So it’s here. Some may call it the week in which you will experience the most anxiety of your lifetime. Whereas others may call it the last seven days that you have to create an exit strategy. I mean is it really worth it to become a lawyer after three years of law school and months of preparing for the bar? Well, in all reality this is the final week before the bar exam and yes, it is completely worth it to follow through after all the sacrifice you’ve put in! So how about changing your entire outlook on this final week? The week before the bar exam doesn’t have to be as dreadful as you anticipated. This is the week in which you get to show yourself how prepared you really are to take on this monster. These are the seven days in which you get to dot all your “I’s” and cross your “T’s” in ensuring you have a complete grasp on all the information you already know. This is the week in which you can ultimately begin the wind down process on what has been several months of focus and dedication, and you can begin looking forward to the product of your hard labor, finally becoming an attorney!
Now if you’re going to change your outlook on how to best handle this week, there are a few things you must do to avoid falling into the trap of nerves, anxiety and cold sweats that stereotypically get the best of bar exam takers. Try applying the tips below and then don’t be surprised when you confidently sashay into both days of the exam.
1. Stop Checking your Rank
The very first thing you can do to build your confidence the week before the exam, is to stop checking your rank against other students completing your bar prep course. I’m not sure about the scoring details of other bar prep courses, but I do recall that Barbri ranked us on a scale against other Barbri users for pretty much every MBE quiz we completed. Now I will admit that these rankings are very helpful in the beginning because it gives you a rough visual of how you rank against other prospective exam takers in certain subject areas. This gives you an understanding of which courses you’re excelling in and which courses need more work. But I know I can speak for other exam takers when I say, I became almost obsessed with checking my ranking. It started out slowly when I would casually sneak a peek at how I was doing maybe once a week or so and needless to say I felt like I was “killing it” in the beginning, but, after receiving a low ranking for the simulated MBE, and, after my ranking in other subject areas began fluctuating, I got to the point where I would be checking several times a day and trying to calculate how my ranking would translate to my actual exam rank. Please don’t let this be you! If your bar exam course offers this ranking option, use it wisely. You can keep track of how you’re doing throughout the course, but don’t become fixated! If you find yourself becoming a “rank checker addict” up to the week before the bar, you need to quit cold turkey! Checking your rank a week before the bar won’t make a difference, so spare yourself the stress and stop checking!
2. Binge Complete Practice MBE’s, Essays and MPT’s
During the week before the bar you need to apply your supreme binging skills towards practice questions. Although, by this point, you may have already completed thousands of MBE questions, keep the ball rolling. During this final week complete as many additional practice MBE questions that you can get your hands on. By the final week, I had already completed pretty much all the questions in my BARBRI book. Therefore, I switched to other sources. My favorite was the Emanuel’s Strategies & Tactics for the MBE book. I found that there were many different question types that I didn’t encounter in my prep course so I spent the week completing them and also combing through the answers with a fine tooth comb.
I also used this week to complete all the essays I didn’t get to in my prep course and also went over essay answers I already completed. I think the most helpful activity was forming an essay study group in which my friends and I presented our varied answers to essay questions and used the opportunity to add those new points to the material we already knew.
I also went over all the remaining MPT’s that I didn’t get to in my prep course and did this under timed conditions. In fact, I recommend you complete all your binge studying activities under timed and true test conditions. This final week is the time in which you should ensure you have your attack plan down for the exam. For example: how long you will spend on each question and exactly when you will take each bathroom break and each mental/stretch break? This week is crucial in ensuring that your desired exam taking strategies have become habit.
3. Two Days Before, Start Winding Down and Confirm Your Logistics
Two days before the exam you need to start winding down. It’s important that you don’t go into the exam in a high-strung state of mind. So, two days before, maybe cut down your binge studying to just a few questions a day. Use this time to casually go over flash cards. I recall just taking a walk around my neighborhood as I reviewed flash cards. Also, during this winding down period, make sure all your logistics are in place. Review the exam rules and be sure about exactly what you can and cannot bring into the examination center. If you’re traveling to your exam location within these two days, make sure you go over your itinerary beforehand. You want to make sure that this trip is as smooth as possible. But most importantly, two days before the bar you need to remember to breathe. This is the best way to get rid of the panic and anxiety you’re experiencing. You’ve spent several months preparing for this exam so be confident in the knowledge you have and own it!