Fighting Fear, Assessing Anxiety, and Diminishing Disappointment: Dealing With Bar Prep Emotions

Even though you’ve been through three years of law school, nothing you faced there quite compares to the type of emotions you feel while studying for the bar exam. Along the way, we’ve all felt a sense of fear, anxiety, disappointment, and frustration. These feelings are normal. However, you can’t let these feelings overcome your productivity. It’s important to acknowledge them and then to deal with them. Let’s talk a little bit about these different feelings and what we can do to overcome them.

Fear

Fear of failure is one of the most common feelings students experience throughout their bar prep. It’s a creeping thought in the back of your mind that seems to not go away, no matter how much you’re studying. Being nervous or a little scared is okay, it means something important is about to happen. Once the fear takes over your ability to focus and study, you need to find ways to combat this feeling. Try writing down everything you’re afraid of and come up with strategies to deal with it. Are you afraid of getting a lot of MBE questions wrong? Increase your MBE practice in your study schedule to strengthen your weakness. Are you afraid of running out of time on an MPT? Build in 2-3 MPTs per week into your practice so you can work on your timing. Finally, although this is difficult, stop thinking about the possibility of failing the exam. Instead, think of the opportunity to pass the exam. Turn “What happens if I fail” into “What happens if I pass.” Although I say this constantly, positivity really does make a difference in your productivity throughout your bar study. Think about success – not failure.

Anxiety

This is a high stakes exam, so anxiety is normal. It’s important to find ways to deal with anxiety so it does not become crippling. Practice mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises. These exercises can help you calm your nerves and study more effectively. Always remember the situations in which you felt really anxious, and the difficult moments you’ve already faced, and how you’ve gotten through those times. Let that help you get through this.

Disappointment

There’s a time when we all feel disappointed and frustrating during bar prep. We get disappointed in ourselves when we don’t do as well on a question set or as well on an essay when we have been studying for weeks. We feel like we are working hard and it’s not showing. It is showing. Every day and every week of bar prep gets you to where you need to be on an exam day. Today is not how you will perform on the bar exam. Tomorrow isn’t either. You need all of the time you are given to study to perform your best on the exam. Don’t let the feelings of disappointment defeat you – let them motivate you. Each study day is an opportunity to do better. Each practice test is an opportunity to score higher. If you feel like something you’re doing is not working, reevaluate your approach. Implement new strategies and ideas. Make the best use of your time instead of being weighed down in disappointment – rise up in motivation to always do better.

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