Thursday, December 4, 2014
On the morning I had to take my very first law school exam, I woke up believing I had been struck blind. My eyes were sealed shut. I stumbled around my apartment, tripping over my roommates who lived on the floor (long story) and made my way to the bathroom. I got my eyes unstuck with hot water and a washcloth. It turned out I had pink eye -- which I have never had before or since.
By the time everything was sorted out, I had something like 20 minutes until my exam started. I hopped on my bike, flew down the hill, and made it to the exam just in time for everyone to scatter away from me as I sat down for the exam. I could barely see, but the exam turned out fine. I eventually went to student health who: 1) asked me how often I hung out with young children (I was 22 and single, so never); 2) told me not to smoke (I didn't); and 3) sent me home with eyedrops, a handout on safe sex, and a condom.
Based on that exam experience (and others, including a woman who cried next to me during the entire bar exam), I always tell my students to simply expect the worst when they are getting prepared for exams. Expect the exam room to be too cold, flooded with raw sewage, or infiltrated with wild dogs. Expect your car not to start, your dog to eat your textbook, and a marching band to tune up outside the exam room. Expect your computer to crash. Expect the power to go out. Expect weird questions on the exam.
And, if none of that happens, great.
But if something like that does, don't let it throw you. Too many students let monkeywrenches take out the whole engine.
After falling into a fountain, Peter Sellers, as Inspector Clouseau in the film A Shot in the Dark, says "It's all part of life's rich pageant" (strangely enough, a clip is not floating around the Internet). Along with being the title of the best R.E.M. record, it's a pretty good attitude to have regarding hiccups and problems during exam week.
Things are going to happen -- study enough and feel confident enough that you can simply roll with the punches.