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Outline Myth #2: The Longer the Outline, the Better.

The legend that has grown up around the long—better yet, the long pre-written—law school class outline is, in a word, legendary. A good outline is thought by some to be magical, with dark powers that can turn a One L frog into a prince. Every so often you will hear about a 75 page monster outline for One L Property class that is a silver bullet come exam time.

Secret societies lurk in the woodwork of some law schools and their only purchase on One Ls is that they own wonderful and glorious outlines and provide them only to a privileged few. Why go to class, some say? We have a copy of Nino Scalia’s outline from 1972 for $40!

Of course this is all poppycock. There is no outline that is a silver bullet. A 75 page outline is worthless. With all due respect to his Honor, I am fairly certain that Antonin Scalia has no idea what you ought to be studying for your exam.

Never, never buy an outline. Never bother using an outline someone else has written, no matt er what the cost. If you have the urge to waste $40 on something, just buy two more of my books and hand them out to your friends. Hear me here: it is affirmatively stupid to use someone else’s outline, and in fact, it will make you less prepared for your exam. You can surely guess why this is.

It is not a cliché to say that the process of doing an outline is more important than the outline itself. Well, it may be a cliché, but it is an absolutely true cliché. 90% of the value of an outline is the eight hour process you go through to put it together. More juice for the exam comes from that eight hour period than in any other eight hours you have spent in the entire semester. Doing the outline forces you to revisit all the material for the exam. More importantly, doing the outline forces you to understand how each piece of the law fits into the whole system of law that your class is about.

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