In law school, it’s a distant legend that seems about as real as Big Foot or Godzilla. But before the bar exam, it becomes all too real. All of a sudden, you are consumed with an overwhelming feeling of extreme irritation, anger, and sadness at once. As calm as you may be in one moment, the slightest annoyance can trigger a massive rage of uncontrollable emotion the next. What is this feeling, and why does it happen?
Bar exam aggression, more commonly known as bargression, is a common emotion felt by upcoming bar examinees everywhere that spend endlessly long hours preparing for the bar exam. It may be difficult for family, friends, and strangers to understand why you glare at them when their phone goes off or need so much time to yourself, but deep down you know that you’ve just answered one too many MBE questions or essays to stay calm, cool, and collected.
While nothing can be done to prolong the fast-approaching bar exam, there are ways of reducing bargression to ensure that studying not only becomes more manageable, but enjoyable. So take a deep breath, and read these encouraging quotes and study tips to take control of your bargression now!
- Respect Your Limits
It’s one thing to know your limits, but it’s another thing to respect them. Ultimately, this means paying attention to the things that frustrate you the most, then avoiding them throughout the day. For example, if you feel like throwing your bar prep books out the window every time someone interrupts you while studying, take the initiative to find a secluded study space where you know you won’t be bothered. Or, if you’re tempted to tear up your Torts outlines every time you look at them, study that subject in smaller sections throughout the day rather than all at once. Taking the extra time now to ensure that you minimize all potential disturbances will help you maximize your studies in the long run.
- Practice Patience
Patience is a virtue. And it’s even more of one while studying for the bar exam! Recognize that all things must first be difficult before they become easy. That means that expecting to achieve a 70% accuracy rate on your first practice MBE test is unrealistic, and attempting to memorize an entire subject in a day is an impossible task. Be patient with yourself in the learning process rather than criticizing yourself for what you do not know. Remember – consistent hard work and determination is the key to passing the bar exam!
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Bargression commonly arises during moments when “the little things” don’t seem to be going your way, such as when the tip of your pencil breaks or your weekend study break plans change. When you begin focusing on the bigger picture, however, you will undoubtedly realize that the small details of day-to-day activities don’t impact you as much as you may think. The next time something doesn’t go your way or you’re tempted to get upset, ask yourself, does this situation negatively affect my ability to reach my long-term goals? If the answer is no, it may just be time to stop overthinking, and start looking at the bigger picture of what really matters.
According to Harvard Medical School, deep breathing combats the negative effects of stress by eliciting the relaxation response. This is a fancy way of saying that deep breathing will help your bargression tremendously! Start by sitting or lying down in a secluded and quiet room, then set a timer on your watch or phone for 5 minutes. Continue by closing your eyes, taking a deep breath through your nose, and allowing your stomach to fill slowly with air. As soon as your abdomen fully expands, exhale through your mouth and repeat the process. Once all 5 minutes have passed, your body should feel more at ease and your mind more alert for studying.
- Vent, Vent, Vent!
Don’t keep your feelings to yourself! Doing so will only prolong your negative mood, if not make it worse. That’s why it is important that you find someone, preferably a friend or family member who is not studying for the bar exam, that you can talk to about your frustrations whenever they arise. Knowing that you have reliable support whenever you need it will not only prevent you from taking out your frustrations on others, but allow you to feel calmer moving forward. If you don’t particularly enjoy speaking to others about your feelings, other methods of venting include journaling, exercising, and laughing.