Useful Bar Exam Studying Techniques

Useful Bar Exam Studying Techniques

After watching lectures, reviewing your outline, and doing practice questions for weeks and weeks, you may become bored with these “traditional” study methods.  In this post, we discuss cool bar exam studying techniques to incorporate into your bar exam preparation and spice up your routine!

Useful Bar Exam Studying Techniques

Mnemonics

Students either love or hate mnemonics.  Some students find them invaluable in helping to remember lists of things, such as elements of a crime or tort.  Other students dislike mnemonics because trying to remember which mnemonic goes with each topic is just one more thing to memorize while studying for the bar exam.  Mnemonics can be particularly helpful if you have been studying for a while and find yourself having difficulty recalling all of the elements or all of the items on a list that you should have memorized.

For instance, many students use a mnemonic to help remember the elements of Adverse Possession.  Some students use “CHANGE”; others use “OCEANS.”  CHANGE stands for: continuous, hostile, actual, notorious and open, goes on for the statutory period, and exclusive.  If you could think of one or two elements (e.g., maybe you can remember “continuous” but can’t remember the others), that “C” might help you remember the mnemonic “CHANGE” and then come up with the other elements.  When you are stressed out and under timed conditions, these mnemonics can be life savers! 

Flashcards

While we do not recommend making flashcards for every single piece of information that could be tested on the bar exam (that would be a waste of time), there are some topics that lend themselves well to flashcards: for instance, you can make a flashcard for each exception to hearsay (if you are looking for other tips for how to learn hearsay, check out our post!).  Or you could make flashcards to help you memorize the elements of the theft crimes.  Or you can make flashcards for the different types of easements.  There are a lot of topics you will come across during bar prep for which flashcards are one of the best bar exam studying techniques.

Many students fail to recognize the importance of memorization while studying for the bar exam.  Reviewing flash cards over and over will help you not only become familiar with the topics, but eventually be able to quickly and succinctly state the elements of each topic for which you made a flashcard.

Memory Palace

Another bar exam studying technique is the memory palace. The idea of a memory palace is to create mnemonics (see above) or imagery for a topic. Then, place those mnemonics in a familiar location.  You should pick a location that you can easily visualize (such as your childhood home), and then assign large sections of that location to different subjects or topics.

If you pick your childhood home, each room could stand for a different MBE topic.  Perhaps you assign Contracts and Sales to the basement.  You can then assign different sub-topics to various objects around the basement.  For example, you assign defenses to contract enforceability to a couch in the basement.  Under the defenses to contract enforceability is the statute of frauds.  The contracts that must be in writing to satisfy the statute of frauds are: marriage, year, land, executor, guaranty/surety, and sale of goods (or “MY LEGS”).  To help you remember these, you place this mnemonic (MY LEGS) on the leg of the couch.  As you are taking the bar exam, you can visualize the different locations and the objects in those locations to help you remember the various rules.

Study Group

Study groups have pros and cons – be sure to check out our post on Whether You Should Join a Study Group.  One of the pros is that they break up the monotony of solo studying.  If you are looking for a new way to study, your study group may help you think of things that you would not have otherwise thought of!  Also, getting together to explain difficult concepts to each other, go over practice tests together, or quiz each other on different subjects can be a breath of fresh air after spending hours and hours holed up studying by yourself.

Whiteboards

Some students like to chart or diagram different concepts on a whiteboard to help them study.  The lack of permanence means that if you make a small error, you don’t need to start over; you can simply erase the error and continue the task.  This also allows you to figure out the best way to chart or graph a concept through trial and error.  You can even take pictures of the charts and graphs afterward to refer to later.   Students who are visual learners (figure out what kind of learning style you have with this post!) especially like seeing the “big picture” in one place and find that seeing the big picture helps them to more easily recall the smaller sub-issues that fit into that big picture.

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