Memorizing for the Bar Exam: What You Need to Know

At what point should I start memorizing for the bar exam?

With the bar exam approaching, you’ve likely been reviewing materials for weeks. But reviewing isn’t memorizing.

And while studying and practice exams help you absorb some rules and elements, your final phase of bar prep should focus on making sure you’ve got all the key bar exam concepts committed to memory.

When to start?

So, the question is, when do you start memorizing? While there’s no bright line rule for everyone, the short answer is: soon. 

Memorization can be accomplished within just one or two weeks before the bar exam, so don’t worry if you haven’t started.

But the most effective way to memorize for the bar exam is to start three to four weeks before the exam. Start with dedicating a small portion of your day to memorizing. As you move forward, memorization should take up a bigger portion of your bar prep.

Where to start?

Start small, focusing on areas within a subject. For example, don’t task yourself with “memorizing evidence.” Rather, start with memorizing hearsay rules (i.e., defining and identifying hearsay, and knowing the exceptions). Then move to another area like character evidence. The idea is to break it down into chunks. 

Expand your memorization process

As you move through more chunks of bar exam issues to memorize, you’ll have more to review. With about three weeks left before the bar exam, you’ll want to make sure you’re revisiting subjects you’ve already committed to memory. 

This means you should be committing more time to memorizing - both quizzing yourself on material you’ve already memorized and getting to the material you haven’t. 

By the last two weeks, you should focus primarily on reviewing what you’ve memorized and taking practice tests to assess how well you’re applying and absorbing those concepts.

What’s the best way to memorize?

We’ve gone through when to memorize, but perhaps the bigger question is: how should you memorize? This requires knowing yourself and what works best for you. But if you’re not sure what route to go, we’ve outlined two paths below.

Use Context-Based Memorization

You should stick with what works for you, but you also want to make sure that your memorization isn't just recitation of rules and elements. You want to make sure when you've got a rule memorized, you're able to think about how that rule works in concept. 

A great way to do this is to think of a hypothetical MBE question or essay issue that could involve what you've memorized.

When you're visualizing how a concept works, not just what it is, you're memorizing much more effectively.

Using Critical Pass to memorize

We’re biased, but flashcards are certainly effective for memorizing. If you have Critical Pass, you should make sure you’re marking them up - notes, highlights, etc. - as you memorize. When you’re flipping through and working on memorization, focus on the key issues you’ve marked and highlighted. 

Our app also has 1000+ quiz questions on black letter law you can use to test your memorization.

The takeaway

If you haven't started memorizing yet, don't stress. Make a plan to work on memorization. Start small, and don't forget to assess your progress.

Good luck studying!


MBE and MEE Essay Flashcards that help you learn and memorize key bar exam concepts, effectively and affordably.

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