What’s A Subject Attack Outline And How Do I Make One?

You might be thinking: “It’s too late to make my own outlines” or “making outlines are too time consuming.” Attack outlines are a bit different. They’re your own condensed version of each subject, and they may only be 5-7 pages. You work on making them and use them for final review a week or so before the exam. So, what purpose do they serve? They serve three purposes: (1) it’s a way of having you organize how you would attack or approach a particular subject; (2) the act of making an attack outline helps you memorize and internalize the material; and (3) it gives you a short outline to review with important points right before the exam instead of looking at long outlines.

How Do I Make An Attack Outline?

Instead of having a pretty outline with complete sentences that’s many pages long, an attack outline should just consist of short memory triggers for you. Let’s take a look at what a section of an attack outline could look like in Contracts, focusing on the Parol Evidence Rule.

Parol Evidence Rule: evidence of prior/contemporaneous agreements or negotiations that contradict, modify or vary terms inadmissible if contract is complete and final expression (exceptions: mistake, condition precedent, consideration issues, formation defects, ambiguous terms, subsequent modifications, collateral agreements, additional terms of partial)

*Triggers: written K court finds is final agreement; oral statement made at the time K was signed OR earlier oral or written statements by parties to K

How does the above differ from a regular outline?

  1. It’s much shorter. Does it contain EVERYTHING you need to know about parol evidence? It doesn’t contain everything in your long outline about it, but it contains enough after studying to just trigger your memory about the issues.
  2. It contains the scenario in which this issue comes up in a question. If you put triggering facts in your attack outlines (i.e., the ways in which the issue is tested), it helps you attack this particular issue by recognizing it. You can write what triggers each issue after being exposed to studying and practicing it. That’s why making attack outlines are effective after you’ve spent some weeks studying.
  3. It’s a manageable way to digest a lot of material. Instead of reviewing 80+ pages when you’re nearing the time of the bar exam, you are just reviewing short, condensed outlines that you create that assist you in attacking a subject. It’s a place where you organized the subject, the sub-topics, and told yourself how to attack this area.

If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed – try this out. You might find it helpful!

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