You’ve made it to the night before the bar exam! You’ve studied hard, taken care of yourself, downloaded the bar exam software, and packed for exam day. You’re ready right? So what do you do with yourself, on this last night, to set yourself up for success over the next two days?
1. If you haven’t prepared for exam day yet, do it!
If I’m wrong and you haven’t yet managed to prepare for exam day, do it now! Try to do it as early in the day as possible so you can still run to the store if needed.
2. Set your Alarm
Set your alarm. In fact, set two of them, and maybe ask a friend or family member to call you in the morning to make sure you are awake just to be safe. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to have a leisurely breakfast and get to the exam center early.
3. Set things out for the Morning
Set your clothes out, set your breakfast out (or in one place in the fridge), set your lunch out (or in one place in the fridge), set your laptop and all of your supplies out. Make tomorrow morning as stress-free as possible. You will almost certainly still feel stressed, it is the bar exam and that is normal, but the aim is to reduce unnecessary stress!
If there are a few things that you would like to review before the big day, dig in! But don’t try to cram all of criminal law into one night. This is a great day to review and refresh your memory before the exam, repeated exposure to material helps tremendously and what you review today will be fresh in your mind tomorrow. But don’t let some time reviewing keep you from the other things on this list.
5. Exercise (but only if you are used to it)
Exercise is wonderful for you, it helps you think and sleep better, and you should have been exercising throughout your bar exam prep. If you have been exercising, keep it up! Today is a great day to take advantage of those endorphins and and get you feeling great for tomorrow! But if you haven’t been exercising, today may not be the day to start with something strenuous. You don’t want to hurt yourself today—you don’t want to be distracted by pain or uncomfortable sitting through the exam. So if you haven’t been exercising regularly, try something mellow today like a nice walk.
6. Stay Hydrated
You don’t want to be dehydrated the day of the exam, but you also don’t want to be drinking a lot of water during the exam since it will require a lot of breaks or a lot of discomfort. Use the day before the exam to ensure you are well-hydrated, and stop drinking a couple of hours before you plan to go to sleep.
Eat something that you comfortable with and that makes you feel happy and healthy. This is not the night to try a new restaurant, or a new type of food. Instead, go with something you know your stomach approves of. Remember that greasy or fried foods can lead to lethargy and a lot of salt and sugar can lead to abdominal discomfort for some people. Eat something that you know helps you to feel your best. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can interfere with sleep patterns.
8. Spend an Hour or Two on Something that Relaxes you and makes you Feel Happy
Studying for the bar exam is a marathon. Reward yourself for making it this far with an hour or two of something to decompress and that makes you feel great. Watch a funny movie, catch up on an episode of television you’ve been saving, read a chapter of a book you’ve wanted to get to, laugh with friends. You can consider this part of the regime of self-care that you have been living by, or an important break for your brain. That hour or two of enjoyment can put you into a better frame of mind heading into exam day, setting you up for success.
9. Stay away from Screens for an Hour or Two Before Bedtime
The science is in, using your smartphone, tablet, computer or television before going to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep, make your sleep quality worse, and affect your performance the next day. Stay away from your electronic devices for an hour or two before going to sleep to help ensure you get the best night of sleep possible.
10. Get a Good Night of Sleep
Give yourself the opportunity for a nice long night of sleep. Go to bed early enough that you have a bit of time to fall asleep and still get a full night of rest. If you have trouble falling asleep, don’t try an over-the-counter sleep aid unless you use them regularly already. They may lead to drowsiness the next day and tonight is not a good night to experiment. Make sure your room is cool and dark, and spend some time breathing quietly in bed with your eyes closed. Chances are, you’ll fall right to sleep.
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