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Send Love To Stressed Out Bar Exam Candidates

The July Bar Exam is less than two weeks away.  For people who are taking BarBri to prepare, our lectures and classes are over.  We’re at the point where every day we’re given a topic and a simple instruction – “Memorize.”  It’s hard not to let the panic set in.

studying

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From what I can tell from my classmates on Facebook, we’re all exhausted, stressed, and reaching the point where we just don’t care about these materials anymore.  My day still starts before 6am so I can workout before hitting the books.  I am studying by 7:30am and I spend most of the day going through my flashcards, outlining essay questions, and going through multiple choice questions.  I end my day by spending an hour writing flashcards for other topics.  My goals are to work efficiently these next few weeks and not burn myself out.

These days anything that takes away from studying or my daily routine, like laundry or errands, is a burden.  I’ve recently become aware that studying for the bar has diminished my ability to do normal things.  When I drive somewhere, I have to triple check that I put my car in the proper gear before taking my foot off the brake so I don’t inadvertently crash into another car.

Studying for the bar has definitely made me more irritable.  Everyone is glad that I have limited contact with the public in general.  The stupidest things annoy me.  My friend says I have crankypants.  My family barely hears from me.  My posts of Facebook and rare phone calls prove that I’m alive.  I made a brief cameo at the 4th of July family gathering and left before the fireworks.  I took a rare study break last week to go to Food Truck Friday in downtown Phoenix.  I didn’t realize how tired I was until I saw my friend and gauged my level of energy against his.

This week I realized that what everyone studying for the bar probably needs is a word of encouragement.  We’re focused on studying and don’t have the time to see our family and friends, but it would be wonderful to hear from you.  Please leave a comment for everyone taking the bar exam this month.  It will do wonders for everyone’s spirits just to know that we’re loved and supported while we’re going through academic-professional hell.

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Poolside Studying

I live in Arizona.  It gets obnoxiously hot here.  Since this semester started, the coolest day was still in the high 90s.  It’s not uncommon for the high temperature for the day to be around 108 degrees.  In the past, I joked about laminating my flash cards and studying in my pool.  I decided to put that idea into action this week in regards to reading.

A few days ago, I was frustrated from being cooped up in my house all day, reading my casebooks.  The sun was starting to set, and it was beautiful outside.  It was too much for me to keep looking at my pool through the living room window.  I put on my swimsuit and grabbed a casebook, my highlighters, a bottle of water, and a towel, and headed outside.

I folded my towel into fourths and laid it at the edge of the pool.  I needed something soft underneath my elbows.  I put  my book in the middle of the towel and my water and highlighters on the side and got back to work.  I’m pretty short, so I had to stand on the bottom step leading into the pool or else I couldn’t see my whole book.  This system worked out remarkably well.  Without the distractions of my cell phone, computer, and household chores, I got through my reading faster than ever.  This system worked equally well at night with the help of the outdoor lighting.

Yesterday, I couldn’t focus in the house, so I headed out to the pool in the middle of the day.  It was about 103 degrees outside and the sun was glaring down on me.  It was so hot that my highlighters were almost too hot to hold.  Previously, I purposely kept my hands out of the water to avoid getting my book wet, but the sun was too hot to stay focused.  I periodically took a 2-minute break to fully submerge myself in the water and cool off.  It was so refreshing.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a big fan of swimming or pools but this is where I’ll be studying for the next few weeks.   My plan is to be back in the pool sometime in April and to use this as a primary study location until I take the Bar in July.

Maintaining Perspective in Law School

I’m taking six classes this semester.  In two classes, the professors like to assign 70-150 pages of reading per class.  I’m also working on two papers and doing research for a professor.  Needless to say, I’m pretty busy.  I feel like I’m constantly running between classes, work, and other commitments.   When I have “free time,” I’m struggling to get through my immense reading assignments and hoping that I’ll remember half the information.  I had to quickly accept that the majority of my weekends this semester would be taken up with reading.

By four o’clock this past Saturday afternoon, I was tired of reading cases.  There was no end in sight, and, if anything, I was becoming a little panicked by the amount of work I had left to do.  I decided if my Saturday night was going to be spent alone with my books, then I deserved to study with cake.

I don’t keep junk food in my house.  My rule is I can eat any junk food I want if I’m willing to leave the house and get it.  One of my guilty pleasures is the “single serving” of white sheet cake with frosting from Safeway.   I usually make myself walk or ride my bike to get my junk food, but the sky was turning dark with storm clouds and I didn’t want to get caught in the rain.  I also didn’t feel like I had the time to spare, so I opted to drive.

Tybee Island
Image by Rebecca_M. via Flickr

As I pulled out of my driveway, the reality of my life hit me like a ton of bricks.  I thought, “Wow, I can read.”  I spent  my drive to the store thinking about how many people in the world don’t know how to read, especially women.  I am surrounded by piles of books and more information than I know what to do with.  How many people don’t have the opportunity to go to school?  Who am I to bitch about all the opportunities I have, when the majority of people on the planet never have the chance to go to law school or even get close to it?  My life is awesome, even when it’s hard.

This experience doesn’t change the fact that I miss seeing my friends, getting a full night of sleep, or having enough time to shower every day.  It has, however, made the long lonely hours more bearable.

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