Readers often send me emails with questions about their individual bar exam experiences. And one question I have been getting a lot recently is what to do if your bar exam practice scores are actually going down the more you study. Are you feeling this way? If so, you are not alone.
First, let’s remember that you don’t want to fixate on practice scores. This can send you to a bad mental place, which in the end becomes detrimental to your studying.
But let’s be honest—if your practice scores are taking a turn for the worse (or are worse than a previous study period for a past bar exam), you need to come up with a game plan of what to do about it!
Your Game Plan
1. Evaluate your study regimen.
Perhaps you are spending the majority of your time listening to recorded lectures. Perhaps you are staring at your outline every day for hours on end. Perhaps you are doing all of your practice between 5 and 7 a.m. and 7 and 10 p.m. due to your work schedule. No matter what you are doing, if things are going downhill, you need to sit back and make sure you are studying in the best way possible. Typically, this means focusing on practice, practice, practice.
A note to those who are working and studying. Practicing late at night or early in the morning can actually cause your scores to go down because you are exhausted. So to get an accurate read on your performance, you might want to take a long lunch to do some practice or focus on practice scores on the weekends.
2. Avoid self-sabotaging behavior.
I just needed to call out this one because it comes up over and over again with studiers (and, really, all of us). At various times, we often practice self-sabotaging behavior. This is likely to result in disappointing practice scores, making us more frustrated and depressed and in turn less confident when we get to the exam. What are examples of some of these behaviors?
- Studying where you are constantly interrupted so you can’t focus and do your best.
- Creating a study schedule that is unmanageable so you cannot keep up and you constantly feel behind.
- Telling yourself you don’t “have time” to practice or study.
- Not taking care of yourself, so you become exhausted and feel bad. (This includes lack of sleep, eating badly, drinking—you get my drift.)
If you find yourself practicing self-sabotaging behavior, you have the power to change. You can make this bar preparation a priority. But you have to look at your habits and be honest with yourself about what you are actually doing.
3. Ask yourself if you are burned out.
It is incredibly easy to get burned out while studying for the exam. Burnout comes in many forms, but it can really cause your performance to drop. If you are concerned you are burned out, you should take a break now. The thing about burnout is it doesn’t get any better if you continue to ignore it.
4. Get help if you need it.
If you are really struggling and can’t figure out what is going on, it is time to ask for help. Help can come in many forms: a trusted mentor, a friend, a family member, a therapist, an academic support professional at your school, or a bar exam tutor. If you need help, I really encourage you to use all your resources. You will be glad you did!
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Don’t Get Fixated on Practice Scores
- Why Do We Have to Write Out Practice Exam Answers?
- 5 Tips or Studying for the Bar Exam While Working
- Can I Take a Break From Studying from the Bar Exam?