Limit Time with Others Also Studying for the Bar
If you are studying for the bar, there is a good chance you are doing so with friends you made in law school. Although this can be helpful, it is just as important to spend time with people that are not studying for such a stressful exam. This is the only way you are going to remember that there is life outside of studying, and it can definitely help alleviate your stress.
Take Care of Yourself
Again, it is very easy to forget about everything else and only see that all-important exam when you are studying for the bar. However, it is just as important, if not even more so, to take care of yourself during this time. Eat nutritious meals and snacks to stay fueled, try to exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Too many law school graduates stay up all night studying in order to cram as much information into their brains as possible. This tactic is not helpful. You will end up too exhausted to retain information and will be worse off for it.
Focus on Success
Of course, the worst-case scenario when taking the bar exam is that you fail. It is extremely difficult for law school grads to push this thought aside, but it is also extremely important that they do. Instead, visualize yourself taking the exam and passing. Imagine yourself calmly answering the questions and envision your name on the pass list. These types of visualization techniques not only work, but they will help you remain calm and alleviate your stress while you are studying.
Acknowledge Your Stress
This one may sound obvious, as many law school graduates cannot stop thinking about how stressed they are when studying for the bar exam. Too many people though, think that if they only study for another hour, or another all-night cram session, it will lower their stress because they will be more prepared. It will not.
It is important to acknowledge the amount of stress you are feeling. This is the only way you can manage it. If you meditate or do yoga, these can be great stress relievers. If your method of managing stress is simply taking a bath or watching television for an hour or two, this can also be helpful. Reflect on the stress you felt during law school, which was likely plenty. Use the same tactics when facing the bar exam as you did when managing stress during the past few years and better your chance of success, while alleviating that stress.
Look Forward to Something Every Day
While studying for the bar, it is easy to become so engrossed in studying and preparing for it that you forget about everything else. This is not healthy at any time in your life, and it is no different when studying for the bar exam. It is crucial that every day, you have something to look forward to that has nothing to do with the bar exam.
You may look forward to something as simple as a glass of wine after a particularly brutal cram session, watching your favorite television show for an hour that night, or going on a date with your partner. Having something fun to do, even while you are in the middle of preparing for the bar, will help alleviate stress and re-energize you for the next study session.
Consider How Much You Already Know
When studying for the bar, it is easy to get hung up on that one concept you cannot quite understand, or the amount of things you still do not know as well as you understand other legal concepts. However, it is important to look back, as well, and consider how much you have already learned. You have the necessary knowledge to graduate law school because you have already done it. That alone gives you a great chance of passing the bar.
Also, do not focus on perfection. You do not need a perfect score on the bar exam to pass. In fact, in most states, only a D+ is required and even that is scored on a scale. Take a deep breath, remember that you have already learned a lot of the knowledge you are studying, and be realistic about your expectations for yourself.
Create a Schedule
One of the reasons people become so stressed when studying for the bar is because there is so much information, and seemingly not nearly enough time to review it all. Taking this all on at once is incredibly overwhelming. Break up your time, and the portions that you will study, into study blocks. Creating a schedule for the next few weeks and digesting so much information in a certain amount of time will seem much more manageable.
If you are feeling extremely stressed and do not know how to deal with it, or these tips are not enough to start making you feel better, get help. This help can come in the form of your family and friends, or even a professional therapist. Sometimes things are simply too much for people to handle on their own, and in some instances, that means unloading on someone. Remember that there are plenty of people that want to help you. All you have to do is reach out to them.
It may seem impossible to alleviate your stress when studying for the bar. Follow these simple tips and you may be surprised at just how manageable your stress becomes.