If you are reading this post, then you super close to the finish line! You have been prepping daily like an athlete and your moment to shine (or show the bar exam grader what you know) is almost here!
Here are some strategies to consider in the week leading up to the exam:
1. Have a plan to combat exam fatigue
The bar exam is all about preparation and that includes being prepared for exam fatigue on test-day!
For example, staring at a computer screen while typing the MPT and the MEEs can be tiring. In fact, the effects of glaring into a computer screen for a long period of time includes eye strain, which can cause your eyes to feel heavy and irritated.
Some techniques can be used to help you get back on track during the exam include:
For eye strain:
- Look away from the laptop and down at your exam materials—it can help you to take a quick and subtle eye break from the screen.
- Use eye drops for eye dryness.
- Try using blue light glasses to protect your eyes from strain
For neck and back pain:
- Be sure to practice and prepare stretches that can easily be done right at your desk and chair
- For example, try movements such as a neck roll
- Familiarize with acupuncture point techniques you can use while sitting.
- For example, applying pressure to your forehead can help to boost the nervous system, which can add calmness and relieve stress
Pain related to typing:
- Move your hands
- Wiggle your fingers
2. Plan out your break time
Consider your options for your break, and how you should best structure it so that you can:
- Eat a nutritious meal
- Stretch your legs, back, neck—anywhere you may feel stiffness and discomfort.
- Get some sun and fresh air if possible
- If you are taking the exam in a busy city then prepare:
- how to navigate and/or avoid added stimuli that may stress you out such as crowds and noise by having a friend deliver a meal during lunch so that you don’t need to find food and wait on a long line
3. Have a plan to combat negative thoughts
It is completely normal and common to feel overwhelmed at this point and to feel like there is still so much more to learn. I recall my friends expressing that there was not enough time to learn everything and feeling like they were going to blank out on the rules. Trust your preparation process so far and that everything you have learned will be enough on exam day. The fact is that it is not possible or even recommended to study 24/7, and there is no expectation to know every single item being tested with 100% confidence. Be reasonable and kind with yourself.
You can prepare to accept that you are sufficiently ready for this exam which is testing minimal competence. You can prepare to trust that in a moment where you cannot choose between the remaining couple of answer choices that you will make the best choice according to your preparation and feel good on being done with it. You can prepare to move on and not look back with confidence because you did the best you could in that moment and there are more points to be gained ahead.
4. Start a good sleeping routine
Kudos to you if you already have this part down! It is critical that you are well-rested for the exam. In fact, getting the recommended amount of sleep, especially a week from the exam, allows the information you are learning to digest and enter your long-term memory.
Some of the ways you might be able to sleep better:
- Lavender mist for your pillow
- Eye Sleep Mask
- Writing down a list of your thoughts before bed to dump the running list out of your brain
In general, try your best to relax, rest and take it easy! You will be able to relax in knowing that you have prepared and you are prepared. The best way to approach the exam and to think clearly is to have a clear and relaxed mind.
6. Get Logistics Done
Preparing for the logistics of exam day is way to be relaxed and confident on exam-day.
My favorite law professor would always remind me to equip myself with information when I am stressed. So, if you are feeling uneasy about the exam day logistics, the venue, etc., then gather information you need. If you haven’t already, figure out loose ends so that nothing comes as a surprise regarding travel, lodging, items to bring such as a mask, if you can bring personal belongings, and where to leave your belongings, etc.
Taking some of the steps outlined above can put you at ease for the exam. However, know that you are ready to confront the not-so-scary monster known as “the bar!” Your preparation got you this far and will get you to the other side. Know that we are rooting for you!