How to Study Law Effectively


Effective study is vital to passing law school and the BAR exam for the state in which you will practice. Law is a complicated topic and has more gray areas than black and white, requiring not only memorization of the laws, but also critical thinking to apply the laws. Studying effectively will allow you to remember information, application and methods of handling laws when you graduate and take the BAR exam and begin your career.

  • Read through the law texts thoroughly. The only way to learn the information in the books is through active reading. Take your time and read each sentence. If you do not understand, re-read it. For words that are complicated or confusing, look them up.

  • Take notes. Notes are not only taken in formal classes, but also from the book, study guides and any other legal sources you are using for the class. Taking notes will allow you to determine what information is important, where you struggle and what items to look up later. Initial notes, especially those taken in class, might have a messy appearance, so you should also re-write your notes later to create your own personal study guides. Make the rewritten notes neat and orderly and include any definitions you need.

  • Read through free online study guides or resources for law. For example, look at Lexisnexis or Studyworld. Study guides are brief notes of the important information you need to learn about in different areas of law.

  • Memorize the laws. Use flashcards or notes of some kind to learn the laws. While the BAR exam and tests in class will look at application of laws rather than rote memorization, you need to know the laws and definitions of the laws before you are able to work through appropriate applications.

  • Practice writing essays. Law is about the application of laws and one method of working on your critical thinking and application skills is through essay writing. Writing an essay will not only require you to know the laws, but also requires you to think through how to law is applied and where you would use it.

  • Take practice tests. Practice tests allow you to learn not only the form of the multiple choice questions, but also the ways to evaluate different law questions and determine how to find the appropriate answers. When you take the practice test, evaluate your end results thoroughly. Take your time and look up where you went wrong in each wrong answer. If you forgot one of the black letter laws, go back and look it up. If you misread the question or a term in the question changed the answer, note the question and read through it thoroughly to ensure you learn the trick of the question.

  • Get help when you need it. Effective studying is not only active, but also admits when you need help. If you cannot understand a law or are unable to determine how to apply the law in practice, ask your teacher for help in understanding the concept or get a tutor to explain the particular area of difficulty.


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