I love easy-to-remember advice.
Because easy-to-remember advice is the only advice we act on.
Great example: Jon Snow’s (No spoilers here!) sword-fighting advice to his sister Arya when he gifts her the sword she names Needle:
That is the essence of sword-fighting.
Is that all there is to fighting with a sword?
Obviously not. Sword fighting is more nuanced than that.
But at the end of the day, what do you do with a sword, when you can’t remember anything else?
Ned Stark — no slouch with a sword — agrees with Arya that “Stick ’em with the pointy end” is the essence of sword fighting.
And this general advice points Arya in the right general direction.
She (spoiler alert!) survives. (As of this writing, anyway).
I mean, good gravy does she Arya follow Jon’s advice. (Spoiler alert –graphic violence! — to see how she follows Jon’s advice).
* * *
So, what is the law school equivalent of “stick ’em with the pointy end”?
I have been trying to reduce law school success to a single word.
Of course, no success at a complex activity can be reduced to a single word.
But here is my best try (and I’m cheating using an acronym):
Take A Practice Exam A Day.
That is it.
Say it out loud.
It sounds like “tapenade”, or maybe a portmanteau for “a tapestry that you see at the French business school INSEAD” (Tap-EAD?).
If it helps (for those of you who think visually), imagine — to lock this in your head — yourself naked, covered in olive TAPEAD, while speaking business French and casually leaning on a tapestry that you are totally ruining because of the tapenade.
I won’t draw that for you.
So, TAPEAD: Take A Practice Exam A Day.
Simple advice. Easy-to-remember advice.
Why will it work?
If you take a practice exam every day, you are actively exercising your issue-spotting muscle, the one skill upon which your grades depend (but that law school does not teach you directly).
If you follow this simple, easy-to-remember advice, you will survive law school. (Meaning: everyone passes, but you will do well.)
Now, TAPEAD is not every nuance on how to excel in law school.
When to start? When is the “every day”?
Well, as soon as you can. Maybe starting the summer before law school.
In any case, no later than September or early October of your first year — do it every day.
I set out “the essence of it” in the video embedded below (I don’t call it “TAPEAD”, but you get the point):
Remember: even Jon Snow (who knows nothing) says “you have to work at it every day.”
Which is why the daily practice of TAPEAD is the essence of your law school success.