Many bar studiers are overwhelmed with the amount of information they need to study for the bar exam. In addition, it can be difficult to wade through long outlines or additional video lectures.
This is why Lean Sheets were developed—to help those of you studying for the bar exam pare down the information to what you need to know. Then you can spend your time doing more practice, which, as you know, we here at the Bar Exam Toolbox consider a critical element of your bar preparation.
The Lean Sheets team was nice enough to send us a complimentary copy of a set of Lean Sheets to check out. I must say that I thought they added a lot of value. They include short and succinct rule statements that would be easy for a bar studier to memorize. Also suggested are mnemonics to assist in memorizing various areas of law.
I think many different studiers could benefit from Lean Sheets as a study tool.
Here are the pros:
- If you are running out of time and need a short list of the need to know law to memorize, these sheets can be a great starting place.
- If you are having trouble creating your own attack plans or short outlines as useful study tools, these sheets can help you, especially in the final weeks of memorization.
- If you are anxiety-ridden because of the size and volume of your bar materials, these sheets can be printed out and simplify your life down to just two or three pages per subject!
- Some helpful features include concise charts for a few areas of law lots of students find tricky—like hearsay exceptions in Evidence and 1st Amendment in Con. Law. The state vs. federal law distinctions are also color-coded so you can easily keep track of them.
- Lean Sheets now include an option to buy an additional packet of flash cards. Flash cards don’t work for everyone. For me personally, I had to make my own outlines in an iterative fashion and condense down the law myself to really learn it, but some students may find this addition helpful. The good news is, if you don’t want flash cards, you don’t need to buy them! You can just get the basic Lean Sheets themselves.
What about cons?:
- Some of our students have found that Lean Sheets can be too lean. There are quite a lot of abbreviations, and if you memorize the rules as they are written, you’re not necessarily memorizing a full rule statement you could write on an exam. For that reason, I would suggest translating the Lean Sheet rule into a full, plain English sentence you can actually write out and remember on a real essay.
- Acronyms can be great, but some students have said that those on the Lean Sheet are odd or hard to remember. I find that acronyms and mnemonics work the best when you make them up yourself—the weirder the better! If you don’t like the Lean Sheet mnemonics or those of any other study tool, just come up with your own.
- Along the same lines of just being really lean (which again, is sort of the point!), some students have said that the Lean Sheets don’t offer any explanations. Lean Sheets are great to help you get an overview of all the topics you need to know for the exam. If you want detailed explanation of how these rules work, though, I would suggest just using the Lean Sheet as a jumping-off point and then going and looking up the law in a reference book for a longer explanation.
As we have discussed on this blog, we don’t believe there are any magic outlines that will guarantee that you pass the exam (wouldn’t it be nice if there were?). But what is great about the current state of the bar exam marketplace is that new products are being introduced to meet many different student needs. Lean Sheets are one such product. For me personally, in order to learn the law I had to develop my own version of short outlines and attack plans, as reading or reviewing outlines didn’t help me commit things to memory. But for many students, especially those who are feeling under water in the bar study process, this product could be of great use. But remember, Lean Sheets are just one tool to help you streamline your study process, as you get ready for the exam.
I want to mention one more thing we like about Lean Sheets—the price point. Outlines are available from Lean Sheets for exams all over the country and the price point is an easy $39.95 for California or Uniform Bar Exam Outlines ($59.95 if you also want flash cards). And once purchased, the outlines are immediately available for downloading—so there is no waiting for something to arrive by mail.
Have you used Lean Sheets to help you study for the bar exam? If so, please share your experiences in the comments.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Bar Exam Lessons Learned and Free California Outlines
- Our Thoughts on Different Bar Review Tools
- How to Select a Bar Review Tutor
- The Key to the Performance Test: Find Your Approach
Originally reviewed February 2014, Updated April 2016