Memorize legal information

by Jenna

I'm looking for a good way to memorize legal information such as definitions of crimes and lists of words. Would the scripture technique be a good tool?

Legal language is bulky and often uses illogical words. I'm about to take my first final exams and I will be typing out all of these definitions and will have to differentiate between very similar crimes. I don't think the picture method will work because I can't picture objects to match the definition of certain things. Thanks for your help!

Doug's Reply: The image / visualization method should work fine for legal terms. Please see my Memorizing Vocabulary Words page.

>> I don't think the picture method will work because I can't picture objects to match the definition of certain things

The first example on that page is the word "exorbitant," not exactly the most concrete object. Whether the term is concrete or not is irrelevant. Here's why:

The idea isn't to think of objects that exactly match the things; the idea is to think of objects that come close to the *sound* of the things, or multiple objects that match the sound of the *syllables* in the word.

All you need to do is create a good enough visual "handle" that you can grab mentally when you need to retrieve a particular definition. Your brain will do the rest.

If you have trouble, send me a few of the terms you need to memorize and I'll give you some ideas.

Best regards,

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Apr 07, 2010
technique is helping
by: Jenna

I am going to try this for some of the more complicated definitions. Actually the exam is all essay and we have to spot different crimes and then basically recall them all from memory.

But that technique is helping for some definitions already! I do have flashcards for everything, so I'm underlining the key words I need to make images for.

Thanks again!

Apr 07, 2010
matching words to definitions
by: Douglas - MIT

Tricky indeed, but here is how to handle it:

First you need an image for "simple". Since all the definitions are related to kidnapping, you don't really need an image for the word "kidnapping" itself.

To me, the word "simple" sounds a bit like "sing pole". So imagine a human-sized, striped barber pole, complete with eyes, nose, and mouth, singing his heart out. Get this image clear in your mind. Each time you picture the "sing pole", think "simple". Your brain should catch on to this very fast.

Next, identify one or two unique keywords in each kidnapping definition. These will act as your unique identifiers for the definition.

Since simple kidnapping has two definitions, add to your "sing pole" image to reflect that. Imagine the sing pole as having two arms, stretched wide as he is singing. You can then link one of the definitions to the pole's right hand, the other to his left.

I don't have the other kidnapping definitions to compare, but let's suppose the phrase "seizing and carrying" in simple kidnapping definition A is unique to that definition. For that phrase, I might imagine an suitcase (= carrying), again with eyes, mouth, etc., sneezing (= seizing). The sing pole is holding the suitcase up in the air with his right hand.

If the word "decoying" is unique in the second definition, I might imagine a wooden duck decoy biting or hanging on to the left hand of the sing pole.

So, let's now imagine you are taking the exam. You reach a question that asks for the definition(s) of "simple kidnapping". As soon as you read the word "simple", your brain should immediately call forth the image of the striped "sing pole" (assuming you have reviewed the image enough). As soon as you recall the sing pole, you will see in your mind that his arms are outstretched.

In the right hand - a sneezing suitcase, which reminds you of the phrase "seizing and carrying". In his left - a wooden duck with beak clamped on his hand, which reminds you of "decoying".

At that point you know for sure that "simple kidnapping" = 1) ___ seizing and carrying ___, and 2) ___ decoying ___.

If you know the actual wording of the definitions, it should be easy to select the correct answer. I'm assuming these are matching questions and not fill-in-the blank.

When studying, I would couple this technique with the use of flash cards. "Simple Kidnapping" on one side, a quick sketch of your sing-pole image on the back.

Flipping through a stack of such cards is a fast way to embed the images firmly in your mind and a great way to determine whether you have the definitions down cold. When you see the image on the card, say the definition (in its entirety) out loud.

Is this starting to make sense? It is an unusual way to approach information, but for many people (myself included) it works astoundingly well.


Apr 07, 2010
memorizing definitions of crimes
by: Jenna

Thanks for replying so quickly. My difficulty is memorizing which words go with which definitions of crimes. For example, the definition of "Simple Kidnapping" is:

A. The intentional and forcible seizing and carrying of any person from one place to another without his consent

OR B. Intentional taking, enticing or decoying away for any unlawful purpose, of any child not his own and under 14 years old without consent of the parent or guardian.

Then there are several other degrees of kidnapping with similar elements. How can I match these words with "Simple" Kidnapping and then others with the higher degrees of kidnapping?

I know the definitions of all the words, but feel like I won't be able to memorize how to match sounds with objects. If you have any ideas it would be greatly appreciated!

Anyway thanks again!

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