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6 Bar Exam Memory Tips to Dominate the Essays

Memory Tips and 60 Mnemonics to Increase your Bar Exam Score

How to Succeed on the Bar Exam

Your hands are shaking. Your stomach is in knots. 

You’ve been studying for 10 weeks straight…and now you’re finally walking into the exam room. 

You sit down with the bar exam in front of you, and you read the first fact pattern: 

The cops searched this guy’s home without a warrant. Will the evidence get suppressed?

Boom! Immediately you should think: what are the exceptions to the warrant requirement for police officers?

Name them off…ready… go!

Most people might be able to name 2-3 of them after thinking about it for a little while.

But what if there was a way to name all 7 of them immediately?

That’s your ticket to dominating the bar exam essays. 

Here’s how:Mnemonics for the Bar Exam

Boom! You just picked off 7 low hanging peaches! (to make a silly pun) 

Those are points that would have taken most people 3-5 minutes to name 4-5 of them, but you have this beautiful little device that allowed you to do it in 10 seconds.

The key to making this technique effective is by vividly imagining the police officers being too lazy to go get warrants and just sitting in their patrol cars eating peaches. 

Your brain will associate the words WARRANT and PEACHIS, and anytime a warrant exceptions question pops up on the bar essay, the image of the lazy cops eating peaches will pop up in your head.

Just study the elements of PEACHIS a few times, and you’ll be able to easily remember them. 

Not only these elements but numerous others will be super easy to remember if you just use the mnemonics we’ve created. 

Below are e-books containing a number of mnemonics for the Bar Exam:

25 Bar Exam Mnemonics E-book | $5.99 60 Bar Exam Mnemonics E-book | $9.99
Bar Exam Mnemonics Cover Page

Bar Exam Mnemonics Cover Page 2

Keep scrolling down if you want to learn more memory boosting tips for the bar exam!

General Discussion about Bar Exam Preparation

There’s a certain inexplicable pain that comes with studying for the bar exam.

I’ve lived it. It’s not for the weak.  It’s a war of attrition. 

The ridiculous amount of material and demanding amount of study time can cause tremendous stress and anxiety . 

How can you alleviate some of this stress and the anxiety?


That’s the goal of this article—to assist you in passing the final gauntlet with the least amount of stress possible.  

I’ve performed massive amounts of research on food, vitamins, memory techniques, and the best practices in optimizing brain functioning and performance.

Using these techniques, I put together a somewhat comprehensive plan for the days of the bar exam. The aim is to assist you in optimizing your score.

This article will walk you through 6 things you can do to help your overall score on the Bar Exam, and specifically explain how to use 60 mnemonic devices (or bar exam acronyms) to boost your score on the essay portion of the bar exam.

First, let’s look at what you’re up against.

Bar Exam General Background

The Bar Exam is a test that is standardized by the board of law examiners in an attempt to take any capriciousness out of the scoring process.  With that in mind, the bar examiners created two parts and attempted to create an objective scoring method: (1) multiple choice & (2) essays. 

Bar Exam Scantron

In order to take out the potential for arbitrary scoring by the bar examiners, the National Conference of Bar Examiners decided that the most appropriate method for testing the essays would be through creating a scoring criteria.

The essays are a little trickier than multiple choice because you can’t choose the correct answer or not, and you have to standardize the test. 

So, to fairly grade the essays, the bar examiners had to create an objective scoring criteria that allowed the test taker to accumulate points through statements of law and their application to the fact pattern.

The idea was that this objective format would allow the scoring to be free from the caprice of the bar examiner. As we know each professor weighs factors differently, each bar examiner would weigh the writing styles and other attributes of the writing according to their own personal preference.

Thus, the NCBE sets forth certain criteria and awards points for covering relevant topics and associated legal elements for that essay. 

Because the scoring criteria governs point accrual, your essay should be catered to pick up these fixed points. 

A good way to describe it is as if it were one of those resume keyword searchers that look for certain keywords in your resume that might match the position for which you’ve applied. 

Some people have termed these fixed points as “the low hanging fruit.” These are the points that you pick up on the essays by merely reciting the basic elements of a claim or by explaining the foundational elements of the law.

In order to recite the basic elements of the law, though, you first have to remember it.  When the Bar prep companies send you your books in the mail, they send about 50 lbs. of books (or at least I remember that’s what BarBri sent). 

How in the world are you going to remember that much information?

Click to see research on brain foods and how to improve your memory through a healthy diet

That’s the information you need to pick up the low hanging fruit. That’s how you pass the exam.

We suggest using mnemonic devices to help you absorb it better.

Note: The tips included in this article are applicable to the bar exam in all states. The mnemonic devices, however, are specifically aimed at helping you remember important concepts on the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)—that’s not to say that the mnemonics are not applicable to all bar exams, but they were not specifically created for such use.

Uniform Bar Exam Overview

The Uniform Bar Exam, also known as the UBE, is a standardized version of the bar exam that has been accepted by 16 U.S. jurisdictions. The UBE tests whether the individual taking the test has the requisite skill and knowledge to practice as a lawyer. 

The beauty of the Uniform Bar Exam is that an applicant can transfer his/her score among the numerous jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE.

While the Uniform Bar Exam is a barrier to practicing, tests have shown no direct correlation to Uniform Bar Exam performance and the performance of the lawyer.

Note: Because the UBE is more universally applicable and because that’s the test I sat for, the mnemonics discussed in this article are only applicable to the UBE (which may carry over to various other states, but no guarantees).

The first tip, however, deals with food and what you should be eating on exam day.

Bar Exam Tip # 1: how to eat properly on exam day

Most people might just brush this section off, but this is one of the most critical parts of the bar exam for memory and overall mental sharpness.  The types of foods you eat and the amounts will have a direct effect on how your brain is functioning during the exam.

Foods that increase brain power
Foods that increase brain power

This section will give you a basic rundown of what you want to eat on the day of the bar exam, a little background as to why you want to eat those foods, and it will discuss portion control and its benefit to your mental clarity and sharpness on exam day. 

What to Eat on the Day of the Bar Exam

This is a loaded question. Some people eat so their stomach will not be a factor on the test, i.e., oatmeal and a banana.  This may seem like a safe play, but there are numerous other food choices that may actually boost your brain power more. You’ll see why you want to save oatmeal and a banana for bedtime rather than eating it before the exam.

Dr. Perlmutter is a well-known neurologist who has his own opinions on how food affects brain functioning. In his book Grain Brain, Dr. Perlmutter describes a gut microbiome which is something that refers to the bacteria and microorganisms that live in your stomach. The food can affect the flora living in your stomach and allow you to better absorb nutrients as well as heal numerous ailments. Dr. Perlmutter posits the idea that the health of your stomach has a direction correlation to the health of your brain. 

Essentially he suggests that you load up with probiotics and other fermented foods to increase digestive health, which in turn makes your brain sharper.   

I’ve tried to implement these ideas into the diet plan, and I can say from my bar exam experience that I had incredible mental clarity using the following menu (with a few slight adjustments to make it the perfect meal for the bar):

Bar Exam BreakfastAmerican Smoothie with Spinach, Strawberries, Blueberries, Banana, and Coconut Water

Use the following ingredients to make a smoothie:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Spinach
  • Kefir or greek yogurt
  • Coconut water
Explanation of the ingredients:
  • Berries are one of the most powerful foods you can eat for boosting brain power and memory.
  • Spinach is another brain power food.
  • Kefir aims at increasing the good flora in your stomach and intestines to allow you to better absorb the nutrients.
  • Coconut water is loaded with electrolytes which keeps you hydrated and provides sufficient potassium for the sodium-potassium exchange that makes neurons fire.

In addition to drinking the smoothie, you may decide to add coffee into the morning regimen.  The suggested serving amount would be 1-2 cups. 

The reason for this is the following:

Based on testing in rats, researchers found the human equivalent of about 1 cup of coffee given to rats increased long-term memory performance.

Approximately 2 cups of coffee equivalent in humans increased short-term memory performance. 

It is well-advised to try this diet out before implementing it on the day of the bar exam. 

You’re going to want to see how your stomach and the rest of your body responds to the foods. Do not take any risks on exam day because of the food you eat. 

Test it out beforehand. Know how your body reacts. 

Click to see the 6 best foods for exams

Bar Exam Lunch

Use the following ingredients to make a salad:

  • Canned salmon or wild salmon ideally
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Oil based dressing (Vinaigrette – 2 parts olive oil; 1 part balsamic vinegar)
Salmon Salad
Click to see a Honey Dijon Salmon Salad Recipe

While this salad may make you breathe fire, it’s loaded with foods that are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.  All of these foods are also low on the glycemic index and have low glycemic load ratings. 

The ingredients suggest canned salmon as a number of leading researchers who have studied salmon have found that, out of your choices for salmon, wild salmon has the lowest amount of toxins, specifically pcbs or polychlorinated biphenyls, which are toxins in the fish that could hinder brain functioning and memory. 

Because canned salmon is typically produced with wild caught fish, it may be your best alternative for the salad.  Salmon is used because of the high protein content, which helps your brain produce neurotransmitters. It’s also lean but loaded with good omega-3 fatty acids, which form a flexible, receptive casing around neurons to promote better neural communication.

Click here to see recipes of different brain foods

Dinner on the First Day of the Bar

Eat something light—salads are ideal

Spinach is one of the key brain foods, so you would be well-advised to incorporate spinach and other vegetables

Click here to see a list of 31 brain foods to choose from when creating your meal for day two of the exam.

Small Snack before Bed

You want to be able to eat a small bowl of oatmeal and a glass of milk before bed as the combination of the milk (contains tryptophan) and the carbohydrates from the oatmeal can facilitate the tryptophan’s crossing of the blood-brain barrier will allow for better sleep.

The Uniform Bar exam has two days, but the meal is too perfect to change for the 2nd day.  Thus, you should simply repeat breakfast and lunch from exam day 1.

Snacks in General for the Exam

During exam time, you are going to want healthy snacks to munch on at a break or right after you get out of the exam.  The following are a few suggestions as to foods you might want to consider, which will also act as brain boosters:

  • Walnuts
  • Oranges
  • Red Wine (this one is not necessarily a snack, but overall good for brain functioning in small amounts, and well-needed after the exam)
  • Granola
  • Raisins
  • Dried Prunes (be careful with these as they are high in fiber and could have a laxative effect—also note that the prunes as well as raisins are high in sugar because they’re very concentrated)
  • Berries

Fruit Salad with Strawberries, Blueberries, Bananas

These are just suggestions, but there are plenty more options throughout this website.  In addition to recipes for full meals, there are also delicious brain food snack recipes on this site.  

How Much to Eat on the Day of the Bar Exam

Be very cautious about portion control.  The suggested serving of the smoothie is about one cup. 

The reason for this is the following:

Some researchers posit the theory that mild starvation causes neurons to strengthen themselves.  It’s almost like a survival technique where your body’s senses become keener because your body needs to find food to survive. 

Adrenaline is one of your body’s natural mechanisms that works in the same sort of way. 

Think about it with common sense though…after you eat a big meal at lunch, you get tired in the afternoon and want to take a nap. 

Try eating a light lunch, and you’ll see that less energy is spent on your stomach and digestion and more is spent on your brain and mental functioning. 

Even if you think it doesn’t help your memory or brain power, remember this important fact:

Rats that were fed a lower calorie diet survived 1.3 times as long as rats on a control diet. 

Thus, eating less could make you live longer!

Don’t starve yourself, but keep these concepts in mind when you’re planning your bar exam diet.

Bar Exam Tip # 2: proper vitamins, pills, and supplementation to take before the exam

Remember the movie Limitless? Who doesn’t want one of those clear pills?

Brain Pills are very popular these days, and perhaps they should be. Imagine if people could boost memory and brain power with a pill. It would change your life. 

While this may seem like “just a movie,” certain vitamins and pills can actually play a critical role in boosting memory and brain power. 

Best Brain Supplements

There are numerous pills that could potentially benefit you, but this article was not intended to give a comprehensive review of all the different pills out there.

The purpose is to highlight the most important pills and lay out a practical supplementation regimen. 

If you’re only going to take 3 supplements on the day of the exam, you should consider the following:

  1. Multi-vitamin
  2. B Complex
  3. Krill Oil

If you want to take 6 vitamins and supplements then you should consider:

  1. Vitamin E (tocotrienols and tocopherols)
  2. Co-Q10 enzyme
  3. Gingko Biloba

These pills are selected based on their overall antioxidant values, their ability to increase blood flow and oxygen, and their ability to boost overall brain functioning and memory. 

Across numerous sources cited throughout this website, the foregoing pills have shown to be the most effective in consistently aiding cognitive function and memory (both long-term and short-term).

For a more comprehensive list of brain booster vitamins, see the memory supplement page.  

Bar Exam Tip # 3: prepare a large detailed outline followed by mini outlines

Our memories work best when using spatial relationships.  That’s because our brain learns and remembers things using associations. Creating a spatial relationship is essentially just a method to associate concepts.

Leading authorities in memory studies describe our innate ability to remember spatial relationships as a product of our animal instinct. 

One professor even uses the example of remembering bushes or trees in a forest.  The instinct to survive will remind you that a snake or bear was hiding (or lives) behind a particular bush.

Best Exam Foods - Walnut v Human Brain
Remember nature gives us signs — pay attention to them–See how walnuts benefit your brain!

You remember where the bush or tree is located because your body’s survival mechanism naturally makes the spatial relationships in your brain, which allows you to better remember things.  

This instinctual memory tool can be transitioned into studies for the bar exam if you use outlines and arrange the legal concepts into a certain spatial format that allows you to relate the terms. When you can relate the terms, you are able to associate them spatially and better remember them. 

In law school, everyone always talked about outlines.  Well…that’s because when you organize the information into a logical, spatial order, you start to create associations in your brain that greatly enhance your ability to remember. 

Bar Exam Tip # 4: use notecards to test yourself

One of the best ways to learn something is by doing it hands on.  Thus, you have to learn to use your time effectively, especially since time is at a premium during the Bar Exam preparation months. 

That means you have to put yourself through the gauntlet as much as possible.

The way you do this is by constantly testing yourself. Write a term on a notecard and the definition on the back.  Then ask yourself the definition of that term. 

If you can’t spout it off immediately, then you need to set that card into the ignorant pile. 


So, you’ll have two piles:

  1. Terms you already know
  2. Terms you do not know well (Ignorant pile)

Continue making cards for any key terms that you believe will be tested on the essay portion.  You can put short outlines on the notecards or mnemonics and test yourself on those as well.  

Bring the notecards when you go on walks, put them in your bathroom, and even put them in the passenger seat of your car for when you get to stoplights and want to be productive.

All of these techniques will help you better remember the definitions of essay terms for the bar exam. 

Bar Exam Tip # 5: controlling stress & anxiety on the bar exam

The Bar Exam will probably be the most stressful test of your life.  You have to learn to have some release during bar prep period and equally you need to acknowledge the inevitable stress the exam itself will present. 

When you get stressed out or you feel anxiety, your body responds by going into a fight or flight mode. 

This comes from your natural survival instinct. The most primitive part of your brain takes over, so you can survive that stressful or anxious situation.  I call this state of mind: cave man brain. 

The cave man (primitive) part of your brain takes over, and you lose access to the cognitive parts of your brain.  

Brain Pill - Vitamin B
Click here to check out the incredible powers of this pill

An example of this is the speaker who stands up in front of a room and forgets his speech. That’s because he got nervous.

He couldn’t remember any of his speech because the nervousness caused the cave man part of the brain to take over. 

It hinders your ability to think clearly and remember important concepts.

The same thing can happen to you on the bar exam. 

Some people will say, “well I can’t control it –I involuntarily become stressed or anxious.”

This may be true. However, knowing this fact, you now can consciously work on it and realize what potential internal disturbances are at play. 

Remember this…if you start to get nervous on the bar exam and just tell yourself: “Relax, focus, and just answer the question.”

This seems simple, but believe me, many people will fail the bar exam because the stress or anxiety consumed them. 

Don’t let that be you.  Woooosaw…

Bar Exam Tip # 6: use mnemonics to remember the elements tested on the exam

Each essay question has a scoring criteria in which the bar examinee is adjudged.  If your essay touches on specific terms set out in the bar exam, then you get a nice little check next to that scoring box.

If you hit on enough of the points in your essay response, then you’ll walk away with a handful of points and will probably be sitting better than the guy who does not cater his exam to the scoring criteria. 

The reason why you want to key in on the scoring criteria is that even if you write a killer essay, the bar examiner might give you a few style points, but you are not going to rack up the concrete points in the scoring criteria. 

This can be fatal to your overall score. 

That’s why it’s important to develop a study method that will allow you to quickly fire off the elements that are on the point list. 

Mnemonics for the Bar Exam

When you implement a systematic approach, like the mnemonics, your studying becomes something like that of military training. 

You’re following a strict procedure, and when the right fact pattern arises. Your brain triggers and you can chime off the elements.  

Let’s imagine a fact pattern: the witness in a trial said something critical to the case a year before the trial, but he is unable to make it to the trial to testify.  

Does his statement get in?

When you read this in an evidence essay, it should trigger the declarant unavailable exceptions.

Now, without looking anything up, what are the exceptions to hearsay when a declarant is unavailable?

You need to be able to rattle these off immediately…the bar exam is a battle of time.

You can use the mnemonics to maximize your time as well as remember these important concepts.  

First off, though, do not let the mnemonics throw you off. 

You need to follow the IRAC or CRAC format. However, when you get to the rule part of the format, you need to list off the rule.

If you had the mnemonics, you would quickly be able to write out the following:

Declarant Unavailable Exceptions (HAD IT)

H– family History

A- Abuse

D- Dying declaration

 I- statement against Interest

T- former Testimony

This will give you the foundation to write the rest of your essay.  Now mention a few other tangential things about evidentiary rules to potentially pick up a few extra points, and then start your analysis. 

You see the bar exam is a very rigorous mental battle, and if you can eliminate part of the thinking, and it just comes second nature, you’ve preserved that mental energy to apply to the analysis part of your essay writing, which is critical to harvesting points. 

The next step is to associate the acronym with something that relates to the Declarant being unavailable.

Well, this one is easy :  the Declarant HAD IT (had enough), so he’s not going to show up for trial.

What Areas of Law do the Bar Exam Mnemonics Cover?

The Bar Exam Mnemonics are specifically aimed at helping you attack the essays. Thus, we tried to create mnemonic devices that were specifically catered toward the areas tested most on the essays. 

The following are the subjects we created mnemonics for and the amount in each category :

Commercial Paper


Constitutional Law


Contracts & Sales




Criminal Law


Criminal Procedure




Family Law


Federal Jurisdiction and Procedure


Real Property


Secured Transactions










What Value Will I get out of using the Mnemonics on the Bar?

Even if the mnemonic devices only help you remember two or three concepts on the bar exam, the extra few points might make the difference between passing and failing. 

Most stories of people who fail, usually fail by 1-2 points. 

Because the bar examiners often have a tight curve, it is important to rack up any available points possible. In short, that means you need to memorize the elements.  This is particularly helpful for the essays. 

So, what’s the best way to memorize the massive amount of study material required for the bar exam?

We believe one of the most valuable tools that you can use are mnemonics.

Mnemonic devices have been used for years and years to allow people to easily memorize voluminous amounts of information.

Why wouldn’t you use this technique on the bar exam?

How to Use the Bar Exam Mnemonics to Study

The Bar Exam mnemonics should be printed out and a copy should be put on the back of your toilet as well as in the passenger seat of your car during the Bar prep period. 

Any time that you are at a stoplight or sitting in your car idly, pick up the study sheet and memorize the mnemonics. 

Write them on notecards as suggested above, and/or re-write them in outline form and leave the definition part blank to test yourself.  

Are the Bar Exam Mnemonics Worth it?

Let’s face it…most of the people reading this article are probably sitting on more than $50,000 in law school debt.  If you’re not, congratulations! You are one of the lucky ones. 

For those of you who have the debt, consider how much you have invested up to this point in time… You’re probably paying around $2000-3000 on the bar exam prep class. With student loans tacked on, the majority of you are probably somewhere north of $100,000. 

To put things in perspective: if you spend $9.99 on a mnemonics study guide for the bar exam, you’ve just invested around .001% of that $100,000.  That’s peanuts.

So the bottom line is: don’t short yourself now. 

You’ve already put this much time and money into becoming a lawyer.  If you don’t pass the bar exam, you can’t practice as a lawyer (which is nearly everyone’s reason for taking the bar exam).

Don’t cheat yourself out of valuable study tools…one point may be the difference between passing and failing.

25 Bar Exam Mnemonics E-book | $5.99 60 Bar Exam Mnemonics E-book | $9.99
Bar Exam Mnemonics Cover Page

Bar Exam Mnemonics Cover Page 2

Get your Bar Exam Mnemonics Study Guide by clicking one of the payment buttons above.



Watermelon Picnic Basket with Fruit Salad

Watermelon Fruit Basket - Brain Booster Food

Easy Recipe that Improves Memory and Brain Power

While this is probably not the recipe you want to prepare before a big exam, this is perfect for any picnic or outdoor get together.  Its very easy to make as you’ll see in the video, and you get to offer a unique, edible platter with a variety of fruit for many different palates.


Watermelon Fruit Basket
  1. 1 medium Watermelon
  2. 1 apple (any type)
  3. 1 cup grapes
  4. 4 strawberries
  1. 1. Outline the watermelon with a permanent marker or other tool that leaves prominent lines
  2. 2. Use a paring knife or other easy-to-handle knife to cut the lines you just drew with the marker.
  3. 3. Carve out the inside of the picnic basket handle.
  4. 4. Score the watermelon that remains in the bottom half of the picnic basket.
  5. 5. Scoop the scored watermelon into a medium sized bowl, leaving a watermelon wall in the middle of the picnic basket (acts as a divider for two different fruit salads)
  6. 6. Chop the apple and strawberries into preferred size.
  7. 7. Mix apple, strawberries, and grapes into a bowl.
  8. 8. Fill one side of the watermelon basket with the apple, strawberry, grape fruit salad.
  9. 9. Fill the other side of the watermelon basket with the watermelon that you scooped out.
  10. 10. Serve at a picnic or other outdoor event.
Improve Memory and Increase Brain Power with Food
 Watermelon Fruit Basket - Best Food for ExamsWatermelon Fruit Basket - Brain Boosting Food Watermelon Fruit Basket - Brain Boosting Exam Food

Best 6 Brain Foods for Exam Day

What to Eat for the Big Exam?

What is the best brain food to eat before the big exam? A question I’ve asked myself thousands of times. 

Is there really a good answer? Or does it depend on the person?

I wondered all of these things myself…

So I decided to research it. First, I read several books about using food to enhance brain functioning. Then I researched all over the internet looaking for a good answer to my question.

I couldn’t find any good one stop shop for brain foods for an exam. Most of the research I found lacked credibility or was not comprehensive enough for my liking.

Test Books Pic - SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT, BAR Exam

After I compiled the research, I tried these foods and concepts out myself.

So I put together my own research and documented those findings. You’ll see that most of the claimed benefits are supported by lab studies and research that have shown that the selected foods really do improve brain power and memory. 

The specific purpose of this article, however, is to educate you on the best food for an exam. If you use these foods and suggestions, you’ll have a very clear, sharp mind, and you’ll remember things much easier when it comes time to fill in the blank or write the essay.

So, after all of that research, how would I prepare food-wise for the big exam? 

First, let me tell you about my exam story.

I was facing law school exams. Law school exams were super intense and long, and the competition was fierce.  Everyone wanted that top rank because everyone in law school hyped up the big firm jobs:

they start at $100K+ right out of law school.

Plus, good grades meant you’d have a lot more job opportunities, even if the job paid a little less.

Thus, my goal was to set the curve. Generally, law school grades are based solely on one exam (sometimes there is a mid-term that could affect your grade but not usually in my experience).

So, do you just coast through law school with a questionable job market and risk unemployment upon graduation, or do you rise to the occasion?

This story isn’t just about law school or the bar exam though, and while the article is catered toward taking the bar or other exams, these foods and concepts are applicable to every walk of life.

Every day when you wake up in the morning, you’re faced with challenges… Tests, Exams, Performances. 

That’s just life.  It’s going to happen.

Your decision is to either: (1) prepare and excel…or (2) try to just skate by…

I put too much money into law school to risk unemployment, so there was no question for me. I was going to do everything I could to get a mental edge over the competition.

If I didn’t do well on the tests, I could expect to be unemployed and forever buried in a mountain of debt. The problem was that law school exams weren’t the end of it.

There was a more important, and exponentially worse exam that what I faced in law school.  The most difficult written test of my life…the bar exam.

The bar exam determines whether you can even work in the discipline in which you studied. It makes law school exams seem petty. It’s the ultimate exam. In the legal field, we might coin this exam as “the final arbiter” because it’s the final decider of whether you get to practice.

The inability to practice would not only be embarrassing, it would be wasting your newly acquired legal knowledge and the huge investment you sunk into law school.

With that being said, here’s what this article will cover:  

1.      A brief overview of the Bar Exam (so you can see what I was up against)

2.      The 6 best foods to boost your memory and improve overall cognitive functioning

3.      Overview and summary of the 6 best foods


Overview of the Bar Exam

The Bar Exam. A punishment I could not wish on my own worst enemy.

In fact, it’s painful just thinking about it. I will note, however, that it is a very necessary barrier that helps limit the legal profession to worthy and persistent individuals.

For prospective lawyers…I’m sorry. There’s no way around it.

It’s something you just have to take and pass.

First off, let’s take a look at the prospects for bar exam takers.  I couldn’t find a lot of good recent data on passage rates by state, but the California Bar exam passage rate for the Summer of 2014 was a whopping 48.6%!

The following are the 2010-2011 top 10 lowest bar exam passage rates by state:

Bar Exam Pass Rates Chart in 2010 - 2011

Based on this chart, 2-3 out of 10 people in these states are not going to make the cut.  In our current situation in California, 5 out of 10 people will fail.

Which side do you want to fall on?

Click to hear more about My Experience With the Bar Exam

Click here to see the first memory booster food to help you ace your exam.

Best 6 Brain Foods for Exams: My Bar Exam Experience

My Bar Exam Experience

I’ve lived through the exam on my regular diet, and I’ve lived through it using the concepts and foods contained on this website.

The difference was night and day. 

I had mental clarity, absorbed every word, and recalled legal concepts that I barely even learned.

When I took the test on a regular diet, I felt tired, unable to maintain focus (or only could concentrate when I had fresh caffeine in me), and I just wasn’t seeing the information with the same clarity. 

Because the mental challenge was so rigorous, I could really feel the difference when I was on the two diets.

Yes…it could have been sleep issues or just knowing the material better or a number of other factors. 

But sometimes you know your body, and you can just tell.

I’ve incorporated these same foods and concepts into my personal and professional life and have seen a noticeable difference. 

These foods enhance your ability to recall information, help you maintain concentration, and allow you to stay focused on the task at hand.

This enhanced memory and alertness is a necessity for the bar exam. 

Click here for 6 tips to improve your score on the bar exam! 

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Intro to the Bar Exam

It will probably be one of the most difficult tests of your life (at least in the context of written exams). 

In two months you’re expected to memorize crazy amounts of material, 16-22 different topics depending on the jurisdiction.  The competition is stiff. 

People are studying day and night, trying to outdo the next applicant. Waking up at the crack of dawn to watch lectures or make notecards or take practice tests.

There’s just not enough time to study everything sufficiently, much less, work or try to be productive outside of bar prep.

That time crunch and the fear of not knowing all the material puts you on edge.

You constantly search for any way you can to make study time more effective (especially if you have other things to do, i.e., around the house, work, go out with friends—the list is endless). 

But, what if you didn’t need as much study time because you retained everything you studied?

There’s obviously no guarantee, but the best way to set yourself up for success is to eat the right foods.    

Click on to find out how to set yourself up for success with the first Exam Super Food.    Next Arrow     

Best 6 Brain Foods for Exams: Strawberries

1. The first memory boosting food for your exam is: Strawberries

Most people love strawberries.  They’re sweet, juicy, and delicious. 

Most people don’t know, however, that strawberries are excellent for improving your memory and overall brain functioning. 

Numerous studies have shown the ability of strawberries to prevent or even reverse the mental decline that occurs with aging.

Many of the studies that support this concept were conducted on rats. The rats were put through various mental and motor skill tests and given a diet of only strawberries. The studies showed that the rats had distinguishable gains in both areas.

Further and more specifically, the overwhelming majority of studies found that including strawberries into the rats’ diets showed significant improvement in memory (both short-term and long-term) and improved their concentration. This could be explained because many people would classify the following abilities: motor skills, memory, and concentration as distant (or close) cousins.

Brain Food for Exams - Strawberry

See more research about strawberries at 31 Super Foods for Memory. (open new window)

Some doctors and dietitians point to the high vitamin C content.  Others say that it’s a synergistic effect of the various antioxidants in the strawberries. 

It could also come from the manganese and fiber in them. Manganese is a trace mineral that is essential to the normal functioning of your brain and nerves.

The fiber assists in regulating blood sugar levels.  Fiber also assists in reducing excess cholesterol, which is extremely beneficial for your brain because the neuronal membrane is composed of lipids.  If you have too much dietary cholesterol, the membrane can harden (or lose flexibility) and adversely affect the neurons’ ability to communicate. 

 It’s difficult to tell why strawberries improve your memory and concentration, but the bottom line is that the studies speak for themselves…strawberries are a super brain food.

After hearing about the brain benefits, your first inclination is to eat as many strawberries as possible.

Why not? It increases brain power.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Strawberries

But, you should always consider the amount of sugars, the glycemic index and glycemic load of the foods you eat.  

We know what sugars are…that’s common sense, but not everyone knows about the glycemic index.  The glycemic index is basically a rating scale that reflects the effect that foods have on our blood sugar levels and insulin. 

Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) cause quick spikes in blood sugar and insulin and promote fat storage whereas low GI foods allow you to maintain a more stable blood sugar level and do not stimulate the mechanisms that cause your body to store fat. 

Why do we care about the sugar levels in our food? 

Sugar can greatly hinder your memory and overall brain functioning, so we have to be sure that the foods we’re eating don’t clog up our brains or arteries with nasty sugars. 

Let’s look at the glycemic index scales and how each food is rated:Glycemic Index Chart with Explanation

Many scholars argue as to whether the glycemic index is an accurate way to assess food’s effect on blood sugar.  The argument essentially points to the portions used in arriving at the glycemic index number. 

The criticism is that these foods are not an accurate reflection of what a person would eat in a regular sitting.

Researchers at Harvard accounted for these criticisms and created the Glycemic load.

The Glycemic load is a general evaluation of foods and their effect on a person’s blood glucose level.  One unit on the glycemic load scale is supposed to be equivalent to one gram of glucose in the person’s blood.

Here is a chart that explains the glycemic load ranking system:

Glycemic Load Chart with Explanation


Let’s look at the sugars, glycemic index and glycemic load in a cup of strawberries (note: the numbers are an approximation or average from several sources found in the references section):

Exam Brain Food - Strawberries - Sugars, Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load


As you can see, strawberries are low in glycemic index and glycemic load.  Thus, they do not pose a substantial threat of drastically increasing blood glucose levels. 

Keep this in mind, but also remember that overindulgence in anything can pose its risks.

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Best 6 Brain Foods for Exams: Blueberries

Why Blueberries for Exam Time?

Blueberries or Vaccinium cyanococcus are loaded with something called flavonoids.  Flavonoids have strong antioxidant properties and are responsible for cell signaling pathways. That means they control the cell communications.

Like strawberries, blueberries have a similar if not more beneficial effect in reducing or preventing mental decline with age. Brain Food for Exams: Blueberries

Every brain cell is critical to memory and optimal functioning. Blueberries have the ability to eradicate free radicals and protect your brain cells from unwanted damage.

Not only do blueberries up your brain power, they have the ability to increase motor skillstoo.  These similarities with strawberries suggest that perhaps the polyphenols are responsible for stepping your brain up. 

Blueberries are so powerful that recent studies have evaluated the enhancement of rat brains after neural transplants.  The findings were shocking…

The research showed that the rats’ whose diet was supplemented with blueberries experienced tremendously more growth in the hippocampal grafts than the rats that were fed a control diet.

See more research about blueberries at 31 Super Foods for Memory

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Blueberries

Let’s take a look at the sugars, glycemic index and glycemic load of blueberries (note: the numbers are an approximation or average from several sources found in the references section):Best Exam Foods - Blueberries - Sugars, Glycemic Index & Glycemic LoadClick here to see the next best Exam Food for Memory.

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Best 6 Brain Foods for Exams: Spinach

3. The Next Best Brain Food for the Big Exam is: Spinach

If you have to pick one go to brain food, spinach should be it. It has a ridiculous amount of nutrients and other vitamins

Let’s take a look at some of the Nutrients in Spinach:

Nutrients in Spinach - calcium, choline, copper, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, omega-3 fats, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, zinc, l-tyrosine, potassium, selenium

Let’s look at some of the nutrients in spinach to see why it’s so beneficial for improving your ability to focus and for overall cognitive functioning.

First, let’s look at Manganese. Manganese is also found in two of the other brain foods we talked about—blueberries and strawberries. That could be because Manganese is one of the minerals responsible for keeping your brain operational and functioning normally. 

It has various enzymes that assist in forming connective tissues. Perhaps manganese is responsible for the growth of the hippocampal grafts in the brains of the rats that were examined in the blueberry studies.  It’s difficult to pinpoint the one nutrient that directly caused these results, but the examination of the rats brains showed significant development and worked as a brain booster for the rats.

Perhaps just as important, if not more, for brain function is the presence of Vitamin B and Folate. Spinach is loaded with both. 

Folate plays a role in decreasing levels of amino acids that can impair brain functioning. Specifically, it protects the body against homocysteine, an amino acid that blocks up and damages your blood vessels.

Researchers also suggest that Vitamin B keeps your brain young.  Many of these scholars are proponents of the philosophy that Vitamin B has the ability to aid or fortify the brain stem to preserve your brain and boost overall functioning.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Spinach

Let’s take a look at the sugars, glycemic index and glycemic load of Spinach (note: the numbers are an approximation or average from several sources found in the references section):Brain Food for Exam - Spinach - Sugars, Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load

Glycemic Index Chart with Explanation
Glycemic Load Chart with Explanation

Click here for the next Exam Power Food

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Best 6 Brain Foods for Exams: Walnuts

4. The Next Best Brain Food for Exams is: Walnuts

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign? [blockquote]

“Signs” by Five Man Electrical Band

The moral of the song is to read the signs.

Now let’s apply this moral to life, and since we’re talking about walnuts, let’s observe…

What does a walnut look like?

Best Exam Foods - Walnut v Human Brain

The sign doesn’t get much clearer than that…

That’s my spiritual side talking though.  If all of the evidence on this website were based on that type of reasoning, you probably shouldn’t rely on it. 

However, the analysis does not conclude there.  Now we get to talk about the science and nutrient make-up of walnuts and why they are a brain booster food.   

Perhaps the most revered characteristic of a walnut is its abundant supply of omega 3 fatty acids.  Omega 3 fatty acids have been thoroughly studied in numerous medical disciplines due to their widespread health benefits. 

Specifically, Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied in the field of psychology due to their ability or purported ability to prevent and/or regulate depression.

While some of you may be sitting there thinking:

This site is supposed to be about brain function, plus I’m not depressed, so why do I care? 

You should care though.  Because the reality is that mood has a direct effect on brain functioning. Mood is just one of the moving parts involved, and it has to work in conjunction with the rest of your body to allow you to perceive, process, and react. 

When you’re really upset or in fear for your life, or have any instinctual feeling or reaction, you go into fight or flight mode.  The most primitive part of your brain takes over.  I call it cave man brain.

When this happens, your brain’s ability to communicate with the frontal lobe, which is responsible for higher cognition, is severely limited.

It’s one explanation for your friend who can tell you a great story, but when he has to go up in front of a big crowd, he forgets everything he’s supposed to say.  That’s because he got nervous, and the primitive part of his brain took over.

If you’re constantly depressed or bi-polar or emotionally unstable, it’s difficult to worry about higher cognitive functioning.

So the idea is to keep a balanced mood and demeanor, so you don’t have to worry about the primitive part of your brain affecting your ability to communicate with the frontal lobe.

So, whether you’re depressed or not, mood is important. 

More evidence of the health benefits of Omega-3 in Walnuts:

Omega 3 fatty acids have received significant praise in the medical and dietary fields because of the slew of health benefits they provide.  These acids are responsible for acting as a casing for neurons.  Other pages of this website discuss exactly how omega-3 works with neurons.  You can find that information at 31 Brain Boosting Foods.

Various authority in the field would even go as far as to suggest that it may play a major role in preventing cancer. In his book, Anti-Cancer, the belated Dr. Servan-Schreiber posited the idea that creating a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids could be one of the most effective measures we can take to protect our bodies against cancer. 

His theory was that cancer is typically a product of inflammation.  In order to fight disease, the body goes through a process called angiogenesis.  Angiogenesis is when the body creates new blood vessels out of existing vessels, so it can get more white blood cells to the infected area. 

Dr. Servan-Schreiber suggests that military headquarters are created at the center of the inflamed area, and angiogenesis is the body’s mechanism for providing reinforcements. 

However, cancer cells have the ability to turn that military headquarters against our bodies, causing the newly formed blood vessels to act as reinforcements for the cancer cells, which then attacks our own bodies. 

If we never have inflammation or it is greatly reduced, then we will not have to deal with angiogenesis (as much), and the military headquarters will never coalesce.

Additionally, cerebral edema (inflammation) hinders our brain’s ability to properly function.  Thus, if inflammation can be prevented or at least mitigated through omega-3 intake, our brains will be in a better position to function on all cylinders.

Brain Boosting Ability of Arginine

There are numerous varieties of nuts out there. Here’s a short list of some of Walnuts relatives, which are classified in the tree nut category:

Different Varieties of Tree Nuts

Out of all of these nuts, why are walnuts the best nut for your brain?

It could be linked to a number of different nutrients, but one notable distinction between walnuts and the other nuts is that walnuts are the only nut that contain a significant amount of L-arginine.

When it comes to the various nut varieties, black walnuts have been found to have the most L-argenine with about one ounce containing 1,130 mg of L-arginine.  

L-arginine is a vasodilator.  That means it expands your blood vessels by relaxing the smooth muscle cells in them.  This creates more blood flow, and oxygen, throughout the body, which means more blood is getting to your brain. 

Walnuts’ ability to increase melatonin levels

A research investigation team at The University of Texas Health Science Center tested the melatonin levels in walnuts and found that it is present.  The team also tested whether eating walnuts raises levels of melatonin in the blood and the increase in total antioxidant capacity. Studies have shown that patients with Alzheimer’s disease (the memory disease) had significantly low levels of melatonin. Clinical studies have found that individuals supplemented their diets with melatonin have been able to prevent the effects of Alzheimer’s or at least delay its onset.

Based on a study conducted on rats that were administered a drug, haloperidol, which deteriorates rat brains in a similar fashion to that of Alzheimer’s. The rats were later given doses of melatonin, which showed a reversal in the rats by significantly improving memory retention deficits.   

Further Examination of the Brain Boosting Abilities of Walnuts

Walnuts also have Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) which is another inflammation reducer and has the ability to reduce blood clotting.

Dr. Lenore Arab at the David Geffen School of Medicine spearheaded a project that used a series of six cognitive tests.  Dr. Arab and the research team found that the participants that had a higher walnut intake performed much better on the tests. 

It doesn’t take a significant amount of walnuts either. Dr. Arab recommends a handful a day for better mental health.

Best Exam Foods - Walnuts - Sugars, Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load

Click here to see the next Best Exam Food 

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Out of full disclosure, we do receive a commission from purchases made through the links on this site–the goal is to try to cover server costs and put the money back into the site to create a more extensive database, so we can provide better information for the readers.

 Disclaimer: the products on this page may not contain the exact ingredients, amounts or information discussed on this page.  We recommend that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product and that you do not rely solely on the information contained on this website. 

Best 6 Brain Foods For Exams: Salmon

The Next Best Brain Food for Exams is: Salmon

Salmon is loaded with the omega-3 fatty acid Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Because Omega-3 fatty acids were covered generally in the discussion about walnuts, DHA’s specific brain boosting effect will be discussed here. 

This article will also talk about the brain benefits the come from the high protein content as well as some of the dangers of eating too much salmon and the best type of salmon you can eat for your brain.

Garlic Honey Dijon Salmon Salad with Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette
Garlic Honey Dijon Salmon Salad with Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette

1. How is DHA a Brain Booster?

DHA has the ability to create protectins.  Protectins are known to “protect[] normal bystander cells from lysis” or destruction.  When nerve tissues form protectins, they possess anti-apoptotic (the ability to protect neuro-bioactivity) characteristics.  They also have the ability to prevent cerebral edema (inflammation of the brain). 

Some vegetarians will opt to get their omega-3 fatty acid intake, specifically DHA, from flaxseeds, walnuts, or other dark leafy green vegetables.  However, the only issue is that the foregoing foods contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA), not DHA.

Your body has to transform the ALA into DHA, which is not always a certain.  Various factors, including high saturated fat levels, can prevent or hinder the body from successfully converting ALA into EPA or DHA.  Accordingly, without salmon, your body may never receive an adequate supply of DHA. 

As such, supplementing salmon with brain vitamins may be a good alternative for vegetarians.  See DHA recommendation below.

2. High Protein Content & Its Memory Booster Attributes

Protein supplies your body with amino acids.  The amino acids then create neurotransmitters which control brain functioning and are responsible for boosting functioning.  Proteins also act as a guide for nerve cells in your brain. 

Protein intake is also responsible for increasing tyrosine levels in your body.  This increase causes your neurons to create neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which boost your focus and alertness.  Salmon also has protein molecules called bioactive peptides.  These protein molecules have shown to reduce inflammation in the stomach and digestive tract.  Dr. Perlmutter posited the theory that the health of your brain has a strong correlation to the health of your stomach and digestive tract. 

3. Dangers of Salmon & Best Type of Salmon to Eat for a Better Memory

Fish consumption can be dangerous because of certain contaminants.  The two major ones you have to worry about are: (1) mercury and (2) polychlorinated biphenyls.  Both of these contaminants can be deleterious to health and overall brain functioning. 

A physician in San Francisco, Dr. Jane Hightower conducted a study on 89 patients, testing their mercury intake and various symptoms the patients had.  Dr. Hightower ultimately proposed the idea that excessive mercury levels caused decreased memory and concentration and negatively affected the patients’ ability to focus. 

If you eat the wrong Salmon, you may be unnecessarily subjecting yourself to nasty toxins. Researchers studied the amount of polychlorinated biphenyls in farmed salmon vs. wild salmon.  The following are the amounts found in each respective fish:Contaminants in Farmed Salmon v Wild Salmon

This is an incredible difference of contaminant intake, and it can be avoided simply by knowing where to get the wild salmon.  Dr. Logan, an expert in nutritional neuroscience and author of an exceptional book on mental health and intelligence entitled The Brain Diet, suggests that around 90% of salmon in North America is farmed.  He also notes that a vast majority of canned salmon is wild.

While it may be ideal to eat fresh wild salmon, your best alternative is canned.  By eating canned salmon, you can still get the brain boost from the salmon without all the brain busting contaminants.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Salmon

Brain Food For Exam - Salmon - Sugars, Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load

Glycemic Load Chart with ExplanationGlycemic Index Chart with Explanation

For those of you that don’t like the taste of salmon or fish, try supplementing your diet with Omega-3 Pills or Krill Oil.

DHA was discussed above, but some dietitians would recommend Omega-3 fatty acids with both EPA and DHA because they work synergistically. In recent news, Krill oil has been highly touted for its great benefits without as many contaminants because mercury levels that are found in predatory fish are not present in krill.

Some doctors suggest that the EPA is responsible for the intercommunications among and between the various types of nerves, which directly affects communication in your brain. Studies have also shown that EPA intake has greatly assisted children with ADHD in improving their concentration and cognitive ability. 

Click here to learn about the Sixth Best Brain Food for Memory on Exams

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Out of full disclosure, we do receive a commission from purchases made through the links on this site–the goal is to try to cover server costs and put the money back into the site to create a more extensive database, so we can provide better information for the readers.

 Disclaimer: the products on this page may not contain the exact ingredients, amounts or information discussed on this page.  We recommend that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product and that you do not rely solely on the information contained on this website. 

Best 6 Brain Foods for Exams: Broccoli

5. Broccoli: One of the Best 6 Foods for Exam Day

Exam Food: Broccoli

Broccoli has a strong arsenal of nutrients.  A few of them specifically aid in brain functioning as well as a few other brain aids of broccoli that are not in the chart. 

Nutrients in Broccoli - calcium, copper, fluoride, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc

1. Sulforaphane & its Evil Cell Targeting Properties

Sulforaphane is found in foods like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, sulforaphane has been found to treat leukemia.  The sulforaphane is broken down in your body from compounds in the broccoli called glucosinolates.

Dr. Emily Ho, researcher and professor at Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, believes that the sulforaphane acts as a heat-seeking missile against cancer cells by specifically targeting them without destroying healthy cells. The sheer antioxidant capacity of being able to target cells is just one reason it’s a brain booster.

2. High potassium content and Neural/Cognitive benefit

The abundant source of potassium in broccoli helps your body more easily communicate.  It’s beneficial for the nervous system because the exchange of ions in your nerve cells is often dependent upon a sodium-potassium exchange, which is where sodium-potassium pumps push sodium cells out of one cell and force potassium into that cell. 

3. Choline, Neurotransmitters, & Memory

Choline is a precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Because acetylcholine is one of the neurotransmitters that helps concentration, memory, and acts as an overall brain enhancer, you need it readily available in your diet. Choline gives your brain the fuel to synthesize acetylcholine, which provides the spark for the lightbulb to turn on in your brain. 

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Broccoli

Best Exam Foods - Broccoli - Sugar Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load

Click to see the conclusion of the 6 Best Brain Foods for Exam Day 

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