Re-taking the Bar Exam? Work on your frame of mind


The first thing I worked on after failing the bar exam was my frame of mind.  There are ways to cope with and OWN this test.  Trust me.  I’ve done it successfully three times in three states after failing it the first time.  

I’m not going to lie.  Passing the bar three times was not easy.  But before studying hard again the second time, I first had to learn to conquer my fears, anxiety, and feelings of self-doubt.  In other words, I had to work on my frame of mind

Being mentally prepared for the bar exam is more important now than ever because you will be the first group to take the bar exam during a pandemic.  States are making adjustments because after all, the show must go on.  But how are test-takers mentally preparing for the changes?  Whether you are having a tough time dealing with this pandemic or whether you are taking it like a champ, I urge you to find methods now to calm your anxiety or reduce negative self-talk which is critical for success on the bar.  

I have two vivid memories of when I took the Florida bar exam: Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in full gear, stretchers and all, outside the exam room, and metal detectors at sign-in.  I wasn’t expecting either.  Twelve years later, memories continue to haunt me because they almost threw me off my game.  Panic reared its ugly head and I had to talk myself off the ledge.  I may be exaggerating a bit here about my anxiety level but I am driving a point home.  

What I learned from taking (and passing) the bar exam several times is that it tests, not only your knowledge of legal concepts, but also mental strength.  Don’t ignore this critical component of success on this exam– your frame of mind.  Some of you may think this is new-agey or secondary to studying but it isn’t.  Just like athletes before a game, you need to know there will be triggers that can take you out of your game, and have tools to quickly get you back on track.  

Which brings me to my main message: EMTs, metal detectors, you and hundreds of exam-takers wearing face masks, or having to take it online, will no doubt on some level have an effect on your mental state.  There are tools out there to help you mentally prepare so these factors don’t throw you off track.  Learn and implement your method of choice now so you can stay “in the zone” later.


Yohanna Romero Baca founded Bar Exam Coaching by Yohanna to help repeat bar exam takers improve their writing skills to pass the bar.  She hopes to give repeat bar exam takers the power of good writing, because in law and in life, it’s the power to change minds, to make a living, and sometimes to even save lives.  She’s a graduate of The George Washington University School of Law and has been a practicing immigration attorney for the last 14 years.