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.
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|
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.
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?
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.
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):
Use the following ingredients to make a smoothie:
- 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.
Bar Exam Lunch
Use the following ingredients to make a salad:
- Canned salmon or wild salmon ideally
- Oil based dressing (Vinaigrette – 2 parts olive oil; 1 part balsamic vinegar)
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.
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:
- Red Wine (this one is not necessarily a snack, but overall good for brain functioning in small amounts, and well-needed after the exam)
- 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)
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.
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:
- B Complex
- Krill Oil
If you want to take 6 vitamins and supplements then you should consider:
- Vitamin E (tocotrienols and tocopherols)
- Co-Q10 enzyme
- 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).
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.
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.
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:
- Terms you already know
- 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.
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.
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
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 :
Contracts & Sales
Federal Jurisdiction and Procedure
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.
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