After passing the bar exam, law school students are able to practice as licensed attorneys in the United States. Until recently, aspiring lawyers prepped for this grueling test with 400 to 600 hours of study spread across shelves of weighty texts. However, the way we learn is changing, and the TikTok generation deserves a new approach.
The exam prep process most courses offer is antiquated and out of touch with the way this younger demographic best learns and retains information. What this next generation of lawyers need is platforms that distill relevant information into engaging clips and deliver only the content they need to pass the test.
Refining Complex Legal Topics into Digestible, Easy-to-Understand Video Lectures
Instead of overwhelming students, exam prep curriculums should have a laser-like focus on the material. Mountains of content in semesters of textbooks and lectures can be distilled into short video clips and located in one convenient online educational platform. Once we eliminate the fluff from prep courses, we can cover each topic in a down-to-earth, clear, and streamlined approach.
This generation of law students does not want to digest complicated legal topics in 20-year-old textbooks and long-winded lectures. Instead, they prefer bite-sized video explanations that enable them to watch all of the video lectures available on a given topic to more easily achieve subject mastery.
Philosophy and theory are fine for law school lectures, but prep for exams as intense as the bar must explain the law in as plain terms as possible using current — or at least more recent — examples for context. Diving too deeply into theory and philosophy can cause students to over-analyze every potential angle, leaving them questioning what they do and don’t know instead of focusing their time on mastering the subject matter.
When students prepare for the bar exam, they only need the essentials — the things that are tested on the exam — distilled in their most practical form. Video lectures built for today’s TikTok generation of law students can cut through the fluff and deliver content that translates into higher scores on their bar exam.
The benefits of laser-focused lessons
Most bar exam prep courses fail to recognize they must cater their content to ever-younger generations of students who learn and digest information in entirely different ways than those who came before them. As such, the future of teaching complex legal concepts to today’s and tomorrow’s law students requires a fresh and relatable approach.
This new approach to exam prep and learning involves engaging content spread across easily digestible video clips. When topics are short and engaging, students have their “ah-ha!” breakthrough moments as they take in the concepts at their own pace.
A recent study demonstrates how the School of Information Technology at Nanyang Polytechnic uses bite-sized lecture pedagogy to improve student performance in an analytics course. This method of instruction divides lessons into manageable chunks and emphasizes results over process, consisting of three or four shorter lectures that build upon one another, followed by practical activities that directly apply to the material covered.
The assessment findings for the bite-sized approach indicate significant gains over the typical 1-hour lecture format in terms of desired learning goals. In the study, 75 percent of students surveyed claimed the course information was presented at the appropriate tempo in the bite-sized presentation. The majority of students said they agreed or strongly agreed that the bite-sized lecture format improved their understanding.
Microlearning is another trend in education, which describes the practice of acquiring knowledge through brief activities lasting between one to ten minutes. Macro learning, on the other hand, is a deep dive into a topic that might take hours or days to complete. This traditional method typically involves training a large group of students in a classroom with an instructor relaying information in a one-way fashion.
Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology finds that microlearning makes knowledge retention 17 percent more efficient compared to more conventional training methods. This is because knowledge learned in manageable chunks is more likely to be retained in working memory, a sort of short-term storage in the brain that facilitates the execution of activities.
The drawbacks of traditional exam prep
From my perspective, most prep courses for the bar exam are plagued with three glaring problems. First, they cram too much material into too short of a time frame. When students purchase one of these programs, they typically receive a number of large, dense textbooks in the mail — each of which is a comprehensive treatise comprised of hundreds of pages or more.
The second problem is the three-step method these courses generally employ. Students first watch lectures, then review the content in the texts before applying the principles taught through practical questions. Unfortunately, students often spend so much time on the first two steps that they can neglect the final and most important step of applying the law to hypothetical situations.
The third problem with most test prep courses is their “one-size-fits-all” approach, as any program made for everyone cannot specifically address each student’s weakest areas. Students need prep courses that can break down content and maximize learning in areas where they need the most work.
A generation ago, law students went to Google to find answers, but this generation uses TikTok as their search engine. They have shorter attention spans and want videos that get to the point.
To empower the TikTok generation to pass the bar, we must design highly efficient programs and materials with a focus on point accumulation. We have to teach the concepts they need to know in order to help them prep for and pass the bar exam by giving them engaging video content that avoids philosophy and fluff, and instead hones in on practical law.
The author, Joseph Wilson is Co-Founder at Studicata