Learning the material tested on the bar exam does not mean you should simply memorize that material. Memorization is a lower-level skill and the bar exam does not test your ability to memorize. It tests your ability to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts. Instead of memorizing, you should be learning. Learning means you know, understand, and can apply material. No bar exam question is going to ask you to rattle off the definition of consideration. Instead, the question will ask you to explain whether consideration exists under a certain set of facts. You can’t do this if you have memorized but not learned the material. So stop reading your notes over and over and think about what you can do to learn the material. For example:
- Use notes/outlines to answer questions. This provides context for the material because you see both what and how it is tested. It also helps you identify gaps in understanding- if you can’t apply the rules to a fact pattern, then you don’t understand that law.
- Spend as much time reviewing as doing. Checking your work helps you see not only why you missed something but also why you got it right. It reinforces both process and substance.
- Create a Phrase That Pays (PTP) Bank. As you work through material, you will notice that certain words and phrases show up again and again. Make note of those works in a PTP Bank. This facilitates learning because it organizes and connects concepts, and serves as a trigger for when you mind goes blank (and it will). If you can recall one PTP, you can create a rule.
- Construct a rules-only outline. Go through essay responses and for each subject, pull out the synthesized rules and add to a running list. Creating a concise rule outline as you go along breaks up a big task and makes it easier to learn the individual rules and how the rules fit together.
- Answer questions more than once. Make note of essay and MBE questions that you found particularly tough and answer them again July (when you have a better handle on the law). You should notice an improvement. This helps you identify gaps in understanding and serves as proof that you’ve learned the material.
Focus on the process and keep moving forward. Trust yourself and your abilities.