For the past few years, I have been a fan of the Critical Pass MBE flashcards as a study tool for law graduates preparing for the multiple-choice section of the bar exam. But given that aspiring attorneys need to pass a huge number of exams during law school before they can even begin to think about taking the bar exam, I was pleased to recently learn that Critical Pass now offers flashcards for law students to help them learn core concepts and prepare for exams in key law school courses.
What is Critical Pass?
Critical Pass has released (hot off the press!) its first three sets of flash cards specifically tailored for first-year law students enrolled in Contracts, Criminal Law, and Torts. Additional subjects—including some for upper-division law students—will be released over the course of the next few months, including:
- Business Associations
- Civil Procedure
- Constitutional Law I and II
- Criminal Procedure
- Trusts, Wills, and Estates
Each set of cards is just $24.99 per subject. All cards are color-coded, cross-referenced, and organized by topic and sub-topic, including indexes for each subject.
The front side of each flash card lists a given legal topic (e.g., intentional torts) or sub-topic (e.g., assault, battery, false imprisonment, etc.). The back of each card provides an outline of the law, as well as space to write notes or mnemonics (see visual of comparable Critical Pass MBE flashcards).
While Critical Pass flashcards have been popular in the bar prep community for years (see review from Bar Exam Toolbox), the flashcards for law students provide more detail and context than the MBE flashcards. They are structured to help law students understand and synthesize concepts as they tackle them for the first time in fundamental law school courses.
Each single-subject flashcard set comes in a neat, compact box filled with approximately 50 cards—a manageable number for students seeking an efficient organizational and memorization tool.
How Critical Pass is Different
You may be one of those students who prefers outlines to flashcards. To be honest, one of the downsides with flashcards is that they can make it difficult to see how a set of related legal topics fit together, especially if—as with typical sets—they include just one rule statement or definition per card.
Critical Pass flashcards are different, though. Everything from the master index card provided with each single-subject set to the color-coded headings provided on the individual cards help students remain cognizant of the overarching organizational structure for any subject they are studying.
For example, a card from the negligence topic in the Torts set has a color-coded heading that reads “breach of duty.” Under that heading, the card provides a concisely stated, easy-to-read outline that breaks down the four most common situations in which a defendant may be found to have breached the applicable standard of care. Specifically, according to the card, the defendant may have breached the:
- Reasonably prudent person standard;
- Negligence per se standard;
- A specialized duty of care; or
- A standard set by custom or usage in an industry.
These standards of care are further broken down, defined, and illustrated with listed examples on other cross-referenced cards within the same set. In fact, several of the cards within any given subject-matter set provide helpful cross-references to related topics, because so many legal topics covered in law school courses are interconnected. This feature helps ensure that students do not just study an individual rule in isolation. They also will understand how the rule works together with other concepts, and this will help them successfully address some of the typical fact patterns on law school exams.
In sum, Critical Pass flashcards for law students offer a way for students to streamline their comprehension and exam preparation processes in key law school courses. The cards are organized within well-grounded, easy-to-understand, organizational schemes. Students who may find themselves lost in the mire, spending countless hours trying to discern the organizational scheme for a particular course, will save critical time and quickly get to the “aha!” moment where they understand the most important course concepts and how they work together. This, in turn, will allow them to spend their precious remaining study hours further customizing the cards with helpful mnemonics, key take-aways and phrases from their class notes, and other buzzwords and nuances particular to the way their individual professor teaches the course.
An Added Bonus: A Jump Start On Bar Prep
I would be remiss if I failed to mention one final bonus provided by Critical Pass flashcards, even though most law students will not realize its full benefit until they begin to study for the bar exam. Not only will the cards help students excel on law school exams by helping them learn the material in a way that is well-matched to the way it is taught and tested in law school courses, they have the added benefit of teaching students to absorb the material in a way that will help them pass the bar exam.
Through its new law school flashcards, Critical Pass has brought its expertise in helping students prepare for the bar exam to the law school level. As students who use Critical Pass flashcards move on to graduating from law school and beginning their studies for the bar exam, they are likely to realize that they have already completed much of the foundational groundwork for the comprehension and memorization they will need to tackle some of the most common bar-tested subjects.
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