Take Care of YOU While Preparing for the California Bar Exam
Taking and Passing the California Bar Exam Without Losing Your Mind – Literally
Preparing for the California Bar Exam is a grind. Taking the California Bar Exam is grueling. And passing the California Bar Exam is cause for celebration – as well as a huge sigh of relief! The entire process was not designed to enhance your mental health. Many people prepare for, take, and pass the bar in spite of the toll it takes on their physical and mental wellbeing. But, to maximize your chances of success on the bar exam, you need to factor taking care of yourself into the equation.
First, for all of your bar preparation needs, you have every resource you need available to you through Fleming’s Fundamentals of Law, from substantive outlines of all California bar tested subjects to endless practice essay and MBE questions to personalized individual tutoring sessions. If you haven’t already, you should explore all of Fleming’s bar exam offerings at Fleming's Fundamentals of Law. Fleming’s has what you need.
Second, you should set up a realistic schedule to both study the necessary material and practice, practice, practice without neglecting your personal wellbeing. Everything about the bar exam can be stressful. If you already suffer from test anxiety, taking the bar exam does not help. People respond differently to stress and anxiety: some power through, some shut down, and some manage it. You can learn how to manage it.
How, you ask?
Be realistic with yourself. You cannot “cram” for the bar exam. There are too many subjects, too many rules, and too many exceptions to the rules to try to memorize a few weeks before the exam. Pace yourself. (And, the bar exam is not about memorization anyway!).
Take Well-Earned Breaks
Go outside; take a walk, watch a ½ hour show on Netflix that makes you laugh. Do something nice for yourself that takes your mind off topics like negligence, the rule against perpetuities, or the Erie doctrine. You cannot sit for 12 hours straight daily and study for the California bar exam – you need to move, stretch, laugh, be human! Now, I am not suggesting that you blow off an entire day and go to the beach, but taking 10, 15, or even 30-minute breaks to decompress and change your focus will – ironically – actually help you to focus better when you return to your studies.
Provide Fuel to your Body and Mind
You must remember to eat and stay hydrated while studying for the bar exam! Food and water are quite literally your body and mind’s fuel. Stay away from sugary and fatty foods, and eat plenty of lean protein, vegetables, and fresh fruit. Your mind will stay sharper if it is not in a “food fog;” you do not want to crash after a heavy plate of pasta. Rather, you want to feel nourished and energized. And, drink plenty of water! Too much caffeine will dehydrate you, so yes, you can have your morning coffee, but then turn to water and lots of it. Your body and brain will thank you!
Do you ever find yourself holding your breath when you are studying? If so, stop. You are depriving your brain of the much-needed oxygen it needs to think! Holding your breath also makes your muscles tense and your body feel like it is in fight or flight mode. If you practice breathing in and out regularly, you let your body relax and your mind open. You can think more clearly because you are not oxygen deprived. Sometimes we hold our breath out of sheer habit. Pay attention to your own breathing; you will feel so much better when you do!
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself while you are studying for the California bar exam is not indulgent; it is necessary. It is just as necessary as studying the community property rules or practicing how to take the performance test. Without appropriate rest, mental breaks, proper nutrition, and enough oxygen, your body and mind will not be at their best to take and pass the bar exam. So, when you are making your bar exam checklist, put YOU on it as well!
Good luck on the Bar!