Guest Writer: Food & Notetaking

Note: The views expressed herein belong solely to the author and are not necessarily those of Critical Pass.

It has been a few weeks since Bar Prep has started and it’s been a round-the-clock endeavor. In these past weeks, I have developed a routine and found a rhythm. There are two things that stand out as important and significant in my studying:

1. FOOD

Having the right food to nurture and support your studying is key. I make sure that when I wake up I make myself a hearty breakfast and enjoy it prior to studying. Then I know I am charged and reading to study for the day. Whatever you plan to eat make sure it’s full of nutrients and going to sustain you until your next meal. Food and sleep are the single most important things you can do for yourself as you study for the bar exam. Those are two things I do not skimp on as I know they are what are helping me get through these long arduous days.

2. NOTETAKING

I am using the Barbri program to help me study for the California exam and I did this for the sole reason that I know the CA bar exam is one of the most difficult in the country. I wanted this to be one and over endeavor. Hence, what I have been doing are taking notes of my lectures, and reviewing my notes. Cognitive science shows that taking notes by hand helps learners retain more information than by typing, but hey, whatever helps you learn.

As for me, I take notes by hand and with the computer. One way I have been taking notes by hand is by annotating my Critical Pass flashcards. I have noticed that the lectures follow the order of the flashcards and as the lecturer is reviewing one topic I have my card in front of me annotating it with anything the lecturer says that isn’t already on the card. This includes bar exam taking tips, highlighting topics the lecturer says are bar exam favorites, etc. Doing this has helped me retain more information than passively listening to the lecture or passively typing notes. I highly recommend it.

In addition to these two things, I have also been doing practice questions each and every day, even if they are not part of the course’s study plan for the day. I do this because I know that practice questions are important for assessing what I am learning, but also solidifying what I know. Until next time -- when I will report back on how I did on my California Practice Test, which we had to submit on Wednesday.

-- Claudia Quintero, J.D.
2017 graduate of Western New England University School of Law


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