Mental Preparation Can Be the Difference Between Passing and Failing the Bar Exam

How to practice mental preparedness and why it will pay off on the bar exam

When you sit down for the first day of the bar exam, it shouldn’t feel foreign. You should feel prepared and confident. Maybe you have some normal jitters, but you should be able to truthfully tell yourself, “I got this.”

Getting to that headspace before the bar exam isn't just possible, it’s important. Your mindset will impact your performance. But getting there requires preparation.

At this stage of bar prep, you may be focused on reviewing outlines or drilling on practice questions. But you also need to practice mental preparedness.

Practically speaking, the best things you can do to work on being mentally prepared on the bar exam involve creating simulated bar exam experiences and practicing visualization. Here's how.

Simulated exams - the why and how

The first and most important thing you can do is taking simulated practice essays and MBE exams. Don’t just review some questions. Set aside a block of uninterrupted time to answer a few essays or 100 MBE questions the way you’ll be asked to on exam day.

Start small - maybe two timed essays or 20 timed MBE questions - but you should be expanding that effort. By exam day, you should have taken at minimum one full simulated bar exam day.

The key here is that when you sit down for day one of the bar exam, it should feel familiar, such that when you tell yourself “I got this,” it feels credible.

Visualizing

Practicing what you’ll be going through on the bar exam is one part of achieving mental preparedness. Another big aspect is visualization. You want to take five minutes at least every other day to sit calmly, quietly, and visualize yourself on the first day of the bar exam.

Take a deep breath. Visualize where you’ll be, what your chair feels like, what your screen looks like in front of you (if you’re taking the exam online). When you create a clear mental image, visualize yourself taking the exam and feeling calm and confident.

Be specific - think about reading an essay and outlining your answer. Visualize narrowing down answer choices on an MBE question. 

The more you’re able to visualize yourself taking the exam calmly and confidently, the more you’ll be able to create that feeling of calm and confidence when you actually sit down for the exam.

It may sound trite, but it’s important and it can make a huge difference in your bar exam performance.

 

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