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Weights, Coffee, and Yoga Might Improve Your Memory for the Bar

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on June 28, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The bar exam isn't about your ability to charm potential clients, to craft a finely written legal document, or to persuade a fact finder. That is, it's not about many of the skills that make a great lawyer. Instead, mastering the bar is about rote, brute memorization. Get that black letter law down, learn how to apply it, and you should do alright.

Given the vast amount of law you need to retain to pass the bar, memorization can be daunting task. But, there are some tricks that can help you improve your memory as you move closer and closer to your exam date.

1. Exercise, But Also Lift Weights

Doctors have long known that exercise helps improve your memory. And pretty much any exercise works. Many of the studies showing a connection between an active bod and a sharp mind focus on aerobic activities -- running, walking, jazzercising. (Well, maybe not jazzercising.)

But, according to a recent study, weight training twice a week could help people retain their memory. How? Researchers aren't sure, but they posit that stronger muscles may release brain-saving chemicals that help improve your overall brain function. Granted, the study was done on women between the ages of 65 and 75, a group you're probably not a member of, but the results are possibly applicable across age groups.

Just make sure you pump iron twice a week. The ladies who lifted only once showed little brain improvement.

2. Drink Coffee After You Study

Coffee really can sharpen your senses -- and help you retain knowledge. In a 2014 study, researchers gave volunteers a caffeine pill or a placebo after they'd studied and found that those who swallowed a pill of java retained information significantly better than the caffeine-free cohort. The key seems to be downing the beverage (skip the caffeine pill, as they are gross) after you study.

But don't drink too much coffee. Sleep too can improve your memory, so you'll want to make sure you're not kept up all night by a caffeine high.

3. Take Up Yoga

A little downward dog posing could help you end up with an upward bar exam performance. Like lifting weights and sipping coffee, researchers have found that yoga can strengthen your brain and improve thinking ability. Yoga's combination of mindfulness and physical activity might be just what you need to exercise your brain and your body.

Another potential yoga side effect? Cutting through all that bar exam stress.

Of course, these are just some possible ways to beef up your brain before the exam. For more, check out our memory tips for the 2015 bar exam.

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