July 29, 2019

Bar Exam Morning Routine

Two posts in two days because it's go time, my friends!! I'll keep my intro short because I know if you have the Bar coming up, I know you don't have time to do frivolous reading.

Related: Bar exam evening routine 

4:30 am

Wake up, put on workout clothes, and go workout. I prefer Orange Theory but you really shouldn't make your very first class the morning of the Bar. I know this sounds like a waste of time and you should be doing a thousand other things last minute before the Bar, but hear me out. You're going to be stressed the morning of the Bar like you've never been. 

Working out the morning of the Bar didn't necessarily give me a "workout stress relief," but when you're trying not to fall on a treadmill during incline sprints, it tends to distract you for a few minutes. Working out is also the best way to wake yourself up and get ready for the Bar. You don't want to roll in to the Bar still half asleep, and you don't want to chug a whole lot of coffee once you find out the ridiculous procedures it takes to go to the bathroom (not to mention, bathroom breaks take time away from you answering questions). 

It also is scientifically proven to make you more focused for the next few hours, which is exactly what you need right now. And a lot of people get too nervous to eat breakfast and then halfway through the morning portion of the test get hungry and therefore distracted, so this will ensure that you have a healthy appetite and can stomach a breakfast big enough to last you through lunch. Lastly, you'll be starting the day knowing that you've already accomplished something. 

5:00 - 6:00 am

The actual workout. Now I'll admit that on the first morning of the Bar I was running on the treadmill, lost in my thoughts, thinking I am so crazy for being here right now, what was I thinking?? and stressing about having enough time to get back home, shower, get ready, and get to the Bar on time. 

But by Days 2 and 3, I felt confident in my choice to get this done in the morning. On the second day during lunch, one of my classmates was talking about how she went to Orange Theory after Day 1 (my law school was obsessed with this place) and how exhausted she felt trying to work out while her brain was like mush. If you're going to work out during the Bar, I definitely recommend before and not after.

6:30 - 7:30 am

I came home from OTF and did a quick rinse with my hair in shower cap. And then if we're honest, on Day 1 I stood there naked in my towel and had a full-blown panic attack. I felt stupid for even attempting the Bar and ridiculous for thinking that maybe I could pass. I cried for what felt like no reason at all and my heart felt like it was racing even though my Apple Watch said it was at a normal rate. I dry-heaved over the toilet for a good 10 minutes. I kept feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom really bad. I later found out that all of these are physical bodily responses to stress, which is totally not surprising the morning of the Bar. So again, I'm glad that I woke up almost 5 hours before the Bar so that I had time for this.

What got me out of this was a feel-good song. On Day 1 I swear I heard the Voice of God as Shania Twain saying "Man! I feel like a woman!" So obviously I cranked that song and started off crying as I sang along (like Emma Stone in Easy A) to dancing around my bathroom in a better mood. 

I did do my hair and makeup for the Bar. Not because I'm one of those girls who "has" to always look good. And not because I thought I needed to (like 90% of girls did not even attempt hair/makeup). But because I wanted to not feel like I was hiding from the Bar or scared of the Bar. I wanted to walk into the Bar with the full confidence that you do walking into a bar on a Saturday night in a new outfit. I wanted to look and feel good. 

7:30 - 7:50 am

I overthought about what to have for breakfast before the Bar. Again, I knew from experience that if I didn't eat something that by 10:30 my thoughts would be can't focus, must eat instead of on the test. I also was worried about having something that would run right through me and I'd have to waste precious test timing going to the bathroom. And during my Practice MBE I actually had too big of a breakfast and felt full and tired an hour into the test. 

I actually talked to my Bar prep professor about this (I think she's an over thinker too because she seemed to have thoughts on this) and she suggested bacon (yummy + protein), scrambled eggs (hi again, protein), and buttered toast (a lil carbs & fat). The classic combo made to keep you awake and satisfied without being too heavy in your stomach and bland enough that it wouldn't upset your already nervous stomach. I did this all 3 mornings and it worked just fine for me. 

If you don't have access to cook on the morning of the Bar and egg-white breakfast sandwich from Chick-fil-a or Starbucks also will fuel you up for this mental marathon without slowing you down. Whatever you do, just avoid high-sugar breakfasts like cereal or muffins or Pop-Tarts because that is a recipe for disaster and just asking for you to have a sugar crash mid-test. 

7:50 - 8:00 am

Last minute check to make sure you have your car keys, license, a shit-ton of pre-sharpened pencils, a big eraser, highlighters (if allowed that day) and laptop + charger + extension cord (if allowed that day).

8:00 - 8:30 am

Drive to the Bar (don't risk it, use Waze because God forbid you traffic makes you late), get there early to get parked, leave your phone/watch in your car, and find the room. I recommend a hype playlist on your way. Obviously on Day 1 I was really into Shania Twain, which I did again on Day 2, and then by Day 3 I was so over the Bar that Tik Tok by Kesha was my hype song.

As soon as you get there, go to the bathroom if you have spare time. Remember, bathroom breaks = less time available to answer questions. Get it all out and resist the urge to drink water. One of my friends did pop some little fruit dummies just to give them a little sugar boost before they went in. 

Double check your bag again. Make sure you have your license and ticket pencils good to go. Remember that once you enter the exam room you can't exit, so don't feel the need to get in there real quick. They have assigned seating so you'll be fine even if you're not one of the first people in there. Again, make sure you know how to quickly and efficiently get from the exam room to the bathroom just in case. Before you go in, try to find a familiar face of a classmate so you don't feel so alone/scared.

9:00 am

This is when our Bar officially "started." They closed the doors but there still was the standard reading of the rules, passing out of the ear plugs, passing out the booklets, etc. The most calming thing I found during this time was to say the Lord's Prayer just because we used to do that before cross country meets when I ran in Jr. High & High school so I didn't know what else to do when I was nervous. 

And then it starts... 


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