California Bar Exam: How to Memorize and Make it Stick

Hello Bar Studiers!

I hope your studies are going well. I have provided some tips below to help you in your memorization. But, first I wanted to share one of our recent testimonials about our Bar Exam Predictions and Cram Package. I am so happy that students are happy! These final days are so critical. See below for memorization tips

Bar None Testimonial CramPackage


How to Memorize and Make it Stick!

One very effective way to memorize material is to do what is called transferring. Transferring is the process of taking parts of the material you are reviewing and writing it down in another place. Studies have shown that this process helps us to retain the information in our long term memory. I have personally used this technique for memorization leading up to to successful bar rounds.

The idea is not that you are rewriting your outlines but, instead you are writing out selected portions that will reflect your broader knowledge. It simply isn’t feasible to memorize 100 page outlines and expect to be able to write a successful essay answer. Instead, you need to use less, memorize a top level of the topics so that you can successfully navigate your exam.

Here is an example of what you might do to memorize the Products Liability approach. (Note: you can write more or less than what I have suggested. However, it is very important to recognize that you are not writing everything down, but instead lifting and transferring what you need to remember from the approach). This will enable you to have a memorized structure (that you can fill in with your analysis) on exam day.

Write out the following introductory statement for Products Liability introductory statement and then write out all the main headings that would represent your approach for each area of Products Liability, for example:

A products liability suit may be based upon one or more of the following causes of actions: 1) Intentional Tort, 2) Negligence, 3) Strict Liability, 4) Breach of Implied Warranty (Warranty of Merchantability or Warranty of fitness for particular purpose) or Express Warranty.

  1. Intentional Tort theory, Battery, prove up substantial certainty
  2. Negligence (Duty reasonable manufacturer, retailer, etc., Breach: prove negligent design, negligent manufacturing or negligent warning (usually it is both negligent design and negligent warning, Causation: actual and proximate, Damages: actual, Defenses: Assumption of Risk, Contributory Negligence)
    *If time, you should attempt to discuss Palsgraf (applying the Cardozo and Andrews views under duty to determine who is owed a duty).
  3. Strict Products Liability: (Proper Defendant – anyone in the commercial chain, Prove up Defective Product (defective product is one that is unreasonably dangerous such that strictly liability attaches. To prove defective product must show there was 1) a manufacturing defect, 2) design defect, or 3) warning defect.

    Causation (quick sentence or two that P’s injuries were caused by the defective product, you can supra back to your negligence discussion to save time).

    Defenses: include: assumption of risk, misuse, learned intermediary, state of the art, etc. But Contributory Negligence is never a defense to Strict Products Liability!

  4. Warranty TheoriesImplied Warranty of Merchantability – is always present in products. Implied into every sale that goods are of “fair and average quality” and “fit for the ordinary purpose,” Implied Warranty of Fitness for Particular Purpose: Not always present. Seller makes statement about product or label on product explains effectiveness (96% effective), Express Warranty: Not always present. If have facts above under Implied Warranty, then there is likely an Express Warranty issue as well and could also have Fraud or Misrep.

    Fraud or Misrep?

    Not always present, but if a statement was made by seller or manufacturer warranting the product was to do x, y or z, and buyer purchased relying on this statement, then P may have cause of action for fraud or misrep. Keep in mind that fraud is very difficult to prove, but worth addressing if the fact pattern lends itself. (note that misrepresentation was tested on the February 2018 bar exam, still it is often part of a products liability exam – either on the essays or MBEs)

    What would you add or take away?

    The above is what I might come up with for myself. I might add a few things, but this is essentially it. You may not be able to create something like this for every topic, but you should 1) do this for any topic or area that is difficult for you and 2) you should do this for as many topics as you can – at least the major areas. If you have our Bar Exam Cram Sheets, you have this material in the order of the approach and will have a much easier time memorizing what you actually need to know.

    What else should you write out?

    You do not have to confine yourself to just topics that fit into an approach. For example, you could:

    1. Write out the intentional torts and defenses and miscellaneous torts like abuse of process and malicious prosecution.

    2. Write out areas that are especially difficult to remember like: the area of licensee, invitee, business invitee, child & adult trespasser – this is often tested on both the essay and MBE section of the bar exam. So, it is worth a little extra time.

    3. Write out extremely important and highly testable areas, for example: the standards of review in Constitutional Law (rational basis, intermediate scrutiny and strict scrutiny AND who has the burden of proof with each standard)

    4. Write out the the First Amendment Speech approach and the approach for commerce clause/dormant commerce clause problems.

    5. Write out the Homicide Murder approach (see earlier post for how to approach Homicide/Murder essays).

    6. Write out definitions of the four insanity tests – this is a good idea as these are difficult to remember without a particular focus on the four tests.

    This process of making your own notes in your own hand from the course materials is a very effective way to memorize the material and make it stick. It does not require you to write everything down. In fact, you will be better served by selecting aspects to write down (see my example above for Products Liability and note that it is a very top level view, but has enough detail to know what to say and how to organize an essay).

And if you need a condensed approach, please consider our Bar Exam Cram and Predictions Package. Check out my earlier blog posts for more information.

Good luck with your studies!

Lisa Duncanson
The Bar Exam Guru
Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review