So I want you to think back to law school for a second. Do you remember spending countless hours reviewing a case brief, only to find yourself unable to recall anything the very next day during a cold call? Or perhaps you may remember that networking event you attended your 1L summer, where you met several attorneys who you desperately hoped would provide a lead to your 2L job. However, when you intended to send a follow up email to one of these attorneys, you couldn’t find their contact information online anywhere because you couldn’t remember their name?
I’ve been guilty of these memorization mishaps numerous times throughout my law school experience. Although these episodes of minor memory loss never got me kicked out of class when I was blank during a cold call or never actually cost me a summer job, these episodes were way less forgiving when I found myself crunched for time on my MBE practice tests during bar prep.
Preparing for the bar exam is a high intensity marathon. The average bar exam course lasts for less than ten weeks, leaving you with essentially under ten weeks to cover a ton of material. However, please don’t allow the reality of that statement to drive you into a state of anxiety because there are many effective ways to remember all that material.
So take a deep breath with me and memorize these five simple ways to retain the wealth of material that will continue to come your way over the next few weeks.
Change up your study location
Changing up your study location during bar prep can help to improve your recall. The human brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time. Psychologists have proved this theory finding that students who study in an untraditional study environment have better recall. They have found that diversifying our outside environment allows the information that we are learning to be enriched and slows down forgetting. So maybe take a break from the traditional law school library setting. Try reviewing your MBE flash cards in that coffee shop you’ve always wanted to visit or maybe take a stab at a few essays in your neighborhood park.
Depending on how far along you are in your bar prep review, you’ve probably come across popular acronyms such as: MY LEGS when reviewing the statute of frauds or HELUVA when studying the elements of adverse possession. As crazy as these acronyms may seem, they actually stick. I sat for the bar exam five months ago and although much of the material at this point has exited my memory, these acronyms have still stuck with me. So as you struggle to remember the complicated elements of different areas of the law, try creating acronyms to assist with your recall. Also, don’t be afraid to get too crazy with it. Honestly, the crazier the acronyms were, the better I was at remembering the material.
Using flash cards can also help with memory recall. Depending on which bar review course you’re taking, you may have already been given flash cards to assist with your review. However, if you weren’t so lucky, no need to fear! Many of my friends used the Critical Pass MBE Flashcards to assist with their study prep. These are a bit costly but I’ve heard they are extremely useful for memory recall. However, don’t allow the cost to dissuade you from utilizing this memory technique. Personally, I was a bit strapped for cash during bar prep so I opted to create my own flash cards. Usually after my bar review class each day I would create detailed flash cards based on the lesson. Then as I got closer to the exam I created flash cards with checklists of key points I would frequently forget. I truly believe this process was a key contributor to my success on the exam.
Handwriting practice essay answers during bar prep will be helpful in remembering the law for both the essay portion and MBE portion of the exam. At the beginning of bar prep, I underestimated how difficult the essay writing portion of the exam would be. While I could issue spot and note a cursory understanding of the law, I quickly realized this was not sufficient to pass the essay portion. Therefore, I began to set aside time each day to issue spot an essay question and hand write my answer. Handwriting is an effective way to learn the material and it also assists with memory recall. Utilizing this method helped me to remember elements of the law for both the MBE portion and essay portion of the exam.
Exercise is also an excellent way to improve your memory. During bar prep it’s very easy to “let yourselves go,” considering all the stress you’re under. However, exercise can actually help to reduce your stress and anxiety, all while improving your memory and thinking skills. Several studies have shown that, “the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t.” I know it may seem like you have no time to exercise. However, you could incorporate exercise into your regular study schedule. During bar prep I would sometimes go for a walk or jog with my flashcards. This was a fun way to get some studying done while burning some calories.
So what do you have to lose? These five memorization techniques were a lifesaver during my bar prep. However, if you don’t find these tips to be super helpful, be sure to check out these other methods in the event these work better for you. Happy studying!!
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Using Peg System Mnemonics to Memorize Rule Elements
- Memorization is as Simple as 1, 2, 3
- Why Waiting to Memorize Until the Last Two Weeks is a Bad Idea
- Tackling Bar Exam Materials Like a Pro
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