To every parent sitting proudly in the audience of their child’s law school graduation ceremony, smiling gratefully for pictures with your child in cap and gown, or celebrating your child’s accomplishment with a toast, the journey isn’t over yet. After three years of law school, there is still one very big hurdle for your child to jump before she becomes a lawyer: the bar exam. They will usually take all the help they can get, so if your child will be preparing for the bar exam over the next several weeks, here are some dos and don’ts to help you support their efforts.
Do make sure she takes some time to rest and recharge.
Preparing for the bar exam involves many long days of watching lectures, reviewing notes, memorizing legal rules, taking multiple choice questions, and writing essays. To avoid burnout before the exam, it’s important to periodically take time away from studying to rest and recharge. Encourage your child to maintain a healthy study schedule that includes adequate sleep and regular study breaks (and if you want to treat her to the occasional dinner or a night out, I’m sure she wouldn’t object to that!)
Don’t burden her with distractions.
Your child’s study periods will be most productive if she is able to concentrate and focus exclusively on the material she needs to learn. Additionally, she’ll need to devote the majority of each day to studying. To that end, do your best to keep family issues, personal burdens, or other distractions away from your child. As selfish as it may sound, preparing for the bar exam (not dealing with sensitive family dynamics) needs to be your child’s priority in the weeks before the exam. You can help your child remain focused on her goal by not burdening her with unnecessary distractions that will break her concentration and take time away from studying.
Do give her a confidence boost.
The high stakes of the bar exam, not to mention the incredible amount of information that must memorized, can intimidate even the most successful of students. Although it’s normal for bar preppers to feel anxious about the exam and insecure about their own abilities, too many negative thoughts will only hinder a student’s performance on the exam. So sympathize with your child’s worries, but also remind her that she is more than capable of passing this test. Make sure she recognizes her strengths and acknowledges her efforts so that she can walk in to the exam feeling confident and secure.
Don’t enable bad study habits.
Much like law school, succeeding on the bar exam requires self-discipline, hard work, and commitment. Your child is ultimately the only person responsible for whether she adequately prepares for the exam, but you can help by not turning a blind eye when she procrastinates, or worse, by reassuring her that she can pass without putting in the same amount of study time as other students. Instead, give your child a gentle reminder (or a full-throated guilt trip if needed) about the importance of good preparation and the costs of neglecting her studies.
Do let her know you’re proud of her accomplishment, regardless of the outcome.
Undoubtedly the most important thing a parent can do while their child is studying for the bar exam is to keep doing what you’ve probably been doing since your child was born: let her know you love her, you believe in her, and you are proud of her. Most students are acutely aware of the of the impact failing the exam will have on their career prospects, their financial situation, and their self-image, so they don’t need anyone adding to the pressure. Whether she passes or fails, your child will be grateful for your unconditional support throughout the experience.
The bar exam is usually the culmination of a long journey for the student, and probably for you as a parent too. A parent’s support during the stressful weeks leading up to the exam can be extremely helpful for an anxious bar prepper, but ultimately, the bar exam is a challenge your child will have to conquer alone. Trust that she has acquired the tools she needs to succeed, whether that means celebrating a pass result on the first time or finding the courage to try again.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- How Can Parents Help Their Student Who Failed the Bar Exam
- Are You Living With a Bar Exam Studier? Here’s How to Cope
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- How Can You Support Your Bar Studier?
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