The Bar

It’s been awhile since I wrote about The Bar. Honestly, after I found out I passed I thought I would never speak of those dark days ever again. That I would slowly, but surely, block the entire summer between graduation and The Bar out of my memory until it was like I went straight from graduation to lawyering.

Something happened this week that prompted me to revisit those terrible times. I’ve had a few people who are taking The Bar this year contact me because they needed to be talked off the ledge for advice on how to spend the last few days before the bar. Those calls and texts broke open my carefully concealed memories, but I only decided to blog about The Bar again when I saw what people have been googling to find my blog in the last week. Take a look:

yoga bar exam, care package bar exam,  day in the life of a law clerk, “extreme stress” “bar exam” “kill myself”

Yikes.

That last one is particularly concerning.

So, I’ve decided to offer some advice to those of you who may be taking The Bar in the next week or so. For those of you who aren’t taking the bar, go ahead and read this. You probably do or will at some time know someone whose liberal arts degree forced them into law school in hopes of not living a life of poverty who is taking the bar. I’m not saying my tips below are the best ever, but they are things that would have made me feel better.

Exam-Takers:

1. It’s okay to be crazy. The stress brought on by the bar exam is indescribable and does terrible things to you physically, psychologically, mentally, and emotionally.

2. Take a break. It doesn’t matter what you do, but don’t do it in your study cave. Get out and really take a break.You’ll feel taking a break will doom you to failure, but I promise taking a break will refresh you enough to make it through.

3. Study. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing. By way of comparison, the week before the bar is like the hour before a normal final. Cramming isn’t going to work; it’s only going to make you so stressed out that you’ll forget everything that you re-taught yourself over the summer. (Don’t worry. You actually did re-learn things this summer).

And that’s all for all you bar exam takers. Seriously. Take it easy and don’t beat yourself up too much.

Surprised there were only three tips? That’s because the bulk of the burden falls on the friends and family members of exam takers.

Friends/Family of Exam-takers:

1. Your friend/family member is going to be crazy. Accept it and don’t judge.

2. Back your bar-taker take a break. Take them out to the dinner or to a movie or to an actual bar. It doesn’t matter where, just make sure they take a break.

3. Do NOT, under any circumstances, EVER reassure your bar exam taker that they are going to pass. Depending on where they’re taking the exam, it might be that statistically they are more likely to pass than not to pass. BUT, do not say that to them. To the bar exam taker, the seemingly innocent “Oh, don’t worry. You’ll pass” just adds to the pressure. It lets them know that you think they’re smart and in the  stress twisted mind of the bar exam taker that means they will let you down horribly when they fail. So. Never ever try to soothe by reassurance.

4. Soothe your bar-exam taker by taking care of them. Studying for the bar is like having a job where you work 20 hours a day. Make sure they eat real meals and shower everyday. Take over chores they normally do.

5. Care packages. Great idea. In theory. In practice, a lot of care packages are full of things that require effort to use. If you’re giving a car package, make sure the recipient doesn’t have to do anything to use the contents. So. No gift cards. No un-popped popcorn. Nothing that needs refrigeration or freezing.

I’m not going to pretend that these are the best tips ever, but they are things that I wish someone had told me or things that I wish people had done for me. If you have any other tips, feel free to live them in the comments.

Also. I will now returned to my regularly scheduled memory erasing for that period of my life. So. We will never speak of The Bar again.

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