It is my pleasure to welcome back to the blog Elena DuCharme to chat about mindset and the bar exam. Elena is a lawyer turned performance coach who works with bar studiers to help them conquer fear and anxiety and find bar exam success.
Lee: Many people start worrying about their bar exam mental state after an unfortunate bar exam experience. I would recommend that bar studiers start to worry about their mental state before the exam, so they have coping mechanisms to call on when times get tough. Do you have any tips for law students who want to explore different ways of moving past anxiety and fear before entering bar prep?
Elena: Well, I don’t want to encourage you to worry if you’re not worried! But if you think there’s any chance that you’ll run into a mental or emotional block that may hamper your performance on the bar exam, it’s smart to look it squarely in the face. And the sooner the better, because it can take a little time to change the way you’re thinking and feeling—you may need to try some different approaches before you feel you can handle the bar with confidence.
And I agree 100% that having coping mechanisms to call on when times get tough is extremely important—not just for people who know they are anxious or worried, but for everyone. Just the fact that you have a coping mechanism is calming in and of itself.
Here’s what I’d say not to do: Don’t pretend that you’re not worried.
You can try to pretend you are over the fear, but it just doesn’t work. It’s going to come out somewhere or sometime that you don’t expect or want it to. This doesn’t mean it isn’t useful to put past negative experiences behind you and move on—that’s sometimes called denial, but denial can be an important coping tool for humans. But when you’re actively worried and afraid about the future, you want to acknowledge it and see what you can do to relieve it.
Then, if you’d like to explore some options for getting into an optimal bar exam mindset, here’s what I’d recommend:
1. Understand something about stress and anxiety.
You don’t have to become an expert, but educate yourself about how stress and worry impact the brain, so you have some context for why you may feel the way you do sometimes.
2. Make sure you’re working with a bar review course or tutor that’s a good fit for your specific needs.
By now, you probably know what approaches work best for you to learn both a lot of information (the law) and also the techniques and strategies for answering the different kinds of questions. Trusting your tutor or bar review course can make all the difference in your mental state.
3. Explore the options out there for training your brain to behave successfully under stress.
Whether it’s a meditation or mindfulness class, the resources in Bar Exam Toolbox, holosync (that’s an audio-based brainwave repatterning tool), hypnotherapy, energy psychology, or a coach or online course like mine that’s specifically tailored to bar-takers. Don’t overwhelm yourself with options – check out a few and see what resonates and seems most sustainable to you.
4. Try a few approaches and stick with what you like.
But always exercise—that’s a must!
So yes, it is good to get some of your worrying about your mental state taken care of well in advance of the bar exam!
Want help getting mentally ready? Check out Elena’s new program, Bar Exam Breakthrough. Bar Exam Breakthrough is an online course that’s designed specifically to address mental and emotional blocks that can sabotage bar exam performance, and build a confident focused, state of mind. The program uses a powerful combination of neuroscience-based processes that work at both the conscious and subconscious levels of your mind to actually rewire your brain patterns so you are not overanxious while studying and are optimally energized to study, learn and perform at your best on the exam.
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And check out these helpful posts:
- Can Yoga or Walking Help You Pass the Bar Exam?
- Two Simple, Non-Woo-Woo Ways to Calm Your Nerves and Boost Your Score on the Bar Exam
- Why Your Mindset Matters When it Comes to the Bar Exam
- Strategic Tips for Unwinding Stress