Three Gentle Truths to Remember A Month Before the Bar Exam
“It’s going to be the worst summer of your life,” that’s what my trust and estates prof told me one night when our class went out with some professors. She made me so scared for bar prep–here I was a barely making it by as a student (at least that was the vision I had of myself) and here she was, this super successful professor telling me it was going to be horrible. If it was horrible for her, how could I make it?
I don’t begrudge the professor’s blunt warning because it did help me prepare for a mental storm that many of us experience during Bar prep. And really that’s what’s worse, not the test but the prep period.
Studying for hours on end, memorizing legal standards, having to turn down fun events with family, spending so-much-money, and there’s a constant voice in your head reminding you that only your entire livelihood depends on you passing. No biggie, right?
For those that have been in it for a few weeks now, I know it’s getting dicey. This upcoming weekend may be the last one that feels like you can do anything beside studying. You may have had a few breakdowns as you freak out that you don’t remember anything about torts. So I’m here to provide a few gentle truths with just about a month away from the test.
First, deep breath. One more.
One. You don’t need to know everything. I know it’s impossible to know what to study for because they could test on anything. Try to follow the study schedule your bar prep has given you knowing it’s likely not possible that you’ll get through all of it. Remind yourself that when you’re freaking out about progress. Do what you can and do your best. If you hit a wall and aren’t absorbing material, take a break.
Two. You know how to do this. If you ever took a basic law school course that required an essay final, then you know how to do this. You know there’s a hypo where you issue spot, you know to use IRAC, you know how to write your answers–you’ve done it for the past three years. The Bar is not going to be some riddle of sphinx situation or some other unknown. You know how to do this, you’ve got this.
Three. Treat yourself well. Again, it’s so easy to go pedal to the medal; all nights, just coffee. But that helps no one! You need to provide space for yourself to relieve stress, you need to rest, to re-energize, to talk to another human being now and then. Don’t think that this has to be a marathon of grind and punishment. Make sure you’re nourishing yourself, banishing thoughts of self-sabotage, and motivating yourself in healthy ways.
Come back two weeks before the exam to read the three harsh truths, but for now be gentle, consistent, and focused. We are all rooting for you!