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Study Aids, Strategies & Exam Prep: Types of Study Aids

Print and online study aids for required and suggested 2L and 3L classes most of which are part of bar exam study.

Selecting Study Supplements/Aids

Icons Used Below:

 = Print materials available in the Law Library, current edition as well as older editions that can be checked out for longer periods

= Online materials available in the Wolters Kluwer Online Study Aids Library

 = Available in both print and online formats

Hornbooks

  • One of the best study aids is a hornbook.
  • Hornbooks are treatises in the subject matter.
  • They explain the legal concepts and black letter law the way a non-fiction book or textbook would.
  • Hornbooks are more like your undergraduate scholarly texts, except more scholarly and more detailed. However, they can be quite illuminating if you cannot pull the legal concepts out of the cases and the class discussions. Hornbooks are better than commercial outlines because the outlines are just that.
  • They cover many concepts, but they cannot cover all the concepts in great detail. A hornbook can go into detail, explain the reasoning behind a series of cases, and take you through the legal synthesis process. The hornbook author tells you what the law is, not leads you to it Socratically.

Don't purchase hornbooks because the cost can be prohibitive. The law school has a number of hornbooks  at the circulation desk in the library as well as older editions throughout the library. A good place to start is the Concise Hornbook  series or the Aspen Student Treatises   series but you can also find other hornbooks for a specific topic using the library catalog. Search the library catalog for your subject such as "property law" and "hornbook. Review the results for items with the location "Reserve" or ask the Circulation staff for recommendations. The most recent copy of these materials will be found in reserve with additional copies located in the First Floor Study Materials section--the bookcase closest to the library Reference Desk. 

Hornbooks can help when you create course outlines. When you're outlining, if you don't understand the concepts from the casebook and class notes, read the appropriate section in the hornbook, and see if you then understand enough to outline. The hornbooks discuss cases, so you probably will see an explanation of many of the cases in your case book. The hornbook might just discuss the cases in a way that you understand.

Other Study Aids Available at the Library

The Library also has commercial outlines and other study aids available for checkout at the Circulation/Reserve desk as well as older versions in the stacks that you can check out and use at home. Some series are also available online through our digital subscriptions (linked in the list below). Locate these print and online materials in the library catalog--select "Series" from the drop-down menu and then enter "Examples and Explanations" or "Nutshell" into the search box to pull up all items in the series. Need help? Ask the librarians or staff at the Circulation desk for titles to fit your course. See the the 1L Study Aids and Required/Recommended Courses tabs for pages listing all study aids available for these classes. 

Or view a full list here: ( = print and   = Online access)

Acing Law School Series 

Aspen Student Treatises 

Black Letter Outlines 

Casenote Legal Briefs 

Concepts and Insights 

Concise Hornbooks 

Emanual Cruchtime 

Emanual Law Outlines 

Examples and Explanations  & online 

Friedman's Practice Series 

Glannon Guides  & online 

In Other Words Audio & Video Series 

Inside Series 

Jumpstart Series 

Nutshells 

Questions & Answers Series 

Short & Happy Guides 

Understanding Series 

Other Study Aids

Includes Canned Briefs, Flashcards, Tapes etc.:
Every year it seems that there are more and different study aids. Don't use any of them to substitute for your work (canned case briefs. for example). But, since everyone learns differently, only you can determine what will help you clarify and review your understanding of the material. See the Study Software page for ways to create your own flashcards.

Commercial Outlines

Almost every student uses a commercial outline at one time. Commercial outlines can be very helpful in laying out the black-letter law and giving you rules to memorize if that is what you are looking for. Some outlines are geared towards certain casebooks, so some students find those particularly helpful. The problem with commercial outlines is that some students use them in place of reading and working with the material on their own. These outlines are intended to supplement your work, not replace it.

Outlines & Casenotes Available in the Library:

Black Letter Outlines Comprehensive outline of a particular topic area. These outlines may contain additional subtopics or information that is NOT covered or will be tested on in your particular class. Each book also includes sample exam questions and answers as well as tables of cases, statutes, court rules and other materials referenced in the outline. Browsing through the Chapter Review Checklist at the end of the semester can also be a way to quiz yourself on the material for that topic as the main points are presented as questions for you to answer. 

Emanual Law Outlines similar to the Black Letter Outlines but available online via the library's Wolters Kluwer Online Study Aids Library.

Casenote Legal Briefs: helpful to make sure you are pulling out all important aspects of the cases in your textbook; keyed to many different textbooks, find the one that corresponds to your assigned text if available. 

Between Hornbooks & Commercial Outlines

Narrative explanations of areas of law:

  •  Nutshells:   mini-hornbooks that explain the law in a condensed format. Give you just enough law so that you have a clear understanding of course rules, concepts and policy. Available on Amazon.com if you wish to purchase (many in Kindle format for immediate download). 
  •  &  Examples and Explanations: (Aspen Publishers): contains fact patterns and sample questions. Also available online.
  •  Black Letter Outlines:  Comprehensive outline of a particular topic area but also includes sample exam questions and answers as well as tables of cases, statutes, court rules and other materials referenced in the outline. Browsing through the Chapter Review Checklist at the end of the semester can also be a way to quiz yourself on the material for that topic as the main points are presented as questions for you to answer.
  •  Concepts and Insights (Foundation Press): Explains key cases and concepts. 
  •  Emanual Crunchtime:  Offers flowcharts, capsule summaries and sample questions. 
  •  Emanuel Law Outlines: Similar to Black Letter Outlines
  •  Friedman's Practice Series: Exam prep resource offering sample essays and multiple choice questions with model answers and analysis.
  •   &  Glannon Guides: Offers practice questions and analysis of major concepts and case law in that subject area. More in-depth than a nutshell but with fewer practice questions than an Examples & Explanations guide.  Also available online.
  •  Inside Series: Offers a big picture overview of the legal subject along with graphics, examples and FAQs. 
  •  In Other Words Audio & Video Series: short podcasts and videos that each cover subtopics from major first year and required/recommended courses. 
  •  Jumpstart Series: Covers 1L subjects only. Provides context for case analysis and offers a detailed step-by-step approach to the stages of litigation, beginning with stating a theory of the case, moving through determining facts and making motions to receiving the holding of the case. Legal reasoning and the litigation process are taught via numerous judicial opinions with full analysis of each.
  •  Short & Happy Guides: (West): Brief description of legal concepts for a particular subject area, highlighting major cases
  •  Understanding Series: (formerly "Legal Text Series") Descriptions of concepts but no sample problems.

Many of these can also be found either new or used on Amazon or other online retailers.