5 Reframes to Power Up Your Mind and Emotions for the Bar Exam Right Now

Preparing for the bar exam forces you to cycle through various emotions over weeks and months.

One moment calm, feeling like you’ve done all you could. Panic and anxiety the next moment. Frustration. Utter confusion. Overwhelm. Back to relief. Rinse and repeat.

Reality can betray the most reasonable of your expectations and daydreams at whim, coloring the past with regrets and the future with despair.

But it can also present us with gifts if you look carefully. Some days you have to look much harder than other days. 

If life only gives you lemons, you weren’t looking out for the oranges.

Here are five philosophies you can apply right now to mentally reframe how you feel about the bar exam:

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Admire the Buttcrack (and 9 Other Last Minute Tips for the Bar Exam)

Ahh shit… You utter the first word of the day as a dying declaration.

Because it’s time. Is it really that real? Let’s do this!

Implementing, practicing, and doing. I hope, by doing those things consistently, you’ve made solid progress!

Maybe you don’t feel ready. The good news is that the more prepared you actually are, the less you feel prepared. The bad news is that the other way isn’t necessarily true.

Not all hope is lost, ye weary traveler. It’s time to put your training to the test.

For now, go in with a “might as well, even if I don’t feel ready” or a “you never know until you try” attitude.

You'll never know unless you try

You’ll be able to say, “I’m glad I tried.”

You’ve worked hard these past weeks and months. You’ve come all this way. Let’s finish it without any hiccups at the very end.

We don’t want a “failure of the last mile” to undo all we’ve done up until now.

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What do REAL bar takers think of the remote/online bar exam? And their advice on how to study for an online bar exam

The bar exam world changed in 2020.

It became possible to take the bar exam remotely—from anywhere on the planet—thanks to the miracle of high-speed Internet. It’s the bandwidth revolution! The Great Reset!

But with new ideas come poo-poo-ers.

People were complaining about how it won’t work, they’re going to spy on us through the camera, there aren’t any bathroom breaks in the middle of a session, there will be tech issues, there are hackers, people will cheat, it’s too complicated, etc.

Some of it DID happen.

Some of it was preventable by bar takers (like remembering to go to the restroom beforehand).

People are calling for remote bar exams to be abandoned, proposing alternative formats, cutting multiple choice questions and making essays open book, and suggesting diploma and license privilege.

They are all valid concerns.

But just because something is uncertain or new doesn’t mean it’s always bad. (Remember when people complained when Facebook kept changing its interface and got used to it within a day?)

I don’t do doom and gloom here. Examples:

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Remote/Online Bar Exam Logistics and Strategies

You’re probably wondering how this whole remote bar exam thing is going to work.

  • Do I get scratch paper?
  • Can I use a desktop?
  • How many monitors can I use for ExamSoft/SofTest/Examplify (or whatever exam software)?
  • Do I need to be online?
  • Can I print?
  • Are they going to proctor me through a camera?
  • Can I take bathroom breaks?
  • What about cheating?
  • What about the MBE? How many questions? Is it all on a screen?
  • What if I’m handwriting?

Uh, yeah, I’m sure you have a lot of questions.

Right now, all the states are having a brawl and doing whatever they feel is necessary to conduct their bar exams.

Many states are shifting from in-person paper testing to an almost entirely digital exam, at least for the 2020 Fall bar exam. This is a significant change, and something worth discussing in terms of preparation and test-taking strategies.

This post will address two things:

  1. Testing mechanics for taking a remote bar exam. See below for information on all states, but the initial focus here is on California
  2. Strategies for preparing for and taking a test entirely on screen, assuming your state is administering the exam online and doesn’t allow paper for at least some portion

Btw I’m not going to call this an “online bar exam” because it’s done almost entirely OFFline. Only the check-ins sessions require an Internet connection.

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3 Things to Stop Telling Yourself Before the Bar Exam

Have you reached success in other parts of your life? School, relationships, a new hobby, an extracurricular your mom forced you to do in middle school?

Why not the bar?

As you try to push through this final stretch, you might have some doubts, frustrations, and a general sense of uncertainty. You can’t wait to abandon the bar like a New Year’s resolution and just be done with it!

“That’s normal. I can’t help it.”

The future is full of hope, however, because you don’t need to be extraordinary to pass the bar (although I’ll try to get you there). You can be “normal” and still become an attorney. It’s just a matter of when.

But what you can’t do is self-sabotage. You can help it if you choose to.

Here are three things you should stop telling yourself (one week before the bar exam, two weeks before, anytime you’re doubting yourself during preparation):

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