Law School Flashcards: What you need to know

Flashcards can be an effective way of studying in law school. But what is the best way to use them, and should you create your own or purchase commercially made flashcards?  There are pros and cons to both! 

You’ve probably heard about creating your own outlines for studying in law school.  Outlines are an excellent way to condense the semester’s worth of work into one easy-to-read document, so that you can see the big picture and how the different topics fit together. A drawback of law school flashcards is that they don’t give you as much of this overall big picture.  But flashcards are also a great study tool for law students. Law school flashcards are excellent for learning distinct concepts, as well as helping you memorize things like rules, elements, and definitions.  They are also great for active learning – even just the process of creating law school flashcards can help with memorization! 

How to create your own Flashcards

Start by creating “overview” flashcards that will mimic an outline to an extent – think about the main headings you would have in an outline and put them on a flashcard.  Make one “overview” flashcard for each main topic for the semester.  This will help you organize your concepts so that you can then dive deeper into each topic.

Then start to break things down.  Try to avoid putting too much information on each individual card. You can create flashcards for the holdings of important cases, for individual rules and elements, definitions – anything you think is important and that needs to be committed to memory.  Set up your law school flashcards so they lend themselves to studying easily – for example, put the name of a tort of one side, and the elements on the other. Or the name of a case on one side, and the holding on the other. 

Try color coordinating your law school flashcards by topic and subtopic.  This can be a good way to help you see the big picture, as you would with an outline. It can also be a visual reminder of what subtopics go together.  Color coding also aids in memory, which can help you with recall.  This is another benefit to color coding your law school flashcards. 

Buying commercial flashcards

There is a benefit to creating your own law school flashcards, but there are also drawbacks. The main drawback to creating your own law school flashcards is that it takes a while!  In addition to outlining and doing practice exams, creating your own law school flashcards can seem daunting!  But is there a way to get the benefit of flashcards for law students without having to create your own?  Yes - there are commercial flashcards that you can purchase, which can give you some of the same benefit of law school flashcards, without the time commitment of creating them. 

Critical Pass 1 NOT an affiliate link, we just love Critical Pass!is well-known for their MBE flashcards. Critical Pass MBE flashcards help students memorize the law for the multiple-choice portion of the bar exam. They now also have flashcards for law school, including all first-year subjects and select upper-level subjects.  If you are interested in using flashcards for recall practice and memorization, but don’t have the time to create them, purchasing flashcards from a commercial source can be a good solution. 

Using your flashcards 

So, you’ve either purchased or created your own law school flashcards, but now how do you use them? Flashcards are a great tool for quizzing yourself!  Flashcards promote active recall, which is when you actively stimulate your memory for a piece of information.  It’s helping you retrieve information from your memory quickly and efficiently. When you quiz yourself using a flashcard, your brain is actively searching for the information on the other side of the flashcard.  This increases your ability to recall it in the future. This is opposed to passive review, like reading through your notes or your outlines.  Passive review can help you to understand a subject, but it doesn’t actually help you with memorization.  For example, reading through your contracts outline may help you understand how contract formation, performance, and breach all relate to each other. But it won’t necessarily help you remember the different situations where the Statute of Frauds applies to an oral contract.  So, if you are having trouble remembering thing like the elements of a tort, all of the exceptions to the hearsay rule, or which test belongs to which fundamental right – try putting it on a flashcard!

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