How To Avoid Excess Bar Exam Anxiety
Bar exam anxiety, while extremely common, is nevertheless difficult to deal with, especially as the exam grows closer. In this post, we give five helpful techniques to help you channel your bar exam anxiety into more positive directions!
How To Avoid Excess Bar Exam Anxiety
1. Avoid reviewing new material or practicing questions the day before the bar exam if possible!
If you are having bar exam anxiety leading up to the test, the last thing you want to do the day before the bar is stress yourself out more. We’ve found that students who do timed exams or try to review new material only get more anxious about the exam. Any new information you try to cram in at the last minutes isn’t going to stick with you. So, avoid timed exams and covering new material the day before the exam. These will only increase your bar exam anxiety!
If you find it impossible to not cover something the day before the exam, that’s normal too. Some of our students are more stressed out if they aren’t studying. After months of prep, it feels normal to them to continue reviewing. If you are one of these people, that’s fine! Just keep your review to what you’ve seen already! Otherwise, it’s better to just give yourself a mental break and not study at all!
2. Visualize yourself succeeding on the bar exam.
Although it may be difficult to be positive right before the bar, visualize yourself acing it. Visualization is a powerful way to reset your mind, and push aside your bar exam anxiety. Imagining yourself passing the bar exam allows your mind to see it as a possibility. Many of our students have credited visualization techniques with reducing their bar exam anxiety.
So, try to keep your thoughts positive as much as possible! If you continuously picture yourself freezing up and failing, it will be much more difficult to change your mindset on exam day. Therefore, focus instead on how far you’ve come in your studies, and how much you know! Imagine that on test day, you are in complete control, and have instant and perfect recall of all your prep material. Allow your mind to positively frame your experience. You’ll be surprised how much this can help on test day!
3. Get excited to take the bar!
This tip goes hand in hand with the one above. There’s not much difference between anxious and excited nerves. So, why not try to channel your bar exam anxiety into excitement? Instead of seeing the exam as the end of a period of tortuous study, see it instead as the culmination of all your hard work. After this, you will be free! Use this approach, combined with visualization techniques described above, to look forward to, instead of dread, the bar exam. Although it seems a fine line, this can really change your outlook and help you on exam day. Studies show it can also increase your score!
4. Prepare yourself well in advance.
Beyond simply mastering the material, many people are stressed out about traveling to the bar exam. Preparing for your bar exam day well in advance of test day is also another way to reduce your bar exam anxiety. Therefore, make sure to plan your hotel stay as soon as you can. If you think you might need extra items, like a microwave, fan, or coffee maker in your room, call well ahead of time. These things are generally first come, first serve! Also feel free to pack your suitcase with any items you’ll need, and leave enough time to add anything you might forget in the moment. We have a very helpful bar exam packing checklist for those who aren’t sure what to bring! All these steps can help you burn off some bar exam anxiety ahead of time. Don’t leave anything until the last moment that could bring you extra stress!
5. Remember: you can’t know everything!
Our last piece of advice for dealing with bar exam anxiety is that you can’t know everything for the bar…nor are you expected to! You do not need to know everything to pass. Let’s say your jurisdiction requires a 270 (out of 400) to pass a UBE (or a 135 if you are in Michigan or a state that uses a 200-point scale). That is 67.5 percent. That is a D+! When has a D+ ever been what you aimed for? Also, this is a scaled D+! So you do not even need to get a 67.5% — you can actually get a much lower score and STILL pass. You could probably even get a “failing” grade and still pass the exam!
So, while you should have a healthy respect for the bar exam and prepared diligently for it, it’s normal not to feel completely prepared! You can still pass the exam without knowing everything!
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