedure), read each outline’s treatment of that section, and create your own.

2. Write your own outline

Putting pen to paper also helps the law student in coalescing the information in his or her mind. Merely copying and pasting from another outline will be much quicker, to be sure; but what have you really learned in doing so? When you take the information contained in your outlines (and indeed, in your supplements) and put them in your own words, you are forcing yourself to thinking critically about what you’ve read, and make executive decisions about what goes into your outline, and what is cut. Remember: you transcribe like you think. The last thing you’ll want on exam day is to have to try to comprehend what Joe Law Student ’05 meant when he was explaining to himself the Eric Doctrine flowchart.

3. Plug in any knowledge gaps with your supplement material

This may sound obvious, but law students in November are known to have spastic memories. Don’t just compile the information from three outlines and assume that you have all you need. Go through the supplements that you’ve purchased and make sure that everything that needs to be addressed has indeed been addressed.

4. Outline in the following format

Each student is different, but this serves as a basic framework for your outline. This is an example from my torts outline: condense all the relevant information into the concept > subconcept > Black Letter Law > Example [if necessary] > Exceptions [if necessary] format.