Law School,  Legal Practice

Three Harsh Truths to Remember the Last Two Weeks Before the Bar Exam

The last two weeks of Bar prep oscillate between wishing the Bar exam were tomorrow so you can get it over with versus freaking out that you’ll never learn everything by the day of the test.  The last two weeks are grueling, high paced, yet filled with hours that don’t seem to end.  It really sucks.  There’s not much you can do at the moment to alleviate the stress and anxiety.  During this time, even I don’t recommend taking large chunks of time off to exercise or cook or to relax. Why? Because all the time you spend not studying will be mostly time stressed about the fact you’re not studying. Why add extra stress? And anyway, during these last weeks, studying is really all you should aim to do. I know, it’s harsh, but it’s the truth. And because this crunch time is a Bad Time in most of our lives, it’s important to remember these three {harsh} truths to get you through the last bit of studying:
last week and the bar
One. You will not learn everything. It’s impossible.  So keep reminding yourself that you just need to know enough to pass–that’s it. You can’t learn all of the federal rules, your state law, and master essay structure. It’s just not possible. Instead, use the last days of studying to memorize mnemonic devices, practice your essay structures, and work on identifying the stupid tricks that can be applied to multiple choice (i.e. If one “co-conspirator” is a cop then there can’t be a conspiracy).  Being capable of answering the exam in a timely, organized, and coherent manner will make the difference; so do your best to memorize, practice, and identify.

Two. Other people’s milestones aren’t as important as your ability to work and earn a living. It’s the last two weeks—no you can’t go to a wedding; celebrate an engagement; or someone’s birthday. It sucks. And for those of us that are part of large, close-knit families it does not go over well to say no. Because it’s not just no, I can’t go to the birthday party—it’s no I can’t help set-up, clean, cook a dish, and participate in the day’s activities. You may hurt some feelings, but these last two weeks really matter and they have to matter to you. Of course there are people that are having fun up to the day of the Exam, but why risk it? There will always be another celebration, another happy occasion; but you should really aim to make taking the bar (and paying for Bar prep) a one-time occasion.

Three.  No, getting run over by a car isn’t better than not having to take the Bar exam.  Tell me it wasn’t just me having these fantasies and weird dreams?! Whenever we start hoping that disaster strikes us, it’s a sure sign that we’ll start looking for ways (conscious and unconscious) to self-sabotage. When you start thinking like this, take a deep breath and push past any desire to cause your own failure. Don’t let your nerves and stress trick you into bad behavior. There are people so fearful that they’ll try and fail, that they’ll purposefully not try so that they can have a ready excuse.  Don’t do that to yourself.  I remember a girl in my bar prep class who did not study at all.  I’m not exaggerating. She rarely came to class; didn’t do any practices; and went out a lot.  She planned to fail, and so she did. Don’t let your fear overwhelm you so much that you don’t even give yourself a chance.  Remember, the Bar doesn’t measure your intelligence, your worth, or capability as an attorney. Passing or not passing doesn’t say anything about you. It is a means to an end—the end being your license and ability to practice. So yes, stakes are high, but don’t worry so much about the outcome that you admit defeat before the end of the race.

Good luck, take short breaks when you feel like you’ve hit the wall, and get some sleep!

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