McGeorge Bar Prep

What You Need to Succeed on the CA Bar Exam

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Anxiety Buster: Jot Down Your Worries

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on July 21, 2016

Feeling anxious?  Welcome to the club!  Nervousness and a degree of anxiety around this time are very normal for bar applicants.  If you weren’t nervous at all, that might be something to be anxious about!  Try to use those butterflies in your stomach to your advantage:  Imagine your nervousness turning into energy, funneling down your arms to your keyboard or pen, keeping you awake and alert throughout the exam.

If your anxiety has a less desirable outcome, such as causing your mind to go blank when the proctor says, “Begin,” there might be something else you can do.  One reason this happens is because your working memory — the part of your brain that you use to retain information from the fact pattern and link it to the law so you can craft stellar analyses — finds itself preoccupied with worries: “What if I can’t remember the law?” “Oh no, I hate [subject x]!”  “What if I didn’t practice enough?”  And so forth.  Instead of allowing you to filter through the facts given in your essay, MBE, or PT question, your brain is wasting time and energy juggling all of those concerns, and it can’t be bothered to pay attention to what D did to P or V.  So how can you empty your working memory and allow it to help you perform better next week?

Trying writing down your worries.  Seriously!  Studies show that people perform better on tests when they take ten minutes to write down everything that concerns them — from the specific (“I’ll never remember all of the hearsay exceptions for when the witness is unavailable!”) to the big and general (“I’m not going to pass!”).  Write down everything.  It sounds dubious, but writing down your worries appears to free up your working memory, and high-stakes test takers who do it consistently score higher than those who do not.  (See the full study here.)

What have you got to lose?  Before you go inside the test center, jot down what troubles you about that day’s exam.  Open up your working memory to give you every opportunity to shine on the bar like we all KNOW you can!

One and done!!


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