Updated: Jul 14, 2020
As if face masks, social distancing, and uncertain job prospects weren’t enough, now you are confronted with another wall to climb: passing the bar exam this summer. What a mess! But let me tell you, you’re not the first one, and there are ways to cope with and OWN this test. Trust me. I’ve done it. Three times. In three states. Successfully.
I’m not going to lie. Passing the bar three times was not easy. Besides studying hard, I had to learn to conquer my fears, anxiety, and feelings of self-doubt. In other words, I had to work on my frame of mind.
Being mentally prepared for the bar exam is important now more than ever because you will be the first group to take the bar exam during a pandemic. States are making adjustments because after all, the show must go on. But how are test-takers mentally preparing for the changes? Whether you are having a tough time dealing with this pandemic or whether you are taking it like a champ, find methods now to calm your anxiety or reduce negative self-talk which is critical for success on the bar.
I have two vivid memories of when I took the Florida bar exam: Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in full gear, stretchers and all, outside the exam room, and metal detectors at sign-in. I wasn’t expecting either. Twelve years later, memories continue to haunt me because they messed with my head. On exam day! EMTs! I immediately thought, if the bar exam organizers had them there, it was for a reason. Panic reared its ugly head and I had to talk myself off the ledge. OK, I may be exaggerating a bit here about my anxiety level, but I am driving a point home.
What I learned from taking (and passing) the bar exam several times is that it tests, not only your knowledge of legal concepts, but also mental strength. Don’t ignore this critical component of success on the bar exam– your frame of mind. Some of you may think this is new-agey or secondary to studying but it isn’t. Just like athletes before a game, you need to know there will be triggers that can take you out of your game, and have tools to quickly get you back on track.
Which brings me to my main message: EMTs, metal detectors, you and hundreds of test-takers wearing masks, few and far-between bathroom breaks, and following whatever rules are now in place at your exam site will no doubt on some level have an effect on your mental state. There are tools out there to help you mentally prepare so these factors don’t throw you off track. Learn and implement your method of choice now so you can stay “in the zone.”
Get your mind in the right place so you can get the most out of your studying... and own the bar exam.
You’ve got this!
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