Improve your scores

1. Use a good dictionary - click here

2. Use a legal Dictionary - click here

3. Read how to improve you scores - click here

4. When you read the facts of a case, consider you are reading a "story", and learn the characters and the plot of the story well - do a pencil figure diagram with arrows showing each character, their name and with the arrows what they are doing or not doing in the "story" - this will help you comprehend the case better, and learn the legal principles also more throurooughly - read this article - click here


5. Read the your law book information with "critical judgment" - click here for powerpoint presentation    for webpage click here - if you do not have powerpoint program. (this is written by Vivian Sinou, Director of Distance Education at Foothill Community College in Altos, California, near San Francisco - thanks Vivian).

here are the 7 steps: 1. recall 2. translation 3. interpretation 4. application 5. analysis 6. synthesis 7. evaluation
notice that the student moves from the "concrete" to the "abstract" -

step 1: Your recognize and recall
At the most basic level, when you are finished reading, you should be able to close your book and recall some concrete information, such as:
What are some of the author’s main arguments?
What facts and evidence does the author present?
When did this incident take place?
Where did this event take place?

step 2: translate - put into your own words
At the second level of thinking you translate the information presented in your own words. This is exactly what you do when you write a summary.
Translating information in your own words allows you to know whether you understood it. It is the first level of processing the information.

step 3: Interpretation: You understand information in relation to other ideas
(comparison, contrast, causes and effects, etc.)
At the third level of critical thinking you interpret the information, meaning you attempt to understand the different ideas presented by examining how they relate to other points, subpoints, arguments, scenarios, etc.

step 4: Application: you user your new information to solve new problems.
At the fourth level of critical thinking, you apply the information presented by attempting to solve new problems, by relating to it, by transferring it to new settings, or by using it in different situations. When applying information, ask yourself: How can one use. . .? How does this relate to . . .?

step 5: Analysis: You break down complex ideas to examine various components
At the fifth level of critical thinking you analyze complex ideas presented in a reading by taking them apart and examining various components. When examining complex ideas, one should explore “why” and “how” kinds of questions.

Step 6: Synthesis: You create information to summarize, conclude, predict, connect, or create new ideas.
At the sixth level of critical thinking you synthesize the information or points presented. Questions that you could ask yourself include: What is the connection between. . . ? What conclusions can one draw from this? What does this idea contribute to . . .? How does this idea relate to our social . . .?

Step 7: You judge worth, validity, accuracy, relevancy or other quality
At the seventh level of critical thinking you evaluate the information or points presented.
Questions that you could ask yourself include: Is the information valid, accurate, convincing? Is the information relevant or worthwhile? Is the author correct when he says. . . ? Do you agree with the idea. . . ? Why?

suggestions to improve your scores on the law quizzes:

1. read the question, and the answers. Try to figure out which legal principle is being tested.

2.a legal principle is a rule or law. each rule usually is set up like a math formula. i.e. assault and battery = 1. an offsensive 2. touching 3. without consent

3.then re-read the question after you have determined which legal principle applies.

4. check to see if all of the elements of the "formula" are present. i.e. is there an offensive touching without consent. Be careful to "analyze" each element to make sure it is present or not. This is the "tricky" part.

5. Sometimes the author will test if you understand the "exception to the rule" - again there is a formula. eg. defenses to an assault and battery -
* Self defense
* Defense of others
* Factual innocence – it wasn’t you
* Lack of intent, such as an accident
* Defense of property

so make sure that no facts exist under an exception when you are trying to apply a general rule of law.

hope this helps.

Prof. J.
7/01/05