Law students get lots of advice about study aids. Some people swear by flashcards, others by flowcharts. What’s best?
What’s “Best” is What Works for You
There’s no one “best” option. The question is what works best for YOU.
That being said, flashcards and flowcharts are useful for different purposes.
Flashcard Pros and Cons
Flashcards are great if you need to memorize a lot of stuff. There’s something about the act of writing out the cards, and the act of physically flipping them over, that engages lots of different parts of the brain. Particularly if you color-code the cards (so the colors actually mean something), you’ll probably find flashcards help with memorization.
The downside of using flashcards is that they make it hard to get a general overview of a subject. Because all the pieces are separate and disjointed, it’s hard to see how everything fits together. One way to combat this limitation is to lay all the cards out on a table and make the connections between them that way. However, as soon as you tidy up, your linkages are lost.
Just for fun, here are a couple of my Torts flashcards, complete with drawings!
I don’t guarantee the law is correct, but perhaps they’ll give you some ideas for your own flashcards!
Flowchart Pros and Cons
The upside of a flowchart is the inverse of flashcards — they’re great for mapping out connections between ideas. Flowcharts are also fantastic when your analysis has a lot of branches. If you’re able to create a flowchart that asks simple “Yes” and “No” questions to lead you down a decision path, you’ll be very well situated to write a great exam answer.
The downside, however, is that a flowchart can quickly turn into impenetrable mess. When you want to include a lot of details, this probably isn’t your best option. (However, it’s worth asking if you’re including too many details, if you can’t reduce what you’re studying to a few fairly simple questions.)
A lot of the law isn’t really that complicated, when you break it down. But, some of it is, so it’s important to recognize where flowcharts are more confusing than they are helpful.
Here’s one I did for Contracts, and I guarantee it’s the only reason I passed the class!
The Bottom Line
When you think about what kind of study tools will help, don’t limit yourself to one type! There’s no “best” choice — only what’s helpful in a particular situation.
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Other post you might be interested in
What’s the Right Mindset for Studying?
What Most Law Students Forget to Do: Think About the Material
Five Tips for a Great Legal Writing Assignment
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Peter F. Black
Personally I like a mix of both. Outline notes into a flowchart and making flashcards for different parts of the flowchart as needed.
I agree that a mix is best in most cases. Depending on the type of info you need to learn, different techniques work better. For me, even with a flowchart, I’d have a back up outline that was more detailed (maybe based on an old one from the class), so I could get more detail if I needed it on the test. But it was too hard to figure out what was going on, with just an outline!
Great article! I have found How to Make a Flowchart using lucidchart and it was very easy to use! I would recommend checking it out!
I love flowchart :D. But I can’t see the blue sentences on 5th image because they’re too small :-<
Those are just application notes citing to specific pieces of the Restatement, UCC, etc. in case I needed to look something up (all of my exams were open book).
Great information,I Found application called Quizlet for Flashcards but i cant find one for Flow diagram any one can help ?
Most word processing programs have flow chart options. Here’s an article on how to use Microsoft Word to make a flow chart: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/create-stunning-flowcharts-microsoft-word/. It also looks like there are special programs online to do similar things.
As a visual learner, I totally love both these concepts. Tired of seeing outlines typed up – they’re so hard for my brain to follow. Thanks so much for this article, I’ll definitely be trying out the flashcards this exam season
So glad this was helpful!