February 22, 2021

The Day Before the Bar Exam: Finish Your Journey Strong


Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Today, I wanted to share with you a quote from Herb Brooks, who was the head coach of the 1980 U.S Olympic Hockey team that defied the odds and won the gold medal. He said:

“Great moments are born from great opportunity.”

The day before the bar exam is one that can lead to a lot of anxiety and fear. Thoughts of what can go wrong, what law you may not know, fears of the test, worries about the future, and all kinds of other negative emotions can quickly take root in your mind, and quickly grow into a consuming beast that can overwhelm you in the final hours before you take this exam. I get it, the exam is stressful and can produce anxiety, but you have a choice in whether to let these negative emotions take root and grow out of control.

Instead, let me encourage you to look upon the exam as an opportunity for greatness. The bar exam is an opportunity for you to shine and see your dreams come true. It is an opportunity to put all of your studying and hard work on display, showcase your knowledge and the efforts you have put in over the last months, and for you to achieve success.

The bar exam is not something to fear. The bar exam is a great opportunity for you to experience a great moment that unlocks an array of future great moments. This is an opportunity for you to achieve, but if you think about it, there can be no real sense of true achievement without the accompanying fear of failure. You cannot stand on top of the mountain and enjoy the view without taking on the challenge of climbing the mountain to start with.

And that, future attorney, is what you have been doing these past few months. You have been climbing the mountain, building your knowledge, working on your multiple-choice testing skills, practicing your essays, and putting the time into your performance tests. You aren’t standing at the bottom, trying to peer through the clouds, and attempting to imagine where the apex of the mountain is somewhere high above. Instead, you are right on the cusp of standing at the top, triumphantly raising your arms and shouting, “I DID IT!”

The bar exam is a journey, involving a lot of studying and hard work, but you have put that time in and you endured the climb. Now that you are at the top, I encourage you not to worry about falling, even though that fear has lingered during your entire climb. Instead, now is the time to be confident because you have already come so far, and the end of your journey is within your reach. You just have to push a little more, and finish strong.

Breathe deeply today. Visualize your success. Do not let fear and anxiety overcome you when you are so close to your goal. Take your final steps on Tuesday and Wednesday, achieve your goal, and stand proudly at the top enjoying the view.

Embrace the challenge, do not fear it. You started your journey towards this moment years ago, and now is your time to complete it. 

Finish your journey strong. You deserve to enjoy the view and celebrate your success.