bar exam memory palaceHow to Create a Bar Exam Memory Palace

A memory palace is another tool to retain information. The general idea is to create mnemonics and/or imagery for a concept, and place those mnemonics/imagery in a familiar location. Memory palaces incorporate the above techniques, plus more.

Here are the steps to create a memory palace for the bar exam:

(1) Choose a location for your memory palace (e.g., school, your childhood home, the library, etc.).

A memory palace will need only one location, but you can choose multiple locations to create different memory palaces. Choose a location or building you have actually been in and can easily picture in your mind. Sometimes it is helpful to have a location that has many objects in it (e.g., couches, bookcases, etc.), to help your mnemonics/imagery interact and have a place to be in your memory palace.

(2) Divide the location(s) into large areas based on how many topics/sub-topics you want to include in your memory palace.

This separating of the memory palace can correspond to your mind map (see above). Each area will hold a different overall topic. Then, you will chop up those large areas into smaller and smaller sections for each sub-topic. If you only want to make a memory palace for one topic or one sub-topic, this step will be easy, as you don’t need to separate many ideas.

(3) Choose an intuitive route though the location, hitting each area in step two.

This is why it is best to choose a location you are comfortable with.

(4) If you are dealing with multiple main topics (e.g., Torts and Real Property), then choose a large topic for each main area along the route that makes sense.

Maybe you want Real Property as the first stop on your route because you learned that first. Then, mentally place the corresponding imagery/mnemonics along the route with its topic (e.g., the Real Property mnemonics go in the area you designated for Real Property), in an order or sequence. If you are only working with one topic, then simply place all the mnemonics/imagery along the route.

Hopefully, the mnemonics/imagery can relate to or fit comfortably in their designated location in your memory palace, so you can remember them well later. Use the mind map (see above) to place your sequence of ideas in a coherent order through your chosen location.

(5) Repeat the above steps by adding more topics, sub-topics, and more information until your memory palace is complete, or too full!

(6) To recall a concept, mentally retrace the path through your memory palace to find the topic and mnemonic/imagery you are looking for.

Example

(1) You choose your parent’s home as your location for your memory palace, and plan for it to contain all the bar exam topics and sub-topics (the house is large enough).

(2) So, you divide the home into seven main areas (see diagram on the left), one for each MBE topic. And, based on the above mind map, each large area also will contain the corresponding state-specific topics. The locations are: basement room, storage room, front room, kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom.

(3) The route through your parent’s home makes sense to start at the basement and work your way up (see diagram on the left).

(4) You choose to put Contracts and Sales in the basement room (your mnemonics relate well to the furniture in this room). In this basement room, there is a couch were you place the defenses to contract enforceability, one of the MBE sub-topics.

Under the defenses to contract enforceability is the Statute of Frauds (SoF). The contracts that fall under the SoF are “MY LEGS” = marriage, year or longer, land, executor, guaranty/surety, and sale of goods over $500  (Michigan: $1,000). You place this mnemonic on the leg of the couch, or underneath the couch.

Another related mnemonic is the SoF exceptions:  “SWAMP” = specially manufactured goods, waiver, judicial admission that the contract is valid, merchant memo, and part performance. You picture a swamp under the couch, with the legs in it.

In other words, the legs are the things that fall under the SoF, or the things that hold up a contract, but if it falls in the swamp, then there is no need for the SoF and the contract can proceed without a writing.

(5) Then, the next room you enter is the storage room and you could place Torts in there. And so on.

Warning!

Memory palaces are a great tool, but they take time to build, and you have to review them frequently. If you want to create a memory palace of your own for the bar exam, we suggest starting early. If you wait until the last minute, then you will spend more time trying to create the memory palace than actually memorizing the material, which is not an efficient use of your time.

If you are short on time, you can always create a small memory palace for just one bar exam topic or sub-topic (e.g., Torts, or intentional torts). You can always add on later if you have time.

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