The bar is like a hazing ritual - ask any lawyer about it and he or she will offer sympathy, advice, and horror stories. The California Bar is a three day exam that consists of 6 hours of multiple choice, 6 hours of exam writing, and 6 hours of performance tests. General opinion in the legal community is that California is the toughest bar exam in the United States.
Everyone has been asking how I'm doing, so I wanted to let you all know that I'm doing great. Really! :)
I think it all boils down to cultivating a good mentality and knowing what works for me. Unlike most people, I actually looked forward to studying for the bar. Sure, I groaned like the rest, but I was ready for it. When is there any other time in my life that I'll be able to drop everything, study like a madwoman, and ignore all distractions?
Quite a few of my classmates have begun to succumb to nerves and freak outs. I can understand how they feel. I had my minor freak out moment in early June while I was watching the Pixar movie Up. The feeling lasted less than a minute but reminded me of how I felt, four years ago, when I took the LSAT. Taking the LSAT was one of the worst experiences of my life. As soon as the proctor placed the test on my desk, I succumbed to nerves and almost ran screaming out of the room. The only reason I stayed was because my friend happened to be taking the test in the same room and I was too proud to show her that I was scared shitless. I don't even remember answering the questions. It's a miracle that I got into University of San Diego.
Anyway, the LSAT incident taught me the power of perseverance and the importance of learning from past mistakes. I was too wound up from studying and from everyone else's advice. To prepare for the LSAT, I was eating fish every day (to boost my brain power), gulping down vitamins (to keep me from getting sick), exercising like a lunatic (to ward off stress), constantly listening to Yo Yo Ma (to calm myself down with classical music), and going to church (to pray, just in case). It was too much.
Anyway, I got home from watching Up and realized that if I wasn't careful, I'd experience an LSAT-type of freak out again. And here's the thing... I've gone through three years of law school. I've gone through much worse in life and I will endure much more in the future. I realized that my problem was that I had to accept that I couldn't control everything.
Ok, I admit it - I am a control freak. But now I accept that I can't control whether or not the guy sitting next to me will shake the desk when he fills in multiple choice bubbles. I can't control the amount of omega-3 fatty oils that my brain and heart will absorb. I can't control how sunny it will be on the day of the test.
Of course, don't get me wrong. I control what I can control. There's no substitute for putting in the hours and the effort. I haven't gone to the gym in a month. I had class on July 4th. I study 7 days a week because even taking a day off feels wrong. I do get frustrated from time to time. The library is a boring place. I haven't seen some friends in months. But I enjoy studying because there is something refreshing about tackling each subject systematically and seeing how they are all intertwined.
Sometimes when I'm in a good studying groove, I picture that I'm in a movie, having a Rocky moment. The camera is rolling behind my shoulder and there's upbeat music playing in the background and I'm pumping my arms up into the air because YES YES YES! I AM A CHAMPION! And I'm in control of my imagination.