as far as con law goes, i have one word: chemerinsky. it bears repeating...chemerinsky. he has a soft-cover treatise on constitutional law, and it's the con law bible. i read that treatise in lieu of the casebook, at the end of the semester, and con law was my highest grade that semester. i didn't outline, or even look very much at my (almost nonexistent) notes...i just depended on old erwin to pull me through, and that he did.
i'm usually not so cavalier about not doing the reading. my con law class was just plain weird...i had a professor who talked to us as if we were philosophy grad students instead of law students. (he was a philosophy professor by trade, who taught law on the side.) his lectures were...opaque to put it nicely, or unintelligible to put it bluntly. he called on people in seating chart order, so you knew exactly what day you were going to be called on.
for any of my other classes, my regimen goes a little like this:
- stay on top of the reading for class. take notes in the book on things that jump out to help with class participation, and take good notes in class about what was discussed.
- at the end of the semester, right before the final, condense the material from the notes into an outline. outlining is a forced comprehensive review of the class, and involves running through the material from beginning to end, to refresh my memory.
- some classes are harder to outline or condense than others. that is where study aids come in. i don't buy study aids for every class, or even the majority of them, but i find myself quite partial to the "CaseNote" canned briefs, if i'm using a book that has a CaseNote volume keyed to it. CrunchTime is also a good series, because it is very clear, and has good practice problems to run through and discuss.