While there are no real tricks or shortcuts to preparing for the bar, you can and should study in a manner that will best help you obtain that passing score. One way of doing this is modifying your study habits to best align with your preferred learning style. If you wished bar materials were presented in a way geared towards kinesthetic learners, then this article is for you!
How to Spot a Kinesthetic Learner
If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you learn information best by performing physical tasks as you study, making you a literal hands-on learner! In law school, you likely found it hard to sit still for long periods of time, and you may have caught yourself “zoning out” in class. Generally speaking, you find exercise to be relaxing (and more so than reading a book). You may have found that you are more likely to remember how you felt during an event than specific details about that event. When you speak with others, you often use hand gestures, and you would rather figure something out on your own than read or ask for directions.
The law school environment caters more to visual and auditory learning, so if you felt like your head was going to explode in class and you got better grades or learned more in classes with a practical component (such as a legal clinic, moot court, mock trial, etc.), then you are likely a kinesthetic leaner! As a kinesthetic learner, strongly consider incorporating one or more of the following recommendations into your bar study schedule.
Specific Recommendations for Kinesthetic Learners
Incorporating physical activity into your studying will be critical to your success. Fortunately, there are several ways to do this!
- Study at the Gym: Take your outline or flashcards with you to the gym and use them when you’re on the treadmill, elliptical, or look at them in between reps. You can also read your outline or listen to audio recordings or lessons as you work out!
- Gesticulate: You learn best by associating physical gestures with the studying, so incorporate this into how you study! You can count elements on your fingers, use different hand motions for specific legal concepts, “write” the information you are memorizing in the air while picturing the words in your mind, or trace the words you are studying with your finger or a capped pen. You can also talk with your hands while learning new rules or when explaining the law to an empty chair, spouse, or family pet.
- Walk While Studying: Simply walking around your study space can significantly boost your concentration, because it directly responds to your need to engage in physical activity to learn. If you want to take things further, you can incorporate the Method of Loci (creating a memory palace) by physically moving through a space (as opposed to moving through it visually).
- Use a Stress Ball: Consider investing in a stress ball that you can squeeze while studying, since the physical act of engaging your hand will help your brain concentrate. In fact, the body movement can be as simple as playing with a rubber band, paper clip, or pen, tapping a foot, shifting around in the chair, twirling a strand of hair, or cracking your knuckles.
- Consider Avoiding Lectures: I would strongly recommend that you not listen to lectures (unless they include a ton of real-life examples and applications). For most students, listening to lectures becomes “busy time” they would be better off using to complete practice problems. If you’re adamant about watching them, then watch the lectures away from others to remove distractions. You should also take notes, draw what you are learning, use a consistent color-coding system while taking notes, and consider incorporating movement into your studying (I often rode a bike or used the elliptical!).
- Practice in Exam-like Conditions: Practice like you’re taking the bar to create memory associations. For example, if you’re going to use earbuds, practice with earbuds. If you can’t work in complete silence, no problem! Study with “white noise” to mask distracting external noises: use a fan, play non-vocal music, or go to a coffee house where you can sit out of the high-traffic zones. When you practice under timed conditions, be strict with yourself because you may need to take a five-minute walk break during the actual exam. Finally, study where you aren’t confined in a small space.
- Take Study Breaks: Divide work into short study sessions with breaks or rewards built in (Example: 50 minutes of hard work with a 10-minute break afterwards is a good rule of thumb). These breaks will be most beneficial if you use them to move around (get a drink, take a short lap around the building you’re studying in, grab a snack, etc.).
- If you Decide to Study in a Group or with a Buddy: You and your team need to create a study schedule that incorporates short breaks to help you retain focus. You should also ask to read the questions or lead the discussion when your focus is wandering. Finally, don’t study in a cramped space, as you may want to move around when reviewing legal topics.
- Consider Typing Over Handwriting: Kinesthetic learners often focus better through typing notes, because the rhythmic movement in typing is beneficial. So, consider typing outlines, flashcards, practice essay answers, performance tests, and so on.
- Things to Avoid: As a kinesthetic learner, you literally need space to learn! So, avoid cramped spaces and marathon study sessions that don’t include breaks to move around. Don’t put your physical health at risk, and don’t skip out on exercising. Finally, consider disabling the internet or study in a space that doesn’t have free wifi to remove tempting distractions that will keep you sedentary during breaks.
Explore and Borrow Techniques for Another Style
Although these suggestions are geared towards kinesthetic learners, your preferred bar exam learning style may change based upon the information or task you are preparing to confront. In other words, you may be kinesthetically-inclined for most subjects, but for Contracts you need to take a visual-learner’s approach. Similarly, you might learn an area of Torts better if you attack it with methods suited for another style. Don’t be afraid to borrow techniques for different learning styles if doing helps you learn better and retain material longer. Find what works best for you and happy studying!
Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles and a related podcast:
- Bar Study Tips for Different Learning Styles
- 4 Bar Exam Study Tips for Kinesthetic Learners
- Why Using IRAC Will Help You Pass the Bar Exam
- What Are Bar Exam Graders Really Looking For?
- What is the Uniform Bar Exam?
- How to Approach a Uniform Bar Exam Subject Essay (MEE)
- Podcast Episode 80: Bar Exam 101 – An Introduction