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For third-year law students, it’s almost time to start studying for the Bar. When I began my own Bar Review studies, I remember feeling intensely overwhelmed. I had avoided any law school classes that taught me, for example, what the difference was between a corporation and a limited liability partnership. By the time April rolled around, I was already starting to freak out.

In fact, by October when I received the email saying I’d passed the Bar, that I was admitted, I forwarded it to my brother with the question, “Could they have made a mistake??”

Now, as anyone I work with will attest to, I tend to be a bit of a worrier. On the plus side, this makes me conscientious and detail-oriented. As our clients know, I’m likely to spend a lot of time talking to them and obsessing over the minutest details of their medical bills and treatment (or their problems with their kids or boss or whether they should go back to school). On the not-plus side, my tendency to worry causes me to assume the worst.

I have repressed most of my memories of studying for the Bar; however, I can offer some very simple dos and don’ts:

DO

Take a Bar Review Course – Yes, they’re overpriced, but in the end, they’re worth it. Unless you are truly self-sufficient, you’ll need the course’s concise outlines, the lecturers’ lame jokes clarifying complex legal principles, and the camaraderie of dozens of other freaked out students.

Get a Good Study Group – Shout out to Shandria Bell and Kimberly Bell (no relation) who were my Bar Review study buddies! They woke me up when I fell asleep in the law library, ate lunch with me as I repetitively stated that I probably wouldn’t pass, but that that was okay because it wasn’t the end of the world, right? Right?? Most importantly, Shandria guided me to the test-taking room the day of and lent me some pencils, which I had naturally forgotten, and Kimberly let us use her fancy top-floor hotel suite for between-exam studying.

DON’T

Take Caffeine Pills – That’s right. I ignored the most crucial cautionary tale of my youth (that of Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell). Caffeine was helpful when trying to concentrate on extremely boring material, but it caused me to worry even more about the piles of books I had to memorize in just a couple of months. I remember bursting in the door one evening after a long day at the law library and speaking at what I considered a normal speed and volume to one of my friends, and her face froze as she looked at me with true concern. “Are you on Adderall?” she asked. “No!” I said, “I’m just really excited about knowing our state’s inheritance laws!”

Worry – Worst case scenario, you have to re-take the exam. You’ll live, and it doesn’t mean you’re dumb. A hundred things can interfere with your studying sufficiently to take this beast of an exam, and you can retake it soon enough. Well, the true worst case scenario is that you OD on caffeine pills. Need I remind you?

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