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Every licensed attorney in this country is a self-proclaimed expert on the bar exam — and I am no exception. I challenge readers to find a lawyer who declines to offer you personal wisdom, advice, opinions, strategic thinking or, at the very least, terrifying war stories — apocryphal tales of bar exam takers who threw up into typewriters, suffered hysterical paralysis in their right arms, or were served with divorce papers while waiting for the test to begin. Without further apology, here is a collection of my favorite advice and anecdotes. This approach is not for everyone, but it may be just right for some of you. WHAT NOT TO DO DURING THE LAST FEW WEEKS � Don’t kick back. Everyone will advise you to take a break from studying during the last day or two before the exam, but I think that’s a waste of valuable time. You should be packing your short-term memory, your best tool for the bar exam. I came home from the second day of the California Bar Exam and immediately hit the materials on wills and trusts, since that area had not yet been tested. Sure enough, that is exactly what was covered the next morning and what I read was directly on point. � Don’t chill. Anxiety can be beneficial when it motivates you to work harder and better. People will tell you to try to relax, but I think that is useful advice only if anxiety interferes with performance on the exam. Forget the relaxation tapes and use the time to practice a few more multiple choice questions or to outline a couple of essay answers. Channel the nerves into productive energy and stay focused on the task at hand. � Don’t try to stay normal. Don’t attempt to keep your life on a regular schedule. Your sleeping, eating, and other personal habits are bound to go out of whack, so don’t fight it. You’ll be amazed at how rapidly you get back on track when the exam concludes. � Don’t hassle yourself about others. This is one time when you have to be selfish. When I took the California Bar Exam a dozen years ago, I sent my children away to camp, my spouse to his cousin’s house, and I exiled the dog to a friend’s ranch. It might have been easier to remove myself, but I knew I could work better at home. The dog forgave me within the calendar year and my children granted me amnesty a few years later. � Don’t be kind to yourself. If ever there was a time to ignore New Age mantras, this is it. You should try to push yourself and work to capacity. Forget the inner child; she is just another distraction right now. You will never again need to lock this much information into your brain, so don’t compromise your self-discipline. You will have plenty of opportunities to be good to yourself later. � Don’t panic. The bar exam is not real life. It is a formal licensing test and teaches you comparatively little about your personal aptitude for the profession. As an attorney, you would be committing malpractice if you relied on your memory of the law to the extent that it is necessary for the bar exam. You’re going to be a fine attorney and we look forward to welcoming you into the profession. Lois Schwartz is a full-time lecturer at U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and an adjunct professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

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