A very sweet bar studier e-mailed me last week for some advice. We ended up chatting on the phone for a bit and the first thing I noticed was that she sounded exhausted. She was working full time and studying and although there were seven weeks left in her preparation, she had already been studying for about six weeks. With work, life, and studying, she hadn’t taken any time off. And it was really starting to show.
So many students think there is no time to take a break.
The bar exam is mentally exhausting. It is also physically exhausting. And your mind actually needs sleep and rest to perform at its best. If you are feeling that you are burning the candle at both ends and yet not getting anything done, it is likely that you are so exhausted that your brain can’t process information as it should!
And there are risks to not giving yourself a break. You might get sick. You might burn out. You might become more anxious and have trouble dealing with the stress of taking the bar exam. All of these are bad things. So go ahead, take a break. It isn’t going to hurt you or be the reason that you fail!
And what do I mean by a break?
A break is not lunch away from your computer. A break is not a 20-minute phone call with your mom or your best friend. A break is at least half a day (but I recommend an entire day) away from the test and work. Do something that makes you feel good! Get away from your desk. Clear your head! Talk to people who aren’t taking the exam. Go to a movie. Do whatever you do to make yourself feel better.
Here is the trick, though. You must not feel guilty about not studying.
Taking a break is a critical part of studying.
Go ahead, give it a try. I imagine that when you come back to studying after your break you won’t find that you don’t remember anything or that you have fallen behind. I expect you will find that you are actually able to retain more information and work more efficiently. So you are studying more effectively because you took time off! Wow, who knew?
Many students want permission from someone to take a break. Here it is—I officially give you permission to take a break. So go for it. You will be glad you did!
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