Everyone has to memorize and comprehend the same material to pass the bar exam, but not everyone has to go about it in the same exact way. Most bar preppers follow the same basic schedule – listen to lectures, review outlines, complete practice problems. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, in fact, it’s a tried and true method of preparing for the bar exam. But to help you master the immense amount of material you need to know and to give yourself every advantage, you should also tailor your review to include specific learning strategies that work best for you. In addition to relying on the study techniques that brought you success in law school, using study techniques that work with your specific learning preferences will promote retention and comprehension. Not sure what your preferred learning style is? Take this quiz then try out the following study tips for each learning style to help you master the material you need to know for the bar:
Visual learners have a preference for seeing, rather than hearing or writing, the material they need to know. If you’re a visual learner, you should reorganize the information and concepts included in your commercial outlines into charts, graphs, and tables. Outlines are valuable study tools because they show the proper relationships among concepts and create a linear framework that can help you logically analyze problems, but visual learners may need to supplement their outlines with study aids that present the information in a more visually pleasing way. Struggling to memorize a specific concept? Write out the information in an interesting font or with some unique graphics and memorize the material as an image rather than as a string of words.
Auditory learners have a preference for information that is either heard or spoken. If you’re an auditory learner, take advantage of recorded lectures and outlines, or better yet, create your own! As you listen to the recordings, write down key words and concepts so that you stay actively engaged with the material. If you need help memorizing a difficult concept, try recruiting a non-lawyer friend to listen to you explain the rules and how they are applied to different fact scenarios. Hearing yourself explain the concept aloud to a layperson will not only help you remember the material, but will also help you determine how well you understand the material.
Read/Write learners are the lucky ones – they have a preference for learning through text based information. In other words, their learning preferences work pretty well with traditional law schools teaching methods like reading cases and writing outlines. But even read/write learners may struggle with the breadth and complexity of material needed for the bar exam. If you’re a read/write learner, try converting the difficult concepts in your outline into paragraph form and back again. Going through the process of writing out the concepts in complete sentences and then re-writing them in outline format will reinforce your understanding and improve recall. Read/write learners will do particularly well using mnemonic devices or other word play to help with memorization of the rules.
Kinesthetic learners have a preference for learning information through practical experience and examples. While it’s absolutely essential to know the plain old black letter law, kinesthetic learners should also insert hypotheticals and examples into the outlines to help them see how the law is applied. Kinesthetic learners should also consider working through extra practice problems so that they can see how the rules function in practical scenarios. Need to work on memorizing all that bar prep material? Make your own study aid – complete with examples – to help you master the material, whether it’s drafting a mini-outline, crafting a flow chart, or making some flashcards. The process of creating something will keep you physically and mentally engaged while also allowing you to tailor the study aid to your specific need to have extra hypos and explanations of the material.
Playing to your strengths is always helpful, so try to incorporate study strategies that work with your specific learning preferences. But don’t stop there! The people who retain the most information are actually those who use study strategies that are outside of their natural learning preferences. So push yourself outside of your comfort zone when prepping for the bar exam and use some techniques from all the different learning styles. The little bit of extra hard work it takes to use a learning style that doesn’t come as naturally to you will ultimately make that information more likely to stick.
Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Memorize This! Five Memorization Techniques That Will Help You Succeed On the Bar Exam
- Bar Study Tip: Handwriting Study Materials
- Tackling Bar Exam Materials Like a Pro
- Drinking From a Fire Hose? How Simplifying Can Help You Study for the Bar