When things get tough, it can be easy to doubt yourself and your abilities. When thoughts are filled with doubt, you may be more susceptible to caving in and believing you are not cut out for the bar. This is not true! Here are some examples of anxious thoughts that are also untrue!
“I need all of the recommended supplements to pass.”
Keep it simple. Too many resources can lead to overload, and that is unhelpful. Remember that if you are hearing advice regarding various supplements that are a must, it may be advice specific for a certain learning type. Do your research and learn about what is out there and determine what you really need to move forward. Once you have a system, and you are seeing improvements—stick to what works for you and your learning style.
Going in different directions throughout your prep may even prevent or delay you from getting started or making progress. The bottom line is that you don’t need a ton of resources to pass. The truth is that you likely already have what you need to get started. Just begin where you are with the resources that you have. Build in additional supplemental material slowly if needed and if proven to be effective for you.
“My tutor will ensure I pass.”
Not true. Having a tutor is not the magic key to pass. The key is putting in the effort and work with or without the extra help. There are times when bar takers rely on their tutor as a crutch and don’t put in the work outside of tutoring sessions. Ultimately, it is the time you put into practice day in and day out is what counts. If you are feeling as though you can only pass with a tutor, try giving this your full effort by consistently working through a series of practice questions, reviewing your answers including those you scored right and wrong. Once you have given that honest effort, a tutor can really help you to narrow down the problem areas, but you need to figure out what those are to get meaningful help from a tutor. You also need to take the advice of your tutor if you do have one. While they can provide resources and lots of suggestions, you are the one who needs to implement the work.
“I need to have perfect outlines before practicing questions.”
You may have heard the advice that you do not need to wait for the perfect conditions to do the work. This advice applies to doing the work and the practice even if you don’t have beautifully organized binders and typed outlines. Every day start where you are and build your materials as you learn. This is a learning process, and learning will cause you to make changes to your study guides. You will be adding in new notes and ways to memorize the material.
“I cannot do this.”
Yes, you really can. You really are capable. You have done the most challenging part and graduated after grueling years of law school. Ask yourself what the underlying reason is for feeling you cannot reach your bar exam goals. This will help you to identify what is really going on so that you can overcome the barrier. For example, if you are fearful then get specific about what scares you most and try to address that fear. If you find that you fear test-taking, some of the ways you can address this include: visiting the test site, learning the exam day rules, and practicing in exam-like conditions.
“I won’t be ready in time.”
Believing you cannot move forward can feel paralyzing. Progress is found in the little effort and steps you take daily. The steps are the same, but with those efforts comes a ton of learning. Trust that you have done the work, you are doing the work, you are challenging yourself to go the distance, and as long as you are learning, you are making progress. You won’t be able to cover every single topic, as every topic won’t even be tested. You are preparing to handle this major feat, so that you can adapt to whatever comes your way on exam day.
“I have too much going on in my life to take this test.”
If you are committed, continue to do your best with the circumstances that you have. If life has thrown a lot of curve balls at you, it is great preparation for the many curveballs that the bar will throw your way on the exam. Don’t worry, you can handle it and show the graders you are prepared.
“I am lazy because I take breaks.”
Moving between periods of working hard and intentional time to not focus is good for your brain. You can combat any guilt of taking breaks by ensuring they are structured with the help of a timer or other time management system that works for you.
You can do this!
Remember that you are capable just the way you were capable of finishing law school. In law school you probably had moments of self-doubt, and here you are—with your Juris Doctor! You are a decision away from a strong bar exam mindset so go for it!
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