As we get closer to the bar exam, many bar takers are setting aside time to take three-hour MBE practice exams. (Note, if you have not done this, I would recommend scheduling one as soon as possible.) There are many reasons to do this. First, it gives you a gage of how you are doing on a long set of MBE questions. Second, it allows you to review the law you may have missed on MBE questions. Lastly, it also lets you discover if fatigue is an issue for you.
Fatigue is something that many of us struggle with on the MBE.
When I was taking the bar exam, I vividly remember the morning session of the MBE. I thought it was incredibly challenging and also incredibly exhausting. I really don’t enjoy multiple choice and at one point I felt my energy dip. I remember getting up and walking to the bathroom to help me re-focus my energy. I made it through the three hours, but it felt like a struggle. The problem is, fatigue is not just something that can be annoying and frustrating. It can have a detrimental effect on your scores. It can keep you from reading carefully and being methodical. It can make your work sloppy. And it can cause you to miss questions you otherwise wouldn’t miss.
Does this sound familiar? Are you struggling with fatigue as you practice the MBE?
So what do you do if you are struggling with fatigue on the MBE? Well, here are a few suggestions.
- Take timed practice exams. If you are really struggling with focusing for three hours, you might want to take some additional three-hour practice exams in your final weeks of preparation.
- Study in three-hour blocks. Beyond just working on practice exams, you can also study in three-hour blocks. This will help you with your focus and get you used to the time frame of the exam. Another thing to consider is making yourself go without food or water for the three hours. If you won’t have it with you during the exam, don’t study with it.
- Don’t discount the importance of taking a break during MBE. If you are struggling with focus and you feel your energy dip, say, after 90 minutes, it may behoove you to take a little break. This break can come in a few different forms.
(1) The bathroom break. If you don’t struggling with time on the MBE (which you will typically know from doing full practice exams), you may want to consider giving yourself time to get up, walk to the restroom, use the restroom and/or wash your hands, and then walk back. What is great about this break is that it doesn’t take that much time, but it allows your body to move. Only take this break if you consistently have time to spare on the MBE.
(2) The stretch break. If you don’t have time to spare on the MBE, then you may want to consider taking a moment or two throughout the exam to look up and stretch your body. Hunching over a scantron for three hours can be tough. Just sitting up straight, stretching out your arms and moving around a little can help you re-energize your mind and body to finish the exam.
(3) The “breath” break. If stretching isn’t for you or you feel like you don’t have enough time for that, just take time to take 10 deep breaths. This will take approximately 30 seconds to one minute. Although this sounds simple, science shows us that breathing deeply has the power to calm our nerves and make us think more clearly as we flood the body with oxygen. If you are feeling fatigued or that your focus is wavering, breathing deeply may be just what you need. And I would argue that everyone has the ability to take 30 seconds to one minute to do this activity as part of the MBE.
When should you take a break?
This varies from person to person. The best way to tell when you should take a break is by looking at your practice exam scores and listening to your body. Was there a point where you missed a long string of questions (say, 10)? If so, you may have lost focus. Did you remember a point in the test where you were feeling exhausted and unable to focus? These are the times to utilize the break techniques discussed above.
But like everything else, you need to practice taking your breaks.
To know if these breaks will work for you, you must test them out! Use them during your practice exam sessions. See if they make you feel better. If they do, then you want to consider utilizing them during exam day.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Help! I am Too Anxious to Study
- More Tips for the Bar Exam Significant Other: Don’t Take it Personally
- Are You Ready for Civil Procedure on the MBE?
- Yikes! I Need to Improve My MBE Score
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