Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Every year, I am aware of the stress that bar studiers experience the week before the bar exam but I continue to be surprised by its various forms of manifestation. Some bar studiers are so fearful of the exam ahead that they consider sitting for the bar exam at a later date, some anticipate everything that could possibly go wrong, while others simply doubt their ability to pass after all the time and work they have invested. It is perfectly normal to have concerns and be nervous about the bar exam but when they ignore progress they have already made throughout the bar review process and when self-doubt, fear of failure, and a defeatist attitude dominate then momentum and progress made thus far could hinder the last few days of bar exam preparation. It is heartbreaking to be aware of the obstacles a bar studier has overcome to get to this point in bar preparation then see every bit of confidence they built up seemingly disappear. Worse of all is when the bar studier who served as the support system for other bar studiers breaks down. Fear is contagious and particularly when those who have relied on the strength of another become overwhelmed and scared when that person is overcome by fear and doubt.
If we are what we think then we must derive words that manifest our intentions and hopes. Even if we do not completely believe all that we say, we can at least state a desire we might like to see manifested and propel ourselves into making it a reality. Similarly, a change in attitude and a positive outlook on a situation may well become reality. I encourage bar studiers to have a few positive affirmations they can read out loud, say to themselves, or say with others. I ask them to think about something other than: “I will pass the bar exam.” I ask them to be specific with their choice of words to counter negative thoughts.
Below are some of the affirmations bar takers have shared with me over the years. Each is unique to individual bar taker’s state of mind and concern.
“I am capable of passing the bar exam because I have done everything necessary and in my power to ensure that result”
“I have been given endless talents which I can utilize to tackle unanticipated subjects on my essays and tasks on the MPT”
“I have a process for tackling MBE questions and when I panic, I will go back to my process”
“I have prepared for whatever comes my way (proctor failing to give 5-minute warning, others getting sick, others discussing issues I did not identify, etc..) on each exam day”
“I will stay away from people who create additional stress until the bar exam is over in order to surround myself with positivity”
“When I panic about my surroundings on exam day, I will remember that I have done this before (completed 200 MBEs in 6 hours) in bar review and get into my zone”
“I am capable, I made it through law school and can make it through this exam”
“I was very focused in my preparation for the bar exam so I am prepared”
“I will turn my nervous feelings into productive and positive energy to maximize my performance on this exam”
“I know most of what I need to know and what I don’t know I have a strategy for”
“Every day I got better at the tasks and will be my best on bar exam days”
“Passing the bar exam is not ACING the bar exam, it is achieving the passing score and I can do that. I reject the spirit of perfectionism”
“I succeed even in stressful situations”
“Today I release my fears and open my mind to new possibilities”
“Whatever I need to learn always comes my way at just the right moment”