By Adam Balinski
Updated: June 15, 2020
In order to pass the bar, you’re going to need to have excellent analytical skills.
Studying for hours and investing your time and energy into bar-specific courses and resources will only get you so far. You’re also going to need to beef up your ability to analyze information, solve problems, and make quick educated decisions.
Luckily, there are a few strategies that can help you achieve a better ability to analyze.
1. Read, read, and read some more.
We’re not talking about your legal textbooks, either. Reading entertaining fiction or some other genre that interests you can help you improve your analytical skills by exposing you to different ideas. Through this, you’ll be able to increase your own cognitive abilities.
Example: Spend your break time away from studying for the bar and read a crime thriller or noir mystery book.
2. Play specific brain games.
There are tons of games out there designed to exercise your mind like a muscle and increase your analytical skills. A few popular games in this genre include Sudoku, Scrabble, chess, backgammon, and a wide range of mobile apps like Elevate and Lumosity.
Example: During your snack or lunch break, open up an app-based mobile game and keep your brain stimulated.
3. Take advantage of analytical tools.
You can also try incorporating analytical learning tools into your everyday routine. There are so many different types of tools out there that could be helpful. The best way to go would be to do a quick search for analytical or critical thinking tools that have to do with a specific area of your life you want to improve.
Example: The money management application and tracker Mint helps users analyze and understand their budgets and spending scenarios. Using this app regularly could help you learn how to analyze risk in terms of investment and spending.
4. Enjoy some podcasts.
When you’re commuting to school or driving elsewhere, you can spend some of the free time enjoying a podcast or two to keep your brain active. Upping your critical thinking ability while you’re driving is a popular activity for a lot of people. You could listen to a variety of podcasts that focus specifically on improving critical thinking or simply podcasts that are thought-provoking.
Example: On your way to or from class or a study session, listen to a TED Talk podcast.
5. Amp up your independent research abilities.
Being able to research is not only a key part of being able to think critically, but it will also be necessary when you begin studying for the bar exam. Being able to independently research will make it easier to compare arguments, understand facts and figures as they are presented without much context, and discern a reputable source from a non-reputable source. This is where your analytical skills will come the most in handy in the future, especially in the legal field. But if you really want to increase your analytical ability in order to perform better on the bar exam, the most practical approach you’ll need to take is to improve your ability to research.
Example: Improve your ability to develop a powerful eye for unsubstantiated claims in your research by reading self-help books such as “Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches” by J. David Creswell.
6. Always ask questions.
Law school is much more rushed and formal than your undergraduate classes. It certainly makes sense why– law school is condensed into three years of highly intense and very competitive coursework. Because of this, many students feel like they can’t ask their teachers questions. While it’s true that some law professors may be difficult to approach in terms of asking questions, some are very open to a dialogue-based teaching approach. Just as well, every law student should also take the time to find a mentor, specifically someone who has been working in law for quite a while. Asking questions is the most basic human way to increase one’s analytical and critical thinking skills.
Example: Compile the three most difficult aspects of your bar exam that you just cannot figure out, and have a question fire-off session with your mentor.