I know what you are thinking: you have been studying for the bar for what seems like forever now, and you don’t want to hear more about it! I get it, bar prep is one of the most stressful times of your life. For me, it was too. I was overwhelmed, stressed, and felt like I was going insane. I have since taken, survived, and passed the bar exam. However, I wanted to reflect back to the last few days before I took the bar exam and remember how I survived that week (remembering the most stressful time in my life may be a form of insanity, but I digress). Here is my perspective on the last week before the bar exam to help you navigate your way through this very trying time.
What is Bar Prep Like?
Hectic? Overwhelming? Trying not to go stir crazy while trying to cram as much information into your head as possible? Bar prep is an inevitable evil. You need to study for the bar exam to pass the bar, but you just finished school and haven’t had a break so you are burnt out. (Stressful, right?) There are countless topics, so much information to go over, and numerous assignments and lectures that you need to complete for your bar prep course. However, it is important to practice and prepare so you do pass the bar exam. In short, bar prep is a continuous, anxiety-inducing cycle for a period that seems like forever.
The Last Week Before the Bar
The last week before the bar exam can feel like the end of the world. Every second counts, and you feel guilty every moment you aren’t studying. It seems like there is absolutely no time for breaks, fun, or even sleeping sometimes. Earlier in my bar prep, I would take a study break by going to the gym or getting a cup of coffee. However, during the last week before the bar exam, I was an absolute nervous wreck. I felt so focused but unfocused at the same time. I felt like I had all these things to study and remember and didn’t know where to start. However, this was the time that I buckled down, finished what I needed to do and finalized my preparation for the exam.
I have never felt more anxious or stressed out in my life. I am being 100% genuine here. I have had anxiety about tests, law school, or even trivial things before. I have never felt how I did when I was studying for the bar. I had a pit in my stomach that would make me nauseous. My blood pressure was through the roof. I would go between hardly eating or stress-eating everything in sight. This cranked-up to 100 during the week before the bar exam. I was an anxious ball of stress. However, I would fight through these moments and take a minute to breathe and calm down. Nonetheless, it is safe to say the anxiety was very real.
Throughout my bar prep experience, I felt waves of confidence. I would do well on a quiz or I would get good feedback on a graded essay, and I would feel like I knew what I was doing. Sometimes I felt so confident that I thought I would for sure pass the bar! And then I would have a panic attack thinking about how there was no way I was going to pass the bar exam. However, I reminded myself that I had been preparing and studying for months, and I just needed to push through the harder times to get to my end goal.
Picturing Success On the Bar Exam
If you think you are going to fail, you are setting yourself up for failure. Thus, during the last week before the bar exam, I would picture myself being successful and destroying the bar exam! I gave myself pep talks and worked through the anxiety and panic attacks. I told myself (and others) verbally that I would pass the bar so that I could put positive thoughts and vibes out into the universe. I had my eye on the prize.
Next Stop: The Bar Exam
The bar exam may seem like a distant battle that you will have to complete way in the future, but in reality, it is just around the corner. You have been preparing for the bar exam for longer than you think. Everything that you have done on your legal journey has helped prepare you for the bar exam. And whether you are a week before the exam or a few months, bar prep may make you anxious and stressed out. However, you will push through it, you will keep going, and you will be successful. Best of luck!