Helpful Study Aids for Spring Courses

As finals approach, study aids are again in high demand. It’s easy to see why. Although study aids make a poor replacement for casebooks and other required materials, they can be a tremendously helpful tool for exam-prep purposes. They provide concise and highly organized reviews of topics covered in the typical law school course on the subject. The best ones also give students some valuable practice for their analytical skills. But with so many study aids out there, featuring differing formats and uses and often featuring very stark differences in quality, how can you know you’re choosing the best one?

Let’s try to answer this question while looking at a few of the best study aids for this semester’s 1L offerings. We’ll talk about what makes them worthy and how you might use them. This will also give us a nice opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the various study aid formats and series you’ll encounter.

Examples & Explanations for Property (online/physical)

The E&E series provides an accessible course overview while also foregrounding the important skill of legal analysis. It does this by structuring the entire discussion around the titular examples, a format that proves to be especially well-suited for explaining future estates and other similarly knotty concepts from Property Law. Indeed, this title’s analysis of these hypotheticals evokes the common law methods of legal analysis at the heart of this core doctrinal course. This helps to make the supplement truly feel like an extension of the classroom discussion.

The Glannon Guide to Civil Procedure (online/physical)

The author’s CivPro E&E (online/physical) is an absolute classic, but don’t sleep on this one either. Glannon Guides have a similar focus on analysis and application, but here it’s in the form of multiple-choice questions. After each one, Professor Glannon patiently explains the right (and wrong) answers in conversational prose that helps demystify this oft-convoluted area of law. The overall format works especially well for the more FRCP-driven aspects of Civil Procedure.

Principles of Contract Law (Concise Hornbook Series) (online/physical)

If you’re chiefly after a bird’s eye view of the course, there are many study aids designed with just that in mind. However, in my experience, NutshellsShort & Happy Guides, and the like don’t provide enough detail or nuance to be truly useful. They can help you learn basic concepts and doctrines quickly, but that’s about it.

The Concise Hornbook Series provides a nice (if less concise) alternative. Like other titles in the series, Principles of Contract Law provides an overview of the major course topics. However, it keeps many of the doctrinal subtleties intact. Believe me, those subtleties will come in quite handy when asked to apply those doctrines to a novel fact pattern on an exam.  

Sum & Substance: Criminal Law (online)

Audio study aids like the Sum & Substance series are a convenient resource for busy law students. It’s easy to multitask with these, to simply put them on in the background during a commute or while housekeeping, and efficiently absorb a tidy little overview of one of your law school courses.

Here, Professor Dressler endeavors to be your “tour guide” for Criminal Law, splitting the lectures into a series of audio tracks that are mostly quite short and easy to digest. His overall presentation is a bit dry but always very clear. This study aid is also a solid choice because it makes a great companion for Dressler’s well-regarded hornbook, Understanding Criminal Law (physical).

Summing It Up

My overall advice is to choose study aids that emphasize analysis and application, such as the E&E series and the Glannon Guides. This ensures that you’re practicing the skills that you will be tested on in your exams. Even if you end up opting for a hornbook-style overview, consider supplementing it with some CALI lessons since the included quizzes provide a nice opportunity to test your grasp on the material. There are high-quality lessons covering many of the topics taught in CivProContractsCriminal Law, and Property.

Thanks to your tech fee funds, Study Aids are more accessible than ever, with most of the major series available for use online through the Wolters Kluwer and West Academic platforms. These resources try to recreate the format and the feel of their print counterparts, making them a breeze to use.

What are your favorite study aids? What do you look for when you’re trying to choose one to prep for an exam? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Resource: The Library’s Online Study Aids

By Gilbert Morales, Spring 2020 Reference GRA

It goes without saying that understanding the law is hard work, but you’re not alone in this endeavor. The library has many resources to chart your path to crushing those pesky law school exams. One of the most invaluable resources is the library’s online study aids. Students anxious to begin exam prep can access online the West Academic Study Aids and the Wolters Kluwer Study Aids by visiting the GSU Law Library website and clicking “Online Study Aids” in the Services tab.

Blog Study Aid

In West Academic Study Aids, students can take advantage of the newly added Exam Pro quizzes. To find this tool, simply search the Exam Pro Series then filter by “Quizzes” under “Type” in the left navigation bar. Exam Pro quizzes allow students to immediately see correct answers and problem explanations. It also breaks down law school subjects into subtopics so students can focus on specific areas.

West Academic also provides access to the entire Acing Series. Like Exam Pro, the Acing Series also dives into subtopics and provides easy to understand explanations. However, it focuses mainly on short answer essays. Students can also benefit from double-checking their outlines by using Acing’s easy to follow topic checklists. Line by line students can understand the logic and sequence of contract formation, civil procedure, and rules of evidence.

Moreover, for the podcast generation, West Academic has the Sum and Substance Audio series where every major law subject is broken down into bit size audio clips ranging from 3-20 minutes. Listening to audio clips offers flexibility that can be used most effectively during exam crunch time.

Students can also access the Wolters Kluwer Study Aids that has a range of accessibility features. One notable feature is the ability to download study aid content. Downloadable materials make it easier for students to quickly access study aids on their desktop. Wolters Kluwer also offers audio and video content. For the visual learners among us, the “In Other Words” video series provides understandable material explained by law professors and legal practitioners from nearly all major areas of law.

Additionally, Wolters Kluwer offers invaluable content like Examples and Explanations (E & E) and Emanuel Crunchtime. Much like the Acing Series, E & E provides easy to understand explanations of topics and subtopics but also includes more short answer hypotheticals. So if your exam includes short answer questions, E & E is your go-to.

Emanuel Crunchtime is another terrific study aid because it’s among the most comprehensive. To give you an idea, this study aid typically includes short answer questions, multiple-choice questions, and essay exam questions, all with answers included. Emanuel Crunchtime even has flowcharts!

It’s important to remember when reviewing study aids that explanations will differ from your professors but as one 3L advised me, “use study aids to fill in the gaps.” Meaning where a professor was ambiguous, use a study aid to clarify. With that being said, it’s best to sample study aids to see what suits your study style. Remember you’re not alone on this journey, use study aids to reach your goal and crush your exams!