Passing the Bar Exam: How to Harness Your Mind to Succeed

Passing the Bar Exam requires a clear mind. Allowing fear, anxiety, and raging doubt over passing the bar exam can cripple you.

passing the bar exam, stress relief - magoosh

Please pause for a moment and really think about this.

There is so much on the line with this one test. It is a monster of an exam. Few people will ever face such a hurdle. Very few people know what it is like to cram THAT MUCH information into your brain, and be tested on it by examiners who design the test to trip you up.

We are a brother/sisterhood.

The blood, sweat and tears of the past seven or more years is all riding on this one event.
passing the bar exam, anxiety - magoosh

One thing is clear. If you are anxious, fretful, and stressed out, you will not perform your best. Our minds do not function well when constricted by fears. So getting a handle on them is critical to your success.

So what do you do? How do you get a grip on your emotions? How do you overcome the paralyzing thoughts in your mind enough to properly study for and pass the Bar Exam?

Two Ways to Get Your Mind to Work FOR You, Instead of Against You

There are two things that you can do on your own to help quell your fears.

Do an Exercise in Worst Case Scenario

What exactly is causing all of your fear, worry, and anxiety? In order to eliminate, or at least control the stressors of the Bar Exam, you should take time to really delve into your “worst nightmare.”

passing the bar exam, fear - magooshIn other words, take the time to sit down, relax, and allow your mind to dive into worst case scenarios. List all the things that you are afraid will happen if you fail.

After listing them, write out the details of the fears. Write both your thoughts, what you are afraid others will think, as well as the practical effects of a failure.

Are you afraid because your money is running out and you can’t get a good job if you fail? Write it out. Write out every detail. Are you fearful of your parents’ or spouse’s reaction if you fail? Put it on paper.

Get it all out. There it is. Your worst nightmares spelled out in black and white.

Now, after you have spilled your guts and lived to tell about it, start thinking up contingency plans. OK, you’re afraid that you will let your parents down. Now write out a way of handling that. What will you do? How will you tell them? What do you think they will say, and how will you respond?

Do that for every fear on your list. And when you’re done, let out a big sigh.

You have done it. You can now see past the exam and the results. passing the bar exam, stress relief - magoosh IF you fail, you have a way of handling everything that might happen in a way in which you know you can continue to function.

You won’t die. Nobody else will die. You will live through it.

This exercise can greatly decrease the tension in your psyche. As long as all these anxieties are floating around in your head, you are tense and less likely to study effectively.

So get rid of them! Know that no matter what happens, you’ve got it covered.

Use Positive Imagery, Visualization, and Affirmations to Use Your Mind to Your Advantage

Now that you have purged your fears, replace them with as much positive mental imagery as you can. You have created a void by spilling out your worst fears, so now you must replace that with the positive…or you risk the void being once again filled with your fears.

Start every day with at least 5 minutes of positive visualization and/or affirmations. It’s so easy to do, yet most of us don’t. Maybe you feel foolish doing it. Get over it. This is important. If you see the goal, you can achieve it.

You see athletes doing this all the time. They visualize their performance in a game which tends to bring the mental image to fruition.

So use this to your advantage as well. Here’s some ideas on how to best use this technique.

  • Start first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. You will be more relaxed during this time than in the middle of a study session.
  • Pick a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Sit comfortably, and start with deep breaths.
  • It would be ideal to have soft music, or meditation music playing while you do this. The music will assist you in relaxing.
  • Start talking to yourself, or use a guided meditation that leads you further into a relaxed state of mind. Tell yourself that you are relaxed and comfortable. Quiet your mind.
  • passing the bar exam, relax - magoosh

  • Now begin to mentally picture whatever it is you are focusing on that day. A couple of good visualizations are:
    • Studying effectively, efficiently, and enough to pass the exam
      • All while remaining calm, cool, and collected
    • Having a wonderful, peace-filled sleep the night before the exam
    • Walking into the test center, seeing the 100’s of students and desks
      • Replace the feeling of nerves and fear with a feeling of calm and energy. You walk in knowing you’ve got this.
    • Exit every section of testing self assured and calm
      • The norm is to leave each section feeling as if you failed. Practically everyone feels that way (even if it’s completely not true). But visualize rising above that. Visualize feeling refreshed, energized, and excited that you are about to be a lawyer!
    • Walking out after the entire exam is OVER! Feel the feeling of RELIEF wash over you. What will you do after the exam? Treat yourself and celebrate. Pass or fail, you’ve just climbed Everest. Take some time to soak it in.
    • Getting your results and you passed! What will you do? How will you feel?
    • Being sworn in as a lawyer
      • It’s a proud day! Wallow in the joy for a while! Let it feel GOOD!
    • Getting your Bar Certificate from the Supreme Court of your state
      • See yourself going to the mailbox. There’s this big envelope that is hard, like cardboard. You open it. You are a LAWYER!!!

Continue to breathe slowly and deliberately throughout your chosen meditation for the day. See the sights. Hear the sounds. They are real. See yourself succeeding, and you’ll be surprised how your mind will direct your body to accomplish what it has envisioned.

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