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Legal Research Skills

Note Taking and Exams

The notes you take from your readings and your lectures should be organised around major topics and key points so that they can be easily summarised as 'memory-triggers' for exam revision.

  • As you finish a topic, try combining your notes using a comparative table in columns. Examples of column headings could be "key points", "key cases" and "legislation".

  • You may prefer to use a mind-mapping system - one section for topics, linked to cases and legislation. To save yourself time at the end of semester, plan your note-taking carefully from the beginning.

  • Try out different note-taking styles to see which you like most, then combine and update information on a regular basis.

The advantages to this are that you are summarising, using your own words and constantly reinforcing your own understanding. These combined summaries will form the basis of your exam summaries.

For a more detailed discussion of the close relationship between good note-taking and exam success, read Claire Macken, Law Student Survival Guide:9 Steps to Law Study Success (ThomsonReuters, 2nd ed, 2010).

Note Taking examples

What this short video on notetaking.

Hand written or typed notes?  Watch this short video.  The answer may surprise you.  

Note Taking Methods

Learn more about the different methods of note taking.

  1. The Cornell Method - (James Madison University)
  2. The Outline Method - (Massey University, New Zealand)
  3. The Mapping Method - (Massey University, New Zealand)
  4. The Charting Method - (Massey University, New Zealand)
  5. The Sentence Method - (Massey University, New Zealand)

Suggested Reading

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