You are about to embark on a journey like no other: the bar exam. You will spend countless hours studying and preparing for the hardest exam of your life. During the bar prep period, your life will change dramatically as you shift to studying full-time. However, although you will be focused on studying, your loved ones’ lives will continue around you and will still want to see and interact with you as normal. Your loved ones have the best intentions, they care about you and want to support you! Personally, my family and fiance were my biggest cheerleaders throughout my bar exam experience. However, I had to set some boundaries during my bar study. You will want to explain to your loved ones that you appreciate all of the love and support but your main focus has to be on studying for the bar exam. No one is saying that you cannot have fun or see your loved ones during the bar prep period.
However, your time will be limited and your main focus is passing the bar exam. Thus, you will want to explain to them (lovingly) what they can expect during each phase of the bar exam and set some ground rules.
Set Expectations For The Study Period
Most lay people do not know what the bar prep period looks like or even what a law graduate will go through in preparation for the bar exam. Most individuals begin studying after their law school graduation and continue to study until the bar exam. If you have a bar prep course, there will be a schedule designed to help maximize your learning and preparation for the exam. Also, in order to focus on studying, most people take time off of work to study full-time. The bar prep period is a very stressful and overwhelming time for many law graduates. You will want to talk to your loved ones about what your plan is for studying for the bar exam, what your schedule looks like, and what kind of stress you are likely to face. Make sure to set boundaries and realistic expectations on how often they can expect to see you or hear from you so they understand when you are focusing on your preparation!
Set Game Day Expectations
The day(s) of the bar exam are no joke. Everything you have done up until this point was all in preparation for these testing days. Not surprisingly, they are some of the most stressful days of your life. Thus, it is important to set expectations for what the actual testing days will be like. Your loved ones are going to want to know how you feel after each day, make sure you are doing alright, and cheer you on! However, you may want to relax, do some last-minute studying, or just be alone. Personally, my fiance stayed with me at the hotel during the bar exam, which I found really helped me. But ultimately you will want to decide what will be best for you and communicate to your loved ones about what you want from them during the testing days.
Set Post Bar Exam Expectations
Although you will make it through the bar exam and be successful, the post bar exam period can be very stressful as well. Many lay people think you get results back right away or quickly following the exam, which is not the case. Each state differs in their turnaround time for releasing bar results, so check your state bar’s website for more information. In my case, it took 3 months from the time I took the exam until I got my results back. During that time, I constantly got questions from friends and family asking me if I passed the bar yet or when I would be a lawyer. These repeated questions can add to the stress and anxiety of the waiting period. Thus, you will want to set some expectations about what happens after you take the bar exam. Explain to your loved ones when you are likely to get your results back, what the process looks like after you pass the bar, and what they should do during the waiting period to help manage your stress!
Decide What is Best For You
Everyone is different – shocker. Some people have no problems throughout bar prep and live their lives like normal. For others, bar prep completely uproots their lives, and they struggle to make through the studying period. Ultimately, you have to decide what is going to be best for you and what boundaries you will need to set. And it is perfectly okay to choose what is going to make you most successful, stress-free, and prepared for this process (even if it means hurting some feelings). Your loved ones will understand and respect your choices (even if they need a kind reminder here and there). In the end, they love you and will see you on the other side of the bar exam!