Preparation breeds confidence.
If you are worried about something on exam day, plan, plan, plan, then practice, practice, practice.
I recommend that students create plans of action for every type of question — called substantive plans. And then for every situation they are worried about — called situational plans.
Substantive plans are plans for how you will attack a particular type of question.
So what is the first question you will ask yourself when you see a criminal law question?
- Maybe it’s — what is the crime?
- Then the second question — who are the actors?
And so on. Create simple one-page plans like this for each subject.
Situational plans are a bit different.
I recommend you first create a plan for essays in general.
What do you want to remind yourself when you start writing an essay? What do you want to say to yourself, like your mantra? What is the first step to writing an essay? Second? You get the picture.
Then, think of all of the situations you are worried about.
If you are worried you will panic or blank, make a plan for that.
- Step one, take a deep breath.
- Step two, sink into my chair and relax.
- Step three, remind myself x,y, and z.
If you are worried you will run out of time, write a plan for that.
Then, and I can’t stress this enough, practice your plans!
If you are worried you will run out of time, create a situation where you run out of time on purpose and practice how you will handle it. Planning and practice will create the confidence you need to walk in and rock it on test day.
Test day is your chance to strut your stuff. Don’t hope that you will perform, know you will perform because you have learned to calm yourself down, slayed your self-doubt dragons, and created plans of action. Then, all you have to do is execute.
This is your opportunity — step up and take it!
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Lauren Fire is the founder of the Mind Over Bar Course, an innovative course that supplements bar study by teaching students how to tackle the mental challenges of the bar exam. The course teaches in-the-moment practices that students can use to combat stress, overwhelm, panic, and test anxiety. Lauren also offers private coaching to law students and bar exam takers.
Did you find this article helpful? Leave your feedback and questions in the comments and check out the rest of the series:
- The Law School Mental Game: Performing Under Pressure
- The Law School Mental Game: Slay Your Self-Doubt Dragons
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