Thursday, January 26, 2023
Your bar prep program is enough, you are enough.
For February bar takers, this is your periodic reminder that your bar prep program (or the study plan you designed for yourself, if you are not using a company) is enough, and, as long as you actively engage with your program or study plan, you are enough.
After many exam cycles of working with bar studiers, I have learned that during bar review, studiers commonly hit a point where they start to know just enough to feel like they will never learn it all. This is normal, and it happens to many people. When you hit that point, when you feel like it is too much for you to possibly learn, a common reaction is for the learner to think one of two things must be true. Either 1) the bar review course they purchased is flawed or 2) they themselves are flawed in such a way that they are unable to learn the material.
You may be hitting that point and feeling those things. Don't get fooled, because neither one is true. The best response to those feelings is to take a deep breath and remember a few things before getting back to your program:
- Your bar review program is enough. If you bought one of the programs from one of the big names in bar preparation, it was designed by experts. These companies have subject matter experts and learning experts who understand the science of adult learning. They also have insight into bar exam drafting and grading. If you did not enroll in a program, you likely created a study plan and program for yourself, focusing on all the areas you know will be tested. Trust the process, trust your program, trust your plan. You bought the ticket, now take the ride.
- You are enough. You got through law school, during a challenging time in the world from every aspect. You can do this. Bar review is hard but I promise you, you can do hard things. You have already accomplished graduating from law school. Passing the bar is the next logical step. You can do it, and the path to success is to work your program or study plan. Don't give up, don't switch strategies. Just settle into your program every morning, and do what they tell you to do, when they tell you to do it. It is normal if you feel like you can't. Just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not working. This is a normal part of the learning process. Put another way (and said in the kindest and best-intentioned way): you are not special, you are normal just like the rest of us. You are struggling, just like the rest of us, and you can come out successful, if you keep doing what you're supposed to be doing.
- A word about well-meaning lawyers: There are lots of well-meaning lawyers out there who will offer advice. Many think that because they have passed one bar exam (and in some cases a long time ago), they are qualified to tell others how to pass a bar exam. I promise you, no friend or acquaintance or alumni knows better how to pass a bar exam than your bar prep program. Passing one bar exam, or even a couple of bar exams, does not make an individual an expert on how to pass bar exams. Put your trust in the experts and in your own abilities.
Bottom line: you can do this because you are enough. The way to get it done is to trust your program, whether that is commercially prepared or one you thoughtfully designed for yourself; do what you have scheduled, when it is scheduled. Email your academic support office or your favorite professor if you need a pep talk or a reminder to get back on schedule. You can do this. Stay on course. Trust the process. Trust yourself.