Meditation break at desk
Meditation break at desk

Lifestyle Tips for Bar Prep: Week Before the Bar 

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Look how far you’ve come. Take a big deep breath—you’re almost done. Now is not the time to panic. Quite the opposite. Here are some things to try so you can get or stay in the right headspace this final week.


Now Is NOT the Time to Cram

We repeat. Now is NOT the time to cram. Focus on the areas that you feel are weaker, but give yourself grace. You’ve studied so much for so long. You most likely know more than you think you do. Instead of worrying about what you can’t change, take care of yourself. Here are some reminders.

  • Get 7 or more hours of sleep
  • Go on a daily walk or do another low-impact exercise
  • Eat fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and a few treats
  • Meditate
  • Spend time with friends

Do all the basics that will set you up for feeling good on test day.


Visualize Yourself Confidently Taking the Test

Visualization is a tool elite athletes have been using for decades to improve their game-day performance, so why not give it a go? 

Find a space to sit for a few moments and picture yourself confidently taking the bar exam. See your hands holding your pencil or typing on your keyboard. Feel the ease with which you write your essays and answer questions. Engage your senses as much as possible.

Take a quiet moment every day to do this exercise (and more than once a day if you’re feeling anxious) as you get closer to the exam.


Write Down Your Worries

If visualization isn’t your thing, try writing down your worries. A 2011 report found that young adults did better when they wrote about their anxiety before an upcoming test. Worry competes with the working memory needed for test performance. The theory is that by putting those worries on the page, they get out of your head—leaving more space for your memory to do what you need it to do.


Reduce Stress With A Ritual

Your ritual can be what you make it—as long as you’re able to replicate it on test day. Maybe it’s as simple as lining up your materials the same way before every practice test (pencil on your right, water on your left). Maybe you repeat the five things you’re hoping to do as a lawyer one day. Perhaps it’s a moment where you close your eyes and imagine you’re at your favorite place in the whole world.

Whatever it is, it’s the consistency that matters. A 2016 study showed that rituals improve performance by reducing anxiety.


Take On Less

See this as permission to say “no” (if you need it). If there’s any week to do less, it’s this one. Overwork  (whether that means studying, taking care of household responsibilities, your job, chores, or something else) is one of the most significant contributors to a lack of energy and you’ll want to feel energized next week so you can do your best.


Put Certain Habits on Hold

It’s just one last week. What can you commit to? Take a moment to think about what, if anything, you can change with your habits that will get you to test day feeling as good as possible.

No screens after 7? Giving up social media until the bar is over (if you haven’t already)? [link to post 4] Stop consuming caffeine at least 6 hours before bed? Taking that extra walk after dinner instead of becoming one with the couch? Whatever it is, it should be about feeling your best: both physically and mentally.


Double Check Your Bar Plans

Hotel all set? What about travel? Do you have a ride to and from the airport? How about your dinner plans the nights before? And your breakfast plans the days of? What can you have in the exam room with you? Do you have all of the supplies you need?

We can’t remind you enough. Make sure all of your travel arrangements, documents, test-taking materials, and meals are all set. And maybe even plan out an early night the night before so you can make sure to wind down and get as much rest as possible.

The goal is to show up bar exam days with the only stress being the test.


Up next: We’re not leaving your side! Here’s how to take care of yourself the Week of the Bar.