It is almost the time of year again when thousands of law school graduates take the bar exam. The bar exam is much more than finding out which students remember the Rule Against Perpetuities (or lack thereof). The bar exam tests analytical skills and the ability to survive under pressure. Here are some tips for your last couple of weeks:
1) Prepare For the Worst
I took the California bar exam and on the third day, my laptop failed to set up, so I had to write the entire day. It was literally a pain in the neck as a day before the bar exam, I pulled a muscle in my neck. I passed despite the setbacks. When earthquakes happened or power outages occurred, students had to keep working through. If you have a history of bad luck or like being prepared for the worst, prepare for a few of the distractions that could occur. While you are learning criminal law and family law, remember Murphy’s Law is never far behind.
2) Keep Up With What Works for You
By now you’ve gotten loads of solicited and unsolicited advice on how to pass the bar exam. But if you’ve made it through law school, you’ve probably got some kind of an idea which type of studying works for you. I went to school with a girl who wrote on the boards in every classroom in a strange diagonal pattern. As strange as it was, it worked for her and she stuck to it. If you are a night owl, don’t change that just because a bar exam program suggests a 10 p.m. bedtime.
3) Fear and Anxiety are Part of the Process
Crying, yelling, having nervous breakdowns. They are all a part of the process. I was recently reminded of this by a friend who is about to take the bar exam. If you are scared, stressed and anxious, you’re doing just fine. If every other thing in your life has been set aside, perhaps to the detriment of those things, you’re doing just fine. The bar exam is not just about the test. It’s about everything that leads up to the test and who you become because of the test.
4) Take Some “You” Time
There are always more rules to analyze, more practice tests to take and more MBEs to decide the “rightest answer” for. A part of being a lawyer is deciding when is enough. So when you decide that you’ve analyzed enough for the week, set your guides and outlines down for a while, and take a little “you” time. Recharging is just as important as reworking your outline for the hundredth time. If you really are a glutton for punishment, like getting scared straight, or want to watch someone else’s suffering, then Netflix the 2007 film “A Lawyer Walks Into A Bar.”
5) Cheer Up, Those Bells Will Ring
If you are in Minnesota, you’ll be at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium, which is great because you will be legendary. Professors say that law school is about getting the little bell in your head to ring whenever there is a legal issue. Those bells will certainly ring throughout the bar exam. You will put things on the paper that you will be sure a professor never said and at the same time you will be sure it is right. And then it will be over.
Your friends will pass. And so will you.