“Perfect is the Enemy of Good.”
This is a quote that is complex to understand but a reality that many bar examinees ignore as it appears counterproductive to the goals of perfection they set long before they even go to law school.
Are you enrolled for an upcoming bar exam? If so, do you find yourself repeating the lies that perfection is essential to receive a passing score? But what is perfection? Simply put, it is a subjective construct that is impossible to attain, but an ideal that people set as their goal to achieve success. So, if it is an impossibility, why do so many people try to grasp it?
If you find yourself locked into the belief that perfection equals success on the bar exam, take a pause, continue reading this post and then reset your thinking. If you continue on the current trajectory, you may not be doing yourself any favors. Instead, consider the ways that your goals for perfection are crippling your study experience and your ultimate opportunity to receive a passing score.
What Does Perfection Mean?
1. Perfection Means Burning Out
It’s no secret that bar prep requires a ton of effort. This process is quite difficult on its own, but if you challenge yourself to meet subjective ideals of perfection, it could lead to burnout.
A subjective ideal of perfection within this context means trying to study for the perfect number of hours, trying to do the right amount of practice questions, trying to review the ideal number of flashcards, and even trying to get the perfect score on practice tests. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have study goals that you aspire to achieve. But what are these goals based on? Are you basing this on what other people have done or suggested? If so, how do you know this applies to you?
Each individual should solely strive to achieve the study goals that are curated for their strengths and needs. If you apply the “perfect” ideals that have worked for others, you may just burn yourself out.
2. Perfection Means Diminishing Returns
Perfect means diminishing returns despite all your efforts. Diminishing returns is an economic theory that means that despite the increased efforts put into something, there comes a point where the benefit derived from this will be very small or even less than when less effort was exerted.
The same theory applies here. If you overexert yourself to achieve some subjective ideal throughout your bar prep this does not guarantee your success on the exam. In fact, it could mean that your performance on the exam is worse off than it would have been if you had a more reasonable study schedule.
Therefore, don’t overwork yourself trying to be perfect as there is no guarantee this will be beneficial.
3. Perfection Doesn’t Mean A Passing Bar Exam Score
If you learn nothing else from this article, consider the fact that perfection doesn’t mean a passing bar exam score. Even if you do absolutely “everything right” as subjectively defined by others, this does not mean that you will succeed. Some of the most brilliant people have failed the bar exam and some of the most exceptional students will fail it in the future. There are so many factors that can go into receiving a failing score. Considering this reality, it’s not worth it to burn yourself out or judge or compare your experience to an ideal that can make no guarantees.
What Can you Do to Improve?
1. Stop Striving to be Perfect
Stop striving to be perfect and simply aspire to be good. Perfection doesn’t truly exist, therefore placing all your efforts in grasping this ideal can just waste your time and burn you out in the long run.
When you are burnt out, you will undoubtedly lose focus and your study time won’t be as efficient or effective. Therefore, reformat your goals to simply do your best on the exam, instead of holding yourself up to a standard of perfection.
2. Create Your Own Goals
Take some time to create your own study goals and not goals based on a standard of perfection. Figure out your study strengths and weaknesses and put together a schedule where you can improve on your weaknesses and further develop your strengths. By framing your goals based on what works for you, you are putting in place an objective framework based on previous successes you have had. This method should likely be less stressful and more effective than meeting subjective goals of perfection.
3. Tell Yourself that Good is Sufficient
Simply tell yourself that you will do good on this exam and stop stressing about meeting some arbitrary goals of perfection. The more that you maintain a positive mindset, the more that you will have a better outlook and could accrue better results
Good luck on your upcoming exam!