So you’re new, and all these terms are being suddenly thrown at you without any explanation, right? Here’s some terms that, from my experience, always seem to cause a bit of confusion.

Outline: Also known as CANs (Condensed Annotated Notes), these are your lifeline in an exam. Law school exams are generally worth 100%, and these outlines are your guide to doing well. They are cleaned up and combined versions of your class and reading notes, often cross-referenced with older CANs found on the “CAN Banks” of the law schools.

Framework: AKA attack outlines, these are shorter versions of your outline/CANs, often containing summaries of the law and all of the legal tests you need to know. It is meant as a quick reference during your exam.

Narratives: These are pre-written answers for the exam, if the exam is open book. They tend to be pre-written law summaries or legal tests to save time.

FIRAC: AKA IRAC, this acronym will help you for both reading for class and during the exam. It stands for FACTS, ISSUE, RATIO (OR RULE), ANALYSIS, CONCLUSION. IRAC is the same, minus FACTS. These are the main things that you should focus on when creating case briefs for class, and when you are creating your answer in an exam. Facts are…self-explanatory, issue refers to the specific legal issue in the case, ratio/rule refers to the main takeaway of the case, analysis is the court’s analysis in the case, and conclusion is what the outcome of the case was (ie. “appeal allowed”). You may also hear the word “obiter” or “dissent” thrown around – this refers to the court minority’s analysis of the case.