By this point, the bar exam is right around the corner. Some may be feeling anxious, and others may be dying to just get it over with. Similarly, some students spend the week before the bar exam cramming, while others just relax and take it easy. What is the best approach?
We want every student to be successful on the bar exam, and that includes utilizing the week before the exam to the best of your ability. Here is a list of things you should consider doing the week before the exam to ease nerves, to study effectively, and to promote success on the exam!
1. Get in the Right Mindset
Be positive, not negative. Believe it or not, there is merit to the “power of positive thinking.” Start each day the week before the bar exam with a positive affirmation. Do not start your days with negative emotions because of the stress and anxiety the anticipation of the exam may bring. Instead of letting these overwhelming feelings dominate you, start your day with positive affirmations. Talk to yourself in the mirror, even if that seems silly, and tell yourself that you can do this – that you are fierce, and that you are more than capable! Constantly remind yourself of the work you put in, and that hard work will create success for you.
You want to walk into the bar exam in good spirits. Using the time the week before the exam to get into the right mindset is critical. You want to show up with confidence and with a positive mind, so utilize the week before the bar exam to get in the right mindset!
2. Do Not Cram for the Exam!
Study effectively, not frantically. It’s nearly impossible to get a vast amount of information stored in your memory in one week. Instead of sitting at a desk and trying to cram, focus on applying the concepts you have been studying with MBE questions and essays. Use the week before the exam to get a lot of practice in. This will not only help you review the substantive law and concepts, but it will also help you work on your test-taking skills at a time when the exam is right around the corner.
When you’re reviewing your outlines, do not try to review every subject in one day. That will make you feel like you cannot retain any of the information, and may get you panicked! Instead, focus on reviewing a few subjects per day – that will help you with retention and your stress. At the beginning of the week schedule your week out with all of the subjects you are going to review per day and what practice you are going to do each day. Making this schedule can ease your mind and minimize your stress.
3. Work on Practicing in Test-Like Conditions
Utilize this week to fine-tune your testing ability. You should be doing all of your practice for the MBE and writing portions under time constraints and test-like conditions. You want to make sure that you can answer all the questions in the time allotted for you.
You should also be studying and practicing in the time that the bar exam is administered. If you’ve been waking up at noon and studying until midnight, change your habits. Wake up early in the morning, and begin studying at 8 AM until about 4 PM. You want to get your brain conditioned into doing its best thinking at the time the bar exam would be administered to get yourself ready to go come exam day!
4. Smooth Out the Logistics
Get organized, not overwhelmed. One aspect of the exam that is a source of stress for students is figuring out logistics of the bar exam. How far is my hotel from the test center? What time is check in? What can I bring into the exam? Early on in the week before the bar exam, create a list of all of the administrative tasks that you need to do. Pack what you need to pack. Any minimizing of stress you can do this week is going to help you!
5. Rest and Rejuvenate!
Be relaxed, not burned out. Block out time in your calendar to rest and do activities you enjoy this week. You do not want to burn out the week before the bar exam – you want to do just the opposite! Rejuvenate and get rid of any self-doubt you may have. Sleep, eat well, and exercise. Keep up the healthy and helpful routines that you have had throughout your bar study – do not let them falter just because you’re stressed that the exam is coming. Walking into exam day rested and rejuvenated will give you the mental state you need to pass the exam.
Remember that it is okay to be nervous, because being nervous means that something important is about to happen. The bar exam is one of the biggest and most important tests you’ll ever take. Trust yourself – you know more than you think you do. Let that trust in yourself allow you to rest, and be the best version of yourself when you sit for the exam.