Myth of Memorization on the Bar Exam

Many bar takers are obsessed with the idea of memorization. It’s something a lot of students have concerns with and something I think about, too.

I think it comes from a place of insecurity. They say, “As long as I memorize this perfectly, I will be set for the bar exam.”

No, that’s not the point!

This is a common thought process, especially for those starting out. Yes, you do want to memorize as early as you can. And yes, you def want to know the material before the bar.

It’s not that I’m ragging on memorization. You should memorize. It’s table stakes. Everyone’s doing it. It’s a minimum requirement. Just a cost of entry.

I do want to point out what bar students miss when they get tunnel vision around memorization. Don’t miss the forest for the trees:

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Memorizing for the Bar Exam: How to Remember and Recite the Rules

There’s this weird phenomenon where you meet someone new and then 1 second later it’s impossible to remember each other’s names.

If I didn’t care about them 10 seconds ago, I’m not gonna care about them all of a sudden as if they were my newborn (whom I’d name Genghis (Hahn) so I don’t forget).

But what can I say? It’s impressive, for that exact reason, when someone actually remembers your name in conversation without having to say “sorry what was your name again? I’m so terrible with names hahahahaha.”

One of the themes I advocate is to focus more on “big wins” and needle movers. Not spending an ungodly number of hours exhausting yourself with lectures, flashcard arts and crafts, or endless memorization.

However, memorizing (or more directly, remembering) is still an unavoidable base requirement for succeeding on your essays and the MBE.

And the fact is, your bar exam requires you to remember a LOT. The typical brain is made for processing data but not so much for forcing discrete information to be inscribed into your memory forever.

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