Talk to Yourself to Learn the Law
Vocabulary victims are bar candidates who can remember some of the words from a rule of law, but who cannot identify issues in fact patterns on the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) or the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). They do not understand the law, let alone how the law applies to facts. They cannot master the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE).
The best method for learning how law applies to facts, believe it or not, is talking to yourself. Neuroscientists call this metacognition. Here are three good ways to talk to yourself for greater understanding of the law as you are preparing for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). (1) First, ask yourself questions, for example, Can I think of any situations where this rule of law might apply? Or: How is this rule different from related rules in the same or different areas of law? Or: What would have to happen for this rule not to apply? (2) Second, study the examples in your bar-prep materials, whether Themis, Pieper, BarBri or other, and ask yourself how they are the same or different from each other and from the other examples you have studied. (3) Third, read other sources and ask yourself how reading each source made a difference to your understanding–or not. You can consult the Conviser Mini-Review or an old one-volume review outline you used in law school or even a Wikipedia article.
Flash Cards are the Secret to Great Bar Exam Results
Once you have understood a rule, put it on a flash card. A flash card will give you short statement of law to study and memorize. Make sure that the rule is in memorizable form. Just one simple sentence, normally. If you state the rule in a complicated way, it will be hard to memorize.
Memorization and Repetition are Key to Success
Memorization helps you make the material entirely your own and call it up whenever you need it on the bar exam. Repetition is vital to memorization. The psychologists who have studied spaced repetition suggest that you should recite the rule just at that point where you are almost forgetting it. Assuming, however, that you cannot precisely target that point, I’d aim for frequent repetition. Perhaps every other day or every third or fourth day, until the bar exam.
What About All the Time This Takes?
Wanting to study quickly is the enemy of understanding the law and studying effectively. Yes, this method takes a lot of time. In the end, however, it saves time. Since you are only memorizing rules of law that you understand well, you need never go back and reread your notes. You certainly need not go back and listen to a video again. Your speed may be slow, but you make up for it in effectiveness.
Recommended Reading on Learning Systems
Read our BarWrite Blog post called Memorizing Law, Can it Make You Brilliant on the UBE? It provides more information than this post on why memorizing makes learning easier. I also recommend a post by David Handel called “How to Read Academic Content Once and Remember it Forever.”
PERFORM YOUR BEST ON THE BAR EXAM PERFORMANCE TEST (MPT): TRAIN TO FINISH THE MPT IN 90 MINUTES “LIKE A SPORT(TM). Best-selling study guide for all Bar Exam Performance Tests. This system helps bar candidates and practicing lawyers produce faster and more effective work products. One reviewer called it “the Swiss Army knife of the MPT.”