We have written on several occasions about the benefits of discovering your learning style to better craft your studying methods. This post is specifically about unique visual learning techniques that can help any law student and bar student study in a new way. Even if you don’t identify as a visual learner, try these techniques out. Learning using all of your senses, also called multimodal learning, can significantly improve your retention and engagement when studying.
Mind maps involve drawing images for concepts and then drawing lines to connect the related concepts to each other. They are effective since they can help you see the big picture (literally), help you see how different ideas are connected, simplify complex ideas, and engage your creativity when studying. The goal is to create easy to remember visual associations to break down a complex concept.
To begin your mind map, get some colored pencils or markers and a blank piece of paper. Start by drawing the main idea or concept in the middle of your page. Be creative with how you represent this concept! Just be sure to label the image.
Next, draw a curved branch off of the main image connecting it to the first major point that is related to your primary topic. Be sure to label the branch, essentially classifying what the relation is to the central thought.
From there, draw sub-branches for sub-topics and even more sub-branches to clarify those sub-branches, depending on how complex the subject is. When starting a new association, however, start with a new branch off of the main image.
To make your mind map easiest to use, try and simplify the labeling of your branches off of the central idea. Use different colors for different branches off the center image. Make your images as exaggerated, unique, or funny as possible – this will help you remember them more. Here is an example of a mind map of international environmental law from LearningFundamentals:
If you are not the most artistic type, check out Mindmup. Mindmup is an online mind map builder where you can do everything we just discussed digitally! Create central nodes, color code, attach media – Mindmup has it all covered. You can export your map as a jpeg, pdf, or other file type and share it with your friends.
Try this fun way of studying for your next exam! It will engage parts of your brain that usually aren’t active when you are just reading and re-reading your textbooks.
Flowcharts are similar to mind maps but they don’t necessarily involve drawing images. They are designed to help you understand the connections between ideas or the progression of ideas leading up to a concept. This is especially helpful when a law has many conditions: you can create a flowchart that diverges in different areas based on a particular “Yes or No” question. Here is an example of a simple flowchart from
You should avoid trying to map out too much information in a flowchart. If you go a little overboard, a flowchart can turn into a mess very quickly. But in general, flowcharts are helpful for thinking out legal concepts and understanding complex laws.
Flashcards can benefit visual learners for several reasons. The process of creating the cards and flipping them over to see the answer are a process that engages the brain in many ways. Using color coded flashcards is an especially effective way to enhance the benefits of flash cards if you are a visual learner. Related topics can be grouped by color. Taking flash cards to the next level, you could even draw a unique image on each flashcard related to the topic. This can be helpful when trying to remember particular legal cases. Drawing an image of an important aspect of the case will give you an additional visual cue to remember, in addition to the name of the case and the color of the card.
In this post, we covered a few unique visual learning techniques that can help any law school student. In general, if you are a visual learner, follow these two basic tips:
In everything you do, use color. This includes using highlighters when taking notes and reading, using colored flashcards, and organizing colors to topics.
You can do this using mind maps, flowcharts, and flashcards, but also draw images when taking notes. You are not going to remember everything the professor says. But if you take extensive notes including images in those notes, you are more likely to remember the lecture. Don’t forget draw in the margins of your readings too!
If you want to learn more about visual learning, check out this post. We highly recommend looking into SketchyLaw, a visual learning program, regardless if you identify as a visual learner or not. SketchyLaw employs all the methods we discussed in this post and more! Visit their website here.