You did it. It’s finally here: bar exam week. And just think, this time next week, you’ll be enjoying some sweet, sweet study-free time! But until then, let’s get you in a good mindset to take on the test.
Before & In-Between Test Days
It will be tempting to cram in the last few hours of practice tests or study a concept between Tuesday and Wednesday: don’t, or at least do very little. Trust in the work that you’ve already put in. Use the moments leading up to the test days and the moments in between to take care of the basics: eat nutritious and balanced meals, drink water, cut back on caffeine, go for a nice walk, turn off the tech, meditate, or journal. And then do your best to get some rest.
Studies have shown that when people eat breakfast, they perform better on tests. Try to eat foods with slow-release energy like overnight oats or whole-grain toast. And include protein like eggs or yogurt to feel full longer. And if you’re looking for a brain boost, try incorporating fish—such as a whole wheat bagel with lox.
Do 10-Minutes of Exercise
A 2018 study showed that only 10-minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise might improve your cognitive performance by as much as 14% (without risking too much fatigue). If there’s a hotel gym, jump on a treadmill or do a cycle session before you leave. Or, if you’re at home, try a ten-minute aerobic YouTube video or a jog around the block!
Engage Your Brain
Don’t forget to do your ritual, visualization, and/or write down your worries (Remember? From last week?). Mediation may come in handy, too, especially if you feel your anxiety creep up mid-exam. Close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths to recenter.
Bring & Drink Water
A British study of 447 students found that those who brought water with them into the exam scored 5% higher than those that didn’t. The thinking was that water helps alleviate some anxiety during the test, which improves overall performance.
Initial research has shown that people perform better on exams when they are in their preferred temperature. Since you can’t control the thermostat of your testing room, bring layers to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible.
Accept the Stress
Remember: test anxiety is normal. Taking steps to reduce your anxiety, so it isn’t debilitating, is good, but a little bit of stress can work to your advantage (keeping you alert and focused).
A 2013 study found that those who saw exam stress as normal and helpful showed better test performance than those who were told to “ignore their stress.” So let yourself feel your feelings! But also use whatever calming techniques work best for you if you hit an anxiety-wall and need help to keep moving.
That’s it! We believe in you. You’ve got this. And it’s been a pleasure being your partner in prep!