The bar exam is almost universally recognized as one of the most difficult professional exams that one could take. In fact, on average, somewhere between 20% and 40% of people who take the bar exam will fail it on their first try.
With this in mind, it makes sense to do everything you can to ensure you are properly prepared before taking this test. Flashcards are a very popular study tool for any topic, but should you make flashcards for the bar exam?
There is no simple answer to this question. For some people, flashcards will be a great tool to help them to learn key pieces of information. For others, it will serve as little more than a distraction that should be avoided. Read through some of the pros and cons of using flashcards to help you study for your bar exam so you can decide if they are right for you.
Advantages of Flashcards for the Bar Exam
People have been using flashcards to help them memorize information for generations, and they can be very effective. The bar exam, however, is unlike most other types of tests. Despite this, flashcards still offer some great advantages that may make them a great tool for you.
Great for Rote Memorization
While much of the bar exam is going to require a deep understanding of legal topics, there are some questions that can benefit from memorizing specific case law information. Flashcards are great when you need to memorize facts, so consider using them for this aspect of your study strategy.
Almost everyone has used flashcards to help them study for some type of test or exam in the past. The process for using them really could not be easier. If you are the type of person who can sometimes be overwhelmed with the process of studying, the familiarity of flashcards can help ease your anxiety. When you are not sure what to do to study, you can always grab your flashcards and start going through them.
Can be Used Anywhere
One of the best things about flashcards is the fact that you can take them with you anywhere you go and use them to study. If you spend time on a commute where you are not driving, for example, this tool may be ideal. They can also be used while on a walk or any other situation where you have a few minutes of downtime.
Ideal for Studying with a Partner
If you have a friend or family member who is also studying for the bar exam, or just someone who wants to help you, flashcards can be helpful. With two people, you are not able to just look on the back of the card to get the answer. Your study partner can also give you hints to try to trigger the right answer, which can help you to learn more effectively than just looking it up yourself.
Disadvantages of Flashcards for the Bar Exam
With so many different study guides and tools to help you with the bar exam, it is good to ask if you really should make flashcards for the bar exam. For some people, the disadvantages of this particular study tool will outweigh the advantages. The following are some of the biggest issues that people have when it comes to using flashcards to study for the bar exam.
Memorization Over Understanding
The biggest problem most people will have with using flashcards for the bar exam is that they are best for memorization rather than deep understanding. The bar exam is made specifically to ensure those who are taking the test understand complex legal concepts, and requires testtakers to display a full understanding beyond rote memorization. Memorizing case numbers or dates may be useful in some situations, but not for this exam.
May Not be Focused Enough
If you purchase pre-made bar exam flashcards, you may find that they cover far too much irrelevant information, since the exam covers a wide variety of information and you may already be comfortable with specific topics. Time you spend looking at flashcards related to topics you do not need help on could be better spent in other areas.
Can be Time Consuming to Create
If you decide to create your own flashcards, it can take quite a bit of time to decide what topics to cover, not to mention writing out the full questions and answers. When going this route, make sure you are only making the cards for the topics you are struggling with. While the time spent creating the cards may be significant, the process of writing them out may actually help you to remember some information, which may be a benefit.
Issues with Pre-Made Flashcards
If you are looking to purchase flashcards that were made specifically for the bar exam, you need to be careful to ensure you get the right ones. A significant portion of the bar exam is going to be state-specific. If you purchase flashcards that either contain information about another state, or do not cover your state’s laws, they may end up doing more harm than good. Of course, this problem can be solved by creating your own flashcards, but if you take that route, make sure you are including information regarding your state that is expected to be on the exam.
Is Studying for the Bar Exam with Flashcards Right for You?
While flashcards are not the ideal study tool for every aspect of the bar exam, they can certainly have their place in your overall study routine. If you need help memorizing key information or you just want an extra option for studying specific legal topics, flashcards can be effective.
The important thing to remember if you do choose to use this tool is to ensure you are making the flashcards in a way that will allow you get the most benefit from them. No matter what study tools you use, the bar exam is going to require a lot of hard work and many hours of effort, but in the end, it will be worth it! Good luck!