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’ve ever sat down to study and thought to yourself, “If only this material was presented in a way geared towards auditory learners, I could memorize these rules and become a better IRAC writer,” then this article is for you!
How to Spot an Auditory Learner
If you’re an auditory learner, hearing and speaking about what you are learning generally works best for you. In school, you likely noticed that you enjoyed class lectures and discussions. More likely than not, it wasn’t the end of the world if you were called on in class, and, in fact, you may have even felt invigorated by these discussions. You like receiving verbal directions, and often find them easy to follow. When confronting a new, written task, you may talk yourself through it, and you often read e-mails, class handouts, or any other written information out loud, regardless of whether or not anyone else could overhear you. Unlike peers who labor over flashcards and flowcharts, you do not learn best by writing information out or seeing images, pictures, color, and other visual media.
If you believe you may be an auditory learner, then strongly consider incorporating one or more of the following recommendations into your bar study schedule.
Specific Recommendations for Auditory Learners
Listen to lectures
Fortunately for you, many bar prep programs on the market have robust recorded lectures (with or without images) that you can easily incorporate into your bar prep plan of attack. That said, you have to stay actively engaged in the lectures. Merely sitting and listening carries the big risk of tuning out, which is why listening to lectures alone will not be enough prep to get you to pass. When you listen, at a minimum, you should write down key works and concepts to help you stay actively engaged.
Record yourself reading your own outline
It may come as a surprise, but you don’t have to listen to lectures by other people – you can record yourself reading your own outlines! Not only will it help you practice using the legal terms of art, but you’ll be able to listen to those recordings over and over again. Be your best teacher!
Explain the rule to a friend, particularly a non-lawyer friend
Friend: Have your friend use your outline to make sure you articulated the rules correctly, because you must know and set forth the rules specifically. Merely getting the “gist” of the rule will not be enough. Forcing yourself to explain the rule out loud and how it applies when the facts change (especially to a non-lawyer) will help you confirm whether you properly understand the material.
Tutor: Similarly, another good idea is to have someone verbally review information with you. Because you may end up wasting time by procrastinating if you use a friend or family member, a tutor can be a really great resource. With a tutor, you can also practice writing answers to old exam questions or predict exam questions and give the responses out loud.
A trusted study buddy: Although this is not always possible, if you’ve worked well with an auditory study buddy during law school, consider pairing up again to prepare for the bar. Just because you are now studying for the bar doesn’t mean you should forsake what worked well in law school. Of course, sometimes things change. If you or your buddy decide to part ways in the final weeks before the exam, that’s totally okay and normal! Wish each other the best, and switch to one of the other suggested tactics.
Use Rhymes and Word Association
Mnemonic devices, such as songs or rhymes, are great to pair with complex bar materials. The weirder the better! Use acronyms, then turn them into memorable phrases. Rhymes are easy to remember (especially for auditory learners) because your brain stores the information by the sounds and acoustics of the words.
Speak to Memorize
Above, we discussed recording yourself reading outlines, and the same benefits can apply when you’re studying sample essay questions and other materials. Some students (particularly those who may suffer from anxiety, a learning disability, or speak English as a second language) have had great success when they try dictating instead of typing written assignments. Dictating can be a great stepping stone to bridge the gap between oral and written communication! That being said, because you won’t be able to speak aloud during the actual bar exam, you still want to write the answers on paper as you speak them.
Things to Avoid
Because you are stimulated auditorily, your strength is also your weakness. You must remove auditory distractions. Consider studying with ear plugs, especially if your jurisdiction allows you to use them on exam day! Smart study spots include a library, a quiet park, or your own room. Do not forget to engage in proactive study methods about half of your study time. This means you must do timed practice problems and essays, which includes reviewing the sample answers to make sure you understand why you got right answers right and wrong answers wrong.
Explore and Borrow Techniques for Another Style
Although these suggestions are geared towards auditory 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 auditorily-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 it 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 Auditory 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