You are perfectly normal if you think, “I cannot handle any more studying. Not another lecture or practice test. I need to sleep. I need a day off. I need my life back!” You will have your life back after the bar. For now, another day of this is precisely what you must do. And another, and another. You must remain motivated, batteries fully charged, util the last “time” is called on the last day of your exam.
How to maintain motivation? It’s not easy. But these ten steps help.
1) Exercise to burn off stress
Burn off the stress. Do something active every single day if you are able. Walking, yoga, biking, swimming, weight lifting, jogging, spinning, skating. Don’t skip a day. Think of time exercising as an investment in your success. And, if you want, study while on a treadmill or walk while playing a bar review lecture.
2) Pace yourself – one day at a time
Take breaks. Remember even during the bar, you get close to a 2 hour lunch break between the morning and afternoon sessions. So, feel free to take lunches now. Stop fully and relax. Eat something healthy. Drink water. Then get back into it. And, when you’ve put in a full day of studying, take off, relax, then get a good night’s sleep.
3) Reward Yourself –daily and weekly.
Do something kind to acknowledge each day’s work. And, give yourself a bigger treat to mark the end of each week of hard work.
4) Plan an after-bar something special
Schedule something as soon as possible after the exam, something you really look forward to. Just thinking about that and knowing that you have something planned will help alleviate some of the burnout today.
5) Shake up your study routine.
If you are tired of reading quietly, read aloud to yourself. One of my students found the way to keep motivated (and better retain the material) was to read aloud in a funny accent and record her voice reading rules. She played them back to herself while driving and laughed while learning.
Try charting, try flashcards, try re-typing sample answers. Explain the rules/theories you are most afraid will be tested on the bar exam to a non-lawyer person. (If you can explain something correctly to someone else, likely that means you have mastered it.)
Study in a different location one day. Variety can go a long way to helping stop burnout before it drags you down.
6) Get on bar standard time
Complete practice days where you are “on” during the times you will have to be on during your bar exam. This will help you train the endurance needed for success.
7) Be kind to yourself.
This IS one of the hardest times in your life, one of the steepest mountains you will climb. Once you pass, it’s a lifetime license. You never have to do it again.
Sing a favorite song. Music is a healthy, natural way to re-charge.
9) Check in with a classmate
If you study effectively with others, it might help to have some company. If not, at least reach out to classmates. There is no one who will understand what you are going through better. Even a quick phone call, text, or Zoom can help you feel that you are not alone. You are all in this together.
10) Eat chocolate! It won’t add brain cells, but it should put a smile on your face!