Are You in Bar Exam Panic Mode?

July 14, 2014 Leah Singer

It’s July, and the bar exam is nearing closer. If you’re starting to panic because the date is only a few weeks away, you’re not alone. Nearly all students sitting for the bar exam feel this way in July. While the stress will certainly increase this month, there are ways to alleviate the anxiety. Here are five tips to quell bar exam panic.

Identify what’s giving you trouble and focus on that. At this point in your study schedule, you likely know which subjects are going smoothly and which ones aren’t. If you’re freaking out about certain areas of the test, start focusing on those and spend less time on others. For example, if you’re acing the essay questions but struggling with the MBE questions, focus more of your time on the MBE questions. Take practice tests and time your sessions. While it may be a bit late to find a tutor, there are many study materials available for purchase, including videos, outlines, and flash cards.

Stick to your study schedule. You’re likely starting to feel overwhelmed with the amount of law you’re studying, and you may feel the urge to cram more study time into your day; however, studying too much will ultimately lead to frustration and failure. Pull out your study schedule, and if it’s working for you, keep going with it. Your calendar is your friend and will help you stay focused.

If you’ve identified areas that you need to focus more time on, revise your schedule to include them. If your study schedule does not include timed practice exams, make sure those are added to the plan as well.

Get yourself help if you’re feeling mentally overwhelmed and panicked. Feeling stressed about the bar exam is normal, but if you’re experiencing panic attacks and feeling mentally drained from studying, get help to make the last few weeks easier. Don’t be afraid to talk with a coach or counselor, either. If you’re not sure where to find help, contact your law school’s counseling or advising office and ask for a referral.

If obtaining professional assistance is not an option for you, put into practice your own stress-management techniques. Things like yoga, meditation, visualization, and journaling can be incredibly helpful to alleviate anxiety. There are several meditation apps and free resources online that can help, too, and remember to take study breaks, exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep during the next few weeks.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Talking with other students and comparing your bar prep to their bar prep can cause you to panic in the weeks before the bar exam. Remember that every person studying for the bar has different strengths, weaknesses, and mindsets. If you hear colleagues talking about how well they’re doing on the MBE, do not panic if the MBE is more challenging for you. The bar exam is not about how well everyone else does; it’s solely about whether you pass.

Take care of the things you can control. For many people, panicking over how much constitutional law or real property law to study is the reality. While you may not be able to control how much you can memorize, put your mind at ease by taking care of the tasks that don’t require a major brain workout. Schedule some time to arrange a hotel or place to stay during the bar exam, and map out your transportation plan. If you’re planning to take the exam on your laptop, make sure you test your computer ahead of time and install the specialized software. These may seem like small tasks, but accomplishing them will give you a sense of control during a time that feels very out of control.

Studying for the bar exam is an incredibly stressful time. It’s absolutely normal to feel panicked during the next few weeks; however, if you put into practice a few of these suggestions, you’ll find yourself feeling calmer as the bar exam approaches.

Good luck!


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