The last week before the Bar exam probably ranks as one of the least fun weeks in the lives of anyone who has taken it.
There’s no time left for procrastination, yet working out or making dinner or cleaning your apartment never seems quite so pressing as it does when you are facing more practice questions.
Sitting in our law library the last week before the exam, we saw people who had recently become chain smokers rushing outside every 10 minutes, people who seemingly had not left their chairs in a full 24 hours and one person who just put her head down and cried.
As we are one of those lucky few who have taken two Bar exams (once in Texas and once in New York), we can offer advice that’s hopefully helpful, though admittedly not any more “expert” than the tons of advice you are getting from every other lawyer out there.
Both times, we spent the last week studying the BarBri mini-review, generally following the BarBri schedule and doing tons of practice questions. That’s pretty standard — there’s no secret formula as to how to study the material, it just has to be done and practice questions seem the best way to do it.
But what we think is the key to the Bar is trying to be calm when you grade your practice tests and do miserably (or what you feel is miserably) on some of them. Remember that you are an overachiever who is used to getting top marks. But top marks are not required on the Bar exam.
The test itself is not easy, but it is easy to pass. The curve is huge, and the percentages are very much on your side.*
So calm down and keep studying. And try to give yourself a break the day before.
Did we do all of these calming things in the week before the exam? No. We shed a few tears, cursed our general lack of intelligence and swore we would fail. Both times.
But we didn’t. And you probably will not either. It’s a rotten week, but it’ll soon be over. And then you can look back at how stressed you were, and laugh. Actually, you’ll still kind of wince. It’s not funny, even in hindsight.
*Yes, it’s true. Some people will fail, and many second-time takers sit for the February exam. We know many smart people who just did not have their best day when they took it the first time. But they all survived, they all passed the second time, and the world did not end.
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