Evidence is a required course that often seems convoluted to law students without a study guide. With so many rules, concepts, exceptions, and state law variations, it can be difficult to wrap your head around what you need to know to ace your final exam (let alone to actually practice…) when you sit down to study via the iterative outline process.
Evidence exams vary from one law school to another, but generally are either essay or more commonly, multiple choice. Evidence is rarely about specific cases, and instead about principles and theory. To understand the basics, the best evidence study guide supplement is Law in a Flash: Evidence. These flashcards break down the universe of evidentiary rules into single issue questions, so that after a few cycles through the deck, you’ll be well beyond competent in what you’ll need for the exam. Then, work in supplemental materials such as your own state’s rules or variations, and any policy or practical guidance your professor discusses in class.
For a multiple choice exam, it’s more likely you’ll need to quickly cover a broad variety of topics at a quick pace, spending only a few minutes on each question. In this case, the most efficient tool to guide your study of evidence is to rely on the flashcards. If you have time you can use Law in a Flash as a base set and create your own.
For essay exams and general understanding of the law of evidence, the usual study guide favorites of Examples & Explanations: Evidence and Understanding Evidence are out there, although the latter’s in-depth explanations may provide more mileage while the E&E series is more cursory. Instead, Principles of Evidence is a preferable alternative to E&E.
It’s obviously important to have a copy of the Federal Rules of Evidence as an additional resource to guide your study. Paper is great so that you can highlight and mark it up. For quick reference, a mobile version is available for free. You’ll also need a copy of your applicable state rules of evidence, which should be available online.
You’ll find everything you need to study evidence here. Have thoughts on these materials, a different exam style, or think we missed a great supplement? Let us know!
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Law in a Flash: Evidence
Flashcards are the single best way to learn evidence. First reviewing each card to ensure you’ve captured every concept and principle in your notes and understanding is the first step to success, and then quickly cycling through deck in your spare time or during concentrated study sessions allows you to master the class. There are even blank cards for you to create your own and round out the deck for perfect symmetry with your own class.
Examples & Explanations: Evidence
Examples & Explanations is a staple of each class, and it doesn’t hurt to have on hand and work through the examples. The practical nature of evidence means that the best way to learn it is through application. If you’ve burned through the flashcards or need a bit of a reminder on a concept, you can rely on this E&E as an additional evidence study guide.
Federal Rules of Evidence
An obvious necessity, this one will last you well into your practice. This version is annotated with additional supplementary materials. You can also opt for a free version, available online or in app form.
The Understanding series is always a thorough review of every topic, such that if it isn’t covered in this book, you probably don’t need to know it. But, it is also at times more than you need to know. Use this as your backstop, and a resource for a deep dive when you’re confused.