The Skillman Method™

The Basic Exam Course™

Skillman Lawyer’s Quote

“I wanted to put in writing the impact your course had on me when I was a first year law student at the University of Minnesota …. The course provide me with analytical and test-taking skills that provided invaluable in my law school career, and afterwards as a law clerk with the Honorable Gerald W. Heaney, Eight Circuit Court of Appeals and the Honorable John M. Mason, Magistrate Judge, U. S. District Court for Minnesota.”

T. M. J., Esq.
Graduate, the University of Minnesota School of Law

The eight-hour Basic Exam Course™ is available online 24/7 via video streaming and includes three classes. The Basic Exam Course™ was formerly called Study Methods Which Produce Excellence. The Skillman study methods course has been sponsored by numerous ABA-approved law schools, the Oregon State Bar, the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity Program (CLEO), and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, among others. The course available online was sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers.

Professor Nerissa Shklov Skillman, a graduate of Berkeley Law School and Founder of The Skillman Method™, believes ALL motivated law students deserve to have the tools to EXCEL. Over the course of her forty+-year career, more than 20,000 students have attended her study methods and bar preparation courses.

Class 1: How to Excel in Law School

The class is approximately three hours and includes two breaks. Topics covered in Class 1 are

  • How to schedule time realistically
  • The four phases of study
  • How to set up a Preparation List and calendar time
  • How to recognize and understand the operative value system
  • How to recognize the potential for value conflicts and resolve them
  • What it means to think like a traditional lawyer
  • How to read and brief cases
  • How to take class notes
  • How to make a Short Outline for each course
  • How to feel comfortable while learning the law well

Class 2: How to Outline Law School Courses

The class is approximately two hours with a fifteen-minute break.

  • In the first hour, Professor Skillman teaches students how to develop long outlines effectively using their class notes, briefs, casebooks, and outside supplemental materials, such as hornbooks. She teaches them how to use the structure of the Short Outlines to structure their long outlines. She teaches students how to state the law succinctly in complete sentences and how to organize the presentation of the cases in the casebook. She also emphasizes the importance of understanding the policy behind each statement of law included in the long outlines.
  • In the second hour of class, Professor Skillman reviews actual past student outlines and critiques them to demonstrate the application of the principles explained in the first hour of the class. She reviews and critiques several samples of good outlines, as well.

Class 3: Exam Writing and Legal Analysis

This class is three hours and includes two breaks.

  • In the first hour of the class, Professor Skillman announces the standards applied to essays. She also explains that there are three writing styles when writing essay exam answers including IRAC, a more sophisticated version of IRAC, and the Integrated Writing Style. She has developed Exam Templates™ which demonstrate her theories, and she walks students through the templates to show them how they apply. She teaches students strategies for organizing their answers well.
  • Students learn how to use their Short Outlines to spot issues on both essay exams and multiple-choice exams.
  • In the second and third hours of class, Professor Skillman teaches students what the term “legal analysis’ means. She also teaches students how to use the sentences developed in their long outlines to apply the law well. The class includes a review of sample answers from past students and also sample essay answers written by Professor Skillman. Students then see how the theory explained in part one works with actual examples of exam answers.

The Skillman Method™ is a transformative tool which can be applied to law school and bar exam preparation. Skillman lawyers have gone on to become top lawyers, tenured law professors, judges, appellate court justices, and public advocates.