Discuss: Comfort Attire for the Disheartened

Jan 31, 2017

There are three weeks left until the bar exam, and I am starting to crack from the pressure.  My essays are in excellent shape.  But my MBE (multiple choice) answers, disaster.  Last night, I took a set of practice questions and wound up in tears.

Flash cards, study aids, tutoring, I’ve tried it all.  How is it I can write an essay without trouble, but I can’t answer a multiple-choice question on the exact same topic?  It’s a mystery.  And then, I take a break to watch CNN, and end up feeling like the bar is less stressful than watching the news.

So this week, all I care about is comfort.  I want to sleep on cozy sheets.  Drink rich cups of Earl Grey latte, and eat nothing but soup and bread.  And the only things I want to wear are this Supersoft Marl Jersey Sweatshirt, shearling slippers, and leggings.  You know when I haven’t worn makeup in a week that we are at critical mass.  I just keep telling myself that everyone feels this way the month before the bar.

So what do you wear when you’re stressed out, sick, or just need a rest?  I’m always curious about how people dress down.



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  1. BabyShark says:

    Everybody DOES feel this way this close to the bar. Honestly, you kept it together much longer than I did. I had a rotation of about three oversized lululemon sweaters and the same two or three pairs of leggings I just kept repeating for my last half of bar prep. The places I was studying were super cold, even though it was summer, and putting the hoods up on my sweaters and putting my head down gave me a hiding place when I just needed a few minutes. Whenever I was studying at home I was definitely bra-less and always wrapped up in my favorite blanket.

    • Sarah says:

      I totally agree. I think if you’re losing it, then the bar exam is having it’s intended effect on you. Don’t worry–everyone feels that way. You’ll be fine! For the entire week before the exam I couldn’t sleep and my brain was complete mush and literally unable to accept any new information. But I passed the first time around and so will you 🙂

  2. Nonymouse says:

    I love (love!) my snuggly open cardigan from Target paired with a floppy tee and leggings or joggers.


    • MK says:

      I was just coming here to recommend another cozy cardigan from target: https://www.target.com/p/-/A-50670373
      The shawl neck just makes me feel cuddled all day, it’s super soft, and it looks pretty good over a sheath dress, so I can pass for dressed up in it.

    • V says:

      Belle – I have full faith in your ability to rock the Bar Exam. But I just want to note, as I do to all people I know about to take the Bar, sometimes it takes a second try. I know several very bright and skilled lawyers who didn’t pass the first time. The exam just didn’t click for them the for the first time. They still went on to have excellent careers.

  3. Colleen says:

    Belle – I had a bar study outfit – basically crop leggings, some comfy flats and a this really hoodie tunic shirt. Not glamorous or flattering but it was my go to almost every day. Also, don’t stress about the MBE. I never passed a single practice test and did just fine on the bar exam. (Took a 2nd bar exam 9 years later with the same scenario – bombed all practice tests and did just fine on the real thing.)

    Good luck!

  4. Erika says:

    Cannot say enough for Cashmere Bed Socks from The White Company (https://us.thewhitecompany.com/Cashmere-Bed-Socks/p/CSCBS?swatch=Ivory) or LLBean’s Wicked Good Slippers (https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/23777?feat=slippers-SR0&page=women-s-wicked-good-slippers). Love me a sweater or sweatshirt with a hood! Tomato soup & grill cheese cut into slivers for dipping. Constant Comment tea. And a handmade crocheted throw blanket, preferably from a family friend but alternatively from Etsy. Good luck out there! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

  5. A.B. says:

    That is definitely how everyone feels a month before the bar. I wore a lot of old, washed a million times t-shirts during that time because they were soft and comforting. Embarrassing, yes, but at that point, I didn’t care. Also, though I’m sure you’ve heard and/or tried this, the one thing that worked for me for the MBE was repetition. The more questions you see, the better you are at attacking them. Even if it was just a few questions each day, it made a world of difference for me. Good luck!!

  6. LadyLawyer12 says:

    Keep going, Belle! July 2012 was absolutely terrible (I cried in the shower to save time. Seriously.) I also bombed MBEs up until about a week before. You can do it. Just don’t stop.

    That said, I go for fleece lined leggings and oversized tshirts when I’m stressed. Especially tshirts of things that were fun in my life or amusing in some way. And as much sleep as possible!

  7. Rebecca says:

    Last year I spent months studying for an hr certificate exam. The prep exams seriously were the worst and I was always borderline passing. The actual exam felt much easier and I more than passed it.. Also, I would recommend just reading tips on answering multiple choice questions. It sounds like you know the content but the answers are tripping you up. For relaxation I have a few light and easy comfort read type books. I also like to paint my nails while listening to a podcast, especially the one Gretchen Rubin does about happiness. Good luck!

  8. M says:

    Black leggings, black top, thick socks, and add boots, cardigan and, scarf if I leave the house.

    The black makes me feel pulled together and I feel like I stand out less as another sad athleisure acolyte.

  9. Laura says:

    I’m joining you from the trenches of bar prep. Can confirm, I’ve worn only leggings, half-zip fleece pullovers, and fuzzy socks at home for the past week and have eaten only Trader Joe’s prosciutto flatbread, orange chicken, cereal, and b&w cookies for about as long.

    I’m taking the attorney’s exam for a new job in another state so my MBE days are behind me, and while they’re the worst, you WILL get the hang of it by just doing tons of practice. Flash cards and as many practice questions as I could get my hands on saved me! If you’re killing it on the essays, I have no doubt you’ll be able to overcome a multitude of sins on the MBE! I know I must have.

    In short, yes, everyone does feel this way a month before the bar!

    • Belle says:

      My boyfriend keeps looking at me like “Still, no makeup? Leggings again?” and I want to throw sh** at him. Heavy, sharp sh**. I either need him to move out for the next three weeks or our relationship may not make it.

      • Laura says:

        Ugh, let he who is not in bar study mode cast the first stone! My hubby and I are actually studying together, so I’m lucky that he knows exactly what I’m going through. Just don’t make any big life/relationship decisions during bar study. During 2L fall finals, my then-boyfriend now-husband and I broke up; we would have saved ourselves so much drama and stress if we’d been resolute in not making rash decisions while under that level of pressure. We got back together within three months . . .

        • Courtney says:

          As the wife of a second time bar taker being apart is a real solution. The first time through was almost the ruination of our marriage. He moved out for the last six weeks and we both agree it helped (having a toddler at home did/does not make it possible for me to leave). This time he has a study office a few miles away where he can be alone, not questioned, and do what he needs to. He’ll also move away the last two weeks of study. All this is to say, relationships are not a priority during bar prep. I’ve had to learn to ignore the urge to involve myself, or to take the bait and fight when he’s beyond stressed. It may not work for everyone, but as the person on the other side I can say it’s our job to get out of the way and remember that the bar taker is so overwhelmed with study that they can’t be overwhelmed with life too.

          And for the record, my husband has been in a rotation of Lululemon joggers, lightweight long sleeve tees, super soft J Crew Factory hoodies and camp socks. The Bar knows no gender in disheartened fashion.

          Push through, focus on your MBEs, repeat and good luck.

      • Milena says:

        You should definitely have him watch “A lawyer walks into a bar.” It’s a 2007 documentary that follows 4-5 people who are taking the California Bar (one for the 40th time!). I watched it with my then boyfriend while I was studying for the bar and while I was not at all shocked or surprised by what was in the film, it definitely opened his eyes to what the process was like and what a big deal it was. I definitely credit it with us surviving the summer relatively unscathed. 🙂

        I also liked to think of all the really, really dumb attorneys I knew who passed the bar. If them, why not me? Just keep to barbri and you’ll be fine.

        Good luck!

  10. Laura says:

    Wool socks make any outfit comfy and better. I usually end up in leggings and tshirts with an open caridgan. Totally second the earl grey latte. Also a huge fan of HeadSpace meditation app to re-center 🙂

  11. CeeCee says:

    Oh girl, you’re supposed to cry after the MBE, didn’t you know??? I assume you’re using Barbri, but I would recommend also using BarMax- it’s a $100 app (or was back in 2014) and it was REAL questions, that actually made sense, rather than the Barbri questions that, to me, were just oddly written.

    I fell into a depression during the bar exam, and eventually wound up studying with some friends- when I had NEVER been a group study-er. I swear this saved me. Reach out to others, even if they aren’t friends- they may also be looking for a life raft.

    Good luck!

    • Lucy says:

      Oh my gosh – I have NEVER been able to pass multiple choice tests. I got a C+ in Torts – A and A- on the essays and 9 out of 11 MCs WRONG. So when it came to the bar – I shelled out for PMBR. I swear to you, it changed my life. Do it online – get the 7-day course & the book. Doo as many as you can (50? 100?) per day and READ THE ANSWERS WHY. There are SO many secret rules in there! DO IT. You won’t regret it & you will be GREAT!

  12. Lindsey says:

    Just want to chime in on the bar front. You sound like someone who is going to pass. It’s normal to feel this way right before – if you felt good that would be a bad sign. Hang in there, you are almost done!

  13. Lauren says:

    You’ve got this Belle! And yes, everyone feels this way before the bar. Keep practicing those MBE questions- you’re in the homestretch and it will come together. Do whatever you need to do to keep it up. Sweatpants? A news ban? Cardio? Takeout? Do it. You’ve got this. We’re all pulling for you.

  14. Erica says:

    Think of this as a great skin break- I’d love an excuse to not wear make up for a few weeks. (As a 2L, I’ll get one next year ha) … Ideas: Do face masks as study breaks; take bubble baths (I love Epson Salt, my dad thinks it’s a cure all) https://www.amazon.com/Teals-Foaming-Soothe-Lavender-Ounces/dp/B0080D1Q52; and I’d just stick with your direction. soft tees, leggings, cozy sweaters. I have the all saints one you linked and love it, especially come finals days. Also, light good candles around the house and keep flowers. Keep positive things around you!

  15. AAR says:

    Belle, I consistently had the same experience during my Bar Prep. The MBE are purposefully beyond ambiguous. However, your score will be a combination of strong essays and the weaker MBE. You’ll pass! Comfy clothes varied for me: it was the summer, so I was in Norts and a t-shirt with additional sweatpants to put on if the AC was cranking overtime. The realest comfort however was snacking: studying = crunchy food.

  16. Katrina says:

    Overachievers tend to catastrophize and then hit it out of the park 🙂 My coping mechanisms for big exams included Chai and excessive cleaning/organizing. You got this!

  17. Maddy says:

    For what it’s worth, I was not stressed out about the bar exam at all and still ended up a sobbing mess after taking a practice MBE at one point during the studying process. Crying is pretty much a right of passage. Good luck with the final stretch!

  18. K says:

    That is what the MBE’s do.

    I suggest downloading the BarBri app for your phone and just do MBE questions everywhere. In line at the grocery story? Questions. Don’t quite want to get out of bed but looking at your phone? Questions.

    Also, take an actual old bar exam MBE section because BarBri questions aren’t quite the same.

    You’ll be fine. 3 weeks is still a ton of time and the panic attacks are normal. Agreed with Maddy, crying is a right of passage.

  19. D says:

    I wear leggings and the most amazing cashmere long cardigan I got years ago at TJ Maxx and fluffy socks.

    And if you’re doing well on essays, you’re really doing well! Barbri MBE questions are difficult to work with because they aren’t real questions. Adaptibar is AMAZING because they’re real questions and their software learns what you’re bad at and keeps hitting you with those. If you can spare the money, ditching Barbri questions and switching to Adaptibar will be a worthwhile investment.

    To anyone reading this who’s studying for the bar: real life confession: I failed the bar the first time I took it. I was going through a divorce and had just moved to a new state and oh my gosh NO. Thankfully, I was working in a policy job and not practicing law, but I’m here to say that even if the worst happens, it.is.not. the end of the world. You will recover. You’re talented and smart and this is just a test – not a statement on worth or intelligence. <3

  20. Maria says:

    You can do it! I was never a fan of pants/leggings at home. I prefer a night gown or a simple athleisure dress. Uniqlo is my go to. I also really like Hanro for their loungewear and Schiesser Revival (must be the revival line!) for pajama sets.

    • Allison says:

      Totally agree. I don’t like feeling like my legs are being strangled. Nightgown and robe, until it’s too late in the day to be acceptable and then I’m in joggers, they are less restricting.

  21. Lo says:

    If it makes you feel any better, two friends of mine took the bar this summer and were both hot messes about it right up until the test. And both passed. So you’ve got this. As for comfy clothes (if we’re being really real), it’s my sorority lounge pants from college (which have stayed with me in both, um, thick and thin times) and a super soft long-sleeve shirt from my old company (I swear it’s made of angel’s hair).

  22. Rachel Kravitz says:

    biggest tip i got when studying for the LSAT and used on the bar as well, read the question slowly. It actually saves time because you stop re-reading and get a better understanding of the question.

  23. Andrea says:

    From someone who was in the same place on bar prep over five years ago (solid on essays, really shaky on multiple choice), two points of encouragement: (1) almost no one gets a good score on Barbri MBE questions. Everyone I knew was routinely getting low scores on them and still passed. Try to shoot for getting 60% — anything better on the multiple choice is gravy. (2) I’ve heard from multiple sources that on the actual bar exam, they frequently end up giving credit for TWO answers, not one, on many of the multiple choice questions – there’s the “best” answer and then another answer that is a reasonable answer that tons of people select and the bar examiners inevitably break down and give credit for that one too. We’re lawyers, we’re trained to argue both sides of everything. So aim to narrow it down to the most reasonable two answers and then don’t sweat it (to the extent you can).

    • Liz says:

      Totally agree on the Barbri MBE, plus they’re scaled to get more difficult as you go along in your practices until the last week, so if your scores don’t go up that’s one contributing factor!

      As for exam answers, that is true, but it only applies to two or three questions max that have one other answer that was the overwhelmingly selected answer even if it was wrong.

      Good luck!

  24. Nicole says:

    I pretty much lived in leggings during bar prep, and make up was never even an option! I also really struggled with the MBE and taking the practice tests only made it worse. What helped me was just studying the actual outlines over and over so that when I finally got to the real thing, I knew my elements/requirements/how to apply the law. It was more effective than stressing out after each practice test (and I passed the first time I took the real test). Good luck to you! You can do this – keep telling yourself that everyday.

  25. Whitney says:

    I very vividly remember bombing a practice MBE 1 day before the bar, on a day when the AC was out at Starbucks and our apartment. I looked up from grading and had to fight the sudden urge to just vomit all over the table. Luckily, my now husband, who was also studying for the bar, looked at me and new instantly – time for a break! Hang in there, I passed the bar and my MBE was high enough to be admitted into a 2nd state. Just hang in there, it will be over soon. In the meantime, comfy socks in the winter always make me feel better. GOOD LUCK!

  26. Heather says:

    Don’t sweat the practice test too much. I scored so poorly on the practice MBE that I almost didn’t show up to take the exam. I was shocked when I passed!

  27. Danielle says:

    Hang tough on the bar exam studying! The MBE is terrible but I found the practice tests to be harder. I think the BarBri people are trying to instill fear to induce more studying. I also had to force myself to remember that its all about passing — getting anything higher than a C- is a waste of effort. You know more than you think you do!

    I was studying for the July exam, so my outfits consisted of comfy summer clothes with layers for the library’s wonderful AC.

    You can do it!!!

  28. Emily says:

    Hang in there! Studying for the Bar exam is stressful. I experienced the most intense anxiety of my life the last few weeks before the exam (and I’m not somebody who is otherwise prone to test taking anxiety). I treated myself to some massages during the final few weeks and highly recommend that. My massage therapist at the time also recommended 1.) remembering to stay hydrated (water, coconut water, etc.) because if you are even slightly dehydrated it’ll impact your normal mental acuity and 2.) Bach Flower Rescue Remedy – they make drops, lozenges, etc. and those things are magic – instant calm.

    I feel your pain about MBE questions – they are the worst and lawyer brains are not designed for those. Lawyer brains are designed for essays with analysis and supporting our position. As far as MBE prep is concerned – just keep doing practice questions. The more you do, the more likely you’ll see questions that are really similar to those that you practiced which makes divining the right answer much easier. You’ll be fine.

  29. Allison says:

    Go for a walk. Leave the flashcards behind, put in the headphones and pump up the volume on a podcast that is NOT about politics and just walk.
    (Also, this was me taking the MBE: I’d read the question and feel confident. Then I’d look at the answer choices and try to narrow it down. Then I’d panic that none of the answer choices seemed correct. Then I’d go, “F*ck if I know. haven’t picked “c” in a while – I’ll go with that one.” And so on for the entire test. The MPRE really messes with your mind. You will be just fine.)

  30. JL says:

    “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present” -Lao Tzu. Wear something that will remind you to be in the present. I’d put my hair in a high ponytail, wear a pretty watch and sink into soft merino wool/cashmere sweaters.

  31. E. S. says:

    You’re not alone; nobody I knew felt confident going into the MBE! (And very few of us felt confident coming out of it, either, so be prepared for that.) The last few weeks of bar prep are brutal, but this too shall pass.
    For comfy clothes, for studying or otherwise, knit and jersey are my go-to’s. Zella’s live-in leggings and an old college t-shirt, and if it’s cold, Hanna Anderssson’s merino robe (incredibly warm for being so lightweight.)

  32. CM says:

    I always try to channel my inner “blogger-trying-to-look-like-they’re-not-trying”. I’m usually athletic on bottom (Old Navy athletic leggings or my fave adidas mesh sweats) and casual on top (a “fancy” sweatshirt like the ones at JCrew or a chambray button down – sometimes an LLBean sweater if I’m especially chilly). Fleece-lined slippers or wooly slipper socks add the final touch! Personally I like going bare on makeup – my skin feels so much clearer. The occasional face mask or eye patches provide a quick 20 minute pick-me-up too

  33. Anh says:

    Are you taking the CA Bar? I did BarBri and noticed that the MBE questions were just re-worded funny. It looked like someone just used synonyms of the correct answer, so it doesn’t look technically correct. It’s straightforward on the bar exam, so don’t stress out as long as you know the rules they’re testing. (I passed on my first try.)

  34. Sarah says:

    Belle, it may have helped me to read this 11 year ago. I was just like you. I was in great shape for the essays, but was the WORST of my friends at MBE. I’m not even sure I ever passed a practice MBE in bar prep, and I was a decent student in law school!!! Interestingly enough, I got the major premise of a whole essay wrong, and still passed the bar first time and have been a practicing lawyer the whole time. I know you can do this. In the weeks before the test, I cut myself with scissors and fell down the stairs….twice. YOU WILL SUCCEED! There’s no reason to think you won’t.

    • Sarah says:

      I also had the luxury of going home a week or two before the exam and letting my Mother take care of me. You probably don’t have that option, but I’d be generous with yourself about things like, ordering pizza. And schedule something fun for after, like a massage or a trip!

  35. Karen says:

    I could not handle it during bar study when someone told me “don’t worry, you’ll be fine!” so I will instead say, you are not alone. BarBri is an evil torture device designed to make you as stressed out as humanly possible… that stupid countdown clock and progress tracker????? The best thing I did for my sanity was take a full Saturday off the weekend before the exam I went out with friends, played golf, had a couple drinks… it didn’t cure the stress, but feeling like a normal person for one day was really good medicine.

    As for comfort clothing, either Lululemon’s align leggings (they feel like nothing!) or a pair of sweatpants I got there a couple years ago with fleece socks and some sort of t-shirt.


  36. Cheryl says:

    Soft, loose but not baggy, sweat pants, tshirt and a warm sweater, and wool socks, all in cotton for the summers, in as pretty a set of colors as I can find,. Good coffee and tea. Decent nutritious food. Make it a point to shower/bathe every day, put on a nice scent you really like–not explosively sexy, but a scent that makes you feel good when you catch a whiff of it during the day.
    My mother always advised that when feeling down or stressed, “wash your hair and put on some lipstick” and it is amazing how much better and energized I feel with being clean, smelling nice, and once or twice during that week, putting on some makeup, just for me.
    After a day of study, reward yourself in the evenings with a Netflix binge, time with friends, in a word, relax. Tomorrow is another day.

  37. Edna Mazur says:

    Yup- totally normal, the MBE is so weird. I actually did OK on the practice ones, walked out of the actual test thinking I didn’t get even a single one right, and scored pretty high. Keep plugging along, you’ll get there. If you walk out of the test feeling like you did well, that’s when there’s a problem…

  38. Jenna says:

    Bar prep was a seriously miserable experience. I was in tears as well. Just keep swimming and trying to do your best. I know that sounds cliche but you’ll be amazed at the things you know when it comes time for the pressure of the exam. I remember thinking, “woah, I didn’t even know I knew that, or that, or that!” All those little nuggets you are cramming in there with each question will pop back up when you need them most!

    Now that you are a few weeks out direct you focus where you can see the most return. There’s no reason to spend anytime learning “RAP” when it MIGHT be one question on the whole exam, whereas you are guarantied to get X number of questions on something like “homicide” that can be quickly mastered if you aren’t doing well.

    Eat well and drink water. You’re burning more energy than you realize.

    As for comfort, I took the July bar and locked myself away from society during the month of July. I don’t think I wore anything but a sports bra and t-shirts for the entire month of July. Spotted straightening my hair as well just to see if it would be more healthy after a few weeks away from heat. And I was one that ALWAYS showered, makeup, jeans and nice top, etc. during law school exams because it made me feel better and certainly did pull it together for the actual bar exam).

    • Jenna says:

      One more analogy that stuck with me. It’s like packing for a big vacation when you don’t know where you’re going. You can’t take everything with you, nor can you fit everything into your brain that might be tested. Just make sure you’ve got the basics covered and are prepared for the scenarios you are statistically more likely to be tested on.

  39. care says:

    I’ve been reading this blog since you’ve first started– so proud of how far you’ve come!

    YOU GOT THIS! Everyone feels the way you’re feeling before the bar– trust me. We’re a subset of people used to getting straight A’s and knowing we’ve answered every test question correctly. An exam where 60% correct is passing is highly uncomfortable for us. My best advice is try hard not to let yourself spin when you are in the exam– do you best to answer the question at hand and then move on to the next. Don’t carry the uncertainty with you on to the next question.

    Also, the day before the exam do your best to call it on studying around noon. Schedule a massage, go window shopping– do whatever you need to do to get your head right. Give yourself no more than 45 minutes to review some flashcards in the evening and then take a bubble bath. Get to bed early. Trust yourself, trust the process. It’s the final sprint, don’t let self-doubt in at the last moment. Good luck!

    • Belle says:

      Sadly, I have a flight to Seattle because they only offer the bar in one city (is WA the only state that does this?). Not exactly relaxing.

      • Michelle Seger says:

        lots of states only offer is in one city. In MD, it’s in Baltimore, in VA it’s somewhere that seemed like it was out in the country, in NY it’s in Buffalo or Albany (can’t remember)…etc.

      • Liz says:

        Florida is the same way, I had to drive four hours to Tampa. If you can try to get there a couple days early and have some time to yourself at the hotel. I went down the Sunday before, spent all day Monday studying then booked myself a massage the day before (I figured if I didn’t know it by then I never would). I only lightly reviewed my attack outlines the night before the MBE and the state portions for a couple hours each – IMO any more and you start to psych yourself out over some detail you forgot.

        • Belle says:

          Maybe I should go over sooner. I would have to change my ticket. I’ll consider it. Thanks.

          • Kelsey says:

            I would also suggest getting there a day early. I was scheduled to fly out on Sunday afternoon and my flight was cancelled. Cue me having a meltdown in DFW. Luckily, the ticket agent took pity on me and I still made it there on Sunday night. If this had been the day before the bar, I would have been such a mess. Give yourself the day before the bar to not do anything stressful!

          • cbackson says:

            Is the exam still in Bellevue? You will want to stay in a hotel as close to the exam site as possible – walking distance if you can. You do not want to be trying to get over the bridge to Bellevue in traffic the mornings of the bar.

            (I took the WA bar when it was all Washington law and all essay, which was its own kind of horrorshow – the word limits were so tight that you could barely use coherent English-language sentences.)

          • Court ey says:

            Consider staying the night of the last exam dayinstead of rushing home. You won’t need to worry about arranging a late check out or getting your bags to the desk before trying to make it to the exam in the morning. Or travel after such an excruciating effort! Eliminate as many stress points as possible.

  40. Liz says:

    I passed the bar exam 11 years ago and am now a partner at my firm, and I STILL wonder from time to time if “they” are going to knock on my door one day and tell me it was all a mistake and I actually flunked the bar. I moved cross-country 2 weeks before the exam and took it in a different jurisdiction than I went to law school. It was vile and agonizing. But I passed and so will you. My only style advice: don’t bother with mascara because if you’re anything like me, you are bursting into tears at least once a day. Very, very best of luck!

  41. KJ says:

    I lived in my Barefoot Dreams cardigans when I studied for the bar. Yes, plural cardigans. Add some lulu crops, a tank top, plus Ugg slippers, and that was my uniform. Sometimes I put on mascara to feel alive.
    My best tip is to not look at MBE questions for about 5 days before the bar. Have your strategy down, but give yourself a break and don’t beat yourself up about the MBE s too soon to the exam. A friend of mine took full practice MBE a couple of days before the bar exam and had a meltdown over her practice score. She passed, but psychologically it was tough for her. I did all 7 extra Barbri MBE sets in the final two weeks and that was a reasonable number of questions to get in the groove for and grade, but not too many to be completely discouraged if I wasn’t doing well. I definitely saw a surge in my consistency in the last few weeks. Best of luck!

  42. Morgan says:

    Leggings and long sweaters for me too, and the sweater Uggs.

    The MBE were SUCH a struggle for me too. When I graded my practice sets, I would write out the rule from the explanation for any that I had gotten wrong. However, I too had a mental break down (and broke out in hives) about 3 weeks/a month from the Exam. But then, a WEIRD sense of calm rushed over me. Our bar coach STRONGLY advised us not to do any practice sets the last 4-5 days before the exam because if you have a bad set (which you easily can), it will shake your confidence. I think that was great advice. Best of luck!

  43. Erica says:

    When I’m feeling particularly stressed/tired/rundown, I always find that a good cry and a call home does wonders. 🙂 Clothing-wise, I tend to either go for a pair of gym shorts and a soft cotton long-sleeve shirt, or a pair of comfy leggings with a soft cotton short-sleeve tee. A thick hoodie sweatshirt is a must (or a thicker LL Bean fisherman sweater if it’s really chilly). Definitely no bra. Glasses, no contacts. Usually a box of dry cereal for nervous snacking nearby.

    You got this! Good luck!!

  44. Jenn S. says:

    If I’m looking to feel comfortable and cozy? Nike men’s fleece sweats all.damn.day. Is it the most chic choice? No, but god are they comfortable. They recently discontinued my favorites, which had cargo pockets, in favor of closer-cut ones, but whatever. I have several pairs. A nice soft tee (bonus points if its fun) plus a cardigan or nice hoodie, and some slipper moccasins (my favorites are the Chaia moccasins from Target) – done with clothing.

    Hair gets braided so it’s out of my face but not pulled taut causing stress on my head. No makeup, just lip balm as needed. Didn’t go to law school or study for something as rigorous as the bar, but it sounds like you’ve got solid, empathetic advice here from those who have.

  45. Catherine says:

    This is all going to make me sound crazy, but hey, it’s the bar, right? Studying clothes were yoga pants and a rotation of superhero t-shirts from target. Wireless bra, hair in a loose braid (ponytails would give me a headache), all the face masks. I ASO drank copious amounts of tea, and collected mugs that made me laugh or smile. I did a few things to make myself not feel like a gross troll creature stuck in a cave all day: kept a gallon jug of water with me all day to stay hydrated, required that one meal a day had to be mostly vegetables, took a shower every morning (but never blow dried my hair), and went outside once a day.
    The mental health part was more complicated. I had major problems sleeping due to anxiety, and what ended up working for me was drinking chamomile tea and reading a kid’s book in bed when I had to go to sleep. And I mean old school, classic children’s lit: Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland. They were so comforting and helped me turn my brain off. Even so, one week before the bar I could. not. take. it. I got (marginally) dressed, left my phone and computer at home, went to Barnes and Noble to pick up a book, went to the park and spent the whole day reading outside. I felt so much better the next day. Take a day to give yourself a real break.
    Also, if flash cards don’t work for you, screw them. Flash cards have never worked for me in any subject, so I don’t know why I wasted time hoping they would help me remember obscure property law crap. Instead, I got a roll of butcher paper and basically graphed out the elements of all the major doctrines I wanted to know. I would then roll it out in front of my dining table, sit on my dining table with my tea, and memorize it. The spatial aspect of this memorization style worked way better for me.
    You can do this! And, as my favorite law school professor would say, “remember that there’s no such thing as getting an A on the bar.”

  46. LS says:

    I took the Zella live-in legging name to heart and wore them every.day.

    Also, I went to law school in D.C., but took the CO bar. My classmate convinced me it was a good idea to drive across country with her and stay with her family (whom I’d never met) in CO the week before the bar. Reading commercial transactions flash cards while driving through Kansas in July heat is no one’s idea of relaxing. Three days before, we took the final practice MBE at her parents’ local public library and I got 50%, maybe less. I cried uncontrollably in front of a children’s summer reading circle. It was great. All that is to say, I still passed the bar, so don’t sweat low MBE scores and pre-bar travel.

    • Alison says:

      Is it terrible if this made me laugh a lot? I am going to tuck this away for a future crisis (especially since it has a happy ending!). I’m not a law student but I’m starting business school in the fall so I’m sure there will be tears.

  47. ACS says:

    Belle, I failed every single MBE I took leading up to the bar, and I still passed, even though I’m 99% sure I failed the MBE on the actual Bar, too. I cried every day the month leading up to the test, questioned every life choice I had ever made, and was just beside myself mentally and psychologically. All you have to do is hang in there, keep pushing through, and you’ll make it! Totally normal to feel the things you are feeling! You are an awesome woman, and although I know you’ve gone through some hard times the last few months, please take the encouragement from all these commenters as evidence of how much support you have from all these internet strangers who think you are phenomenal. You got this!

  48. J says:

    I was living with my boyfriend, and I had to move out the last month. He.did.not.get.it.

    I also put together an hour by hour schedule for the last month – having a plan and structure helped me get through the days. A good plan will force you to spend more time on trouble subjects, and you won’t feel guilty taking breaks, eating and sleeping.

    And I agree with everyone else – everyone bombs the MBE before the test. On the bright side – it puts enough fear in you to make sure you keep studying.

    Put the time in – and focus on you, and only you for the next 3 weeks.

  49. Kimberly says:

    I consistently was scoring low on the MBE. In TX where I took the bar I knew that the short answer on Day 1 and th essays on Day 3 would be where I could rack up the most points so I focused on those and let the chips fall where they may on the MBE. My MBE score wasn’t great, but guess what, I still passed on the first try. Follow the bar bri plan, do PMBR and you will be ready for the exam. You will do great!

  50. Anonymous says:

    A few weeks before the bar exam I started to lose it too. I would call my mother every night crying that I was going to fall. Of course I didn’t fail. Studying for the bar exam was the hardest thing I have ever done – it was much harder than the three years of law school. When I needed to take breaks from studying, I would clean. Don’t ask me why but I had these urges to clean the bathroom. My boyfriend would call me and ask what I was doing and I would tell him “scrubbing the tub.”

    As for what I wore, I wore a running t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Nothing fancy or as nice as what you are wearing I am sure.

  51. Gina says:

    As a professor I will say, the practice is supposed to be hard but also listen to your body and take care of yourself. Especially in the week leading up to the exam, be sure to allow yourself to sleep (sleep in even if your situation allows), stay hydrated, treat yourself to a massage or other stress relieving activity if possible, and know that you already have the knowledge to conquer this exam. Yes, keep practicing as it will help you prepare for the testing conditions, but ease up in the days leading up to the exam. It’s difficult for high achievers (I’ve been there and know the feeling that you ‘should be able to handle this’ and want to press on) to ease up in the final days, but I have seen bright and highly prepaired students and colleagues have panic attacks during exams because of burnout in the last days. You are capeable and have the knowledge necessary to pass, and you have been studying and preparing for the testing conditions. Treat yourself with compassion before the exam and you will get though this and come out on the other side. Disclaimer: haven’t taken the bar but have years of bombing grad and professional level multiple choice exams while succeeding in essays. People that think multiple choice is a breeze scare me 😉

  52. Hanna says:

    I got dressed in my gym clothes every morning so that I would force myself to exercise at some point during the day. I would have been in leggings anyway and getting outside and exercising was critical stress relief for me. I also highly recommend getting a mani pedi with an extra-long chair massage the afternoon before the bar. I was glad for the break and happy to have something pretty to look at on my fingers while I took the exam. Good luck!

  53. J. Clarxson says:

    The MBE is bass-ackwards. I had a question that essentially asked about the holding in Bush v. Gore, yet, none of the options reflected the holding. You’ve got the essay part down. You’ll do fine.

  54. SFL says:

    Belle, if you are worried about the MBE, I highly recommend working this practice book over the next couple of weeks: https://www.beagoat.com/store/p2/The_Multistate_Goat%3A_The_Essential_Book_of_MBE_Practice_Questions.html. Some of questions were verbatim on the July 2016 exam. Barbri’s were SO different.

  55. Cait says:

    My biggest suggestion is to eat real food, at least periodically! Once during a particularly intense study time when I was subsisting on coffee, twizzlers, and popcorn for an embarassing amount of time, a friend suggested I order in some real food (not pizza or hamburgers). I grumbled (don’t I DESERVE junk food with all this stress??) but had grilled chicken and veggies delivered to my door. Boring, bleh, healthy food that would thrill my mom and nutritionist. Let me tell you it made SO MUCH DIFFERENCE. I felt like one of those people on an infomercial talking about how whatever new diet craze changed their life.
    TL;DR- real food helps. We all know it helps, but studying and stress makes us forget!

  56. Carly says:

    I’m not in law school, in fact I work in IT but, reading these comments was so inspiring. I love reading about successful women not being afraid to work hard and admit this as well as the less”feminine” things they did during- e.g. Sweats, junk food.

  57. J says:

    You can make it through! The bar exam feels like this for everyone, and it’s a great sign that you’re feeling good about the essays at this point. I started feeling similarly about the MBE around this same time, and one of the best things I did was actually to slow down my practice exams and spend more time focusing on understanding why I was getting certain questions wrong — there was definitely a pattern, and once I figured out what it was my scores improved a lot.
    I also went the exact opposite in terms of comfy clothes near the end of studying for the bar. I was feeling like such crap about myself and I had put on a couple of pounds, so one of the things I made sure to do was to go to the gym every day for just 20-30 minutes. I also hid all of my sweatpants because they make me feel sloppy and out of control, and instead I wore a casual dress or skirt every day that I was studying (and to the actual exam — I’m pretty sure I was the only person in a skirt in that room of hundreds of people!). Feeling put together made me feel a lot more on top of my game, which gave me a boost of confidence when I was feeling so unsure about myself and how I would do on that stupid test.
    Good luck, you can do it!!!

  58. Carolyn says:

    You’ll do fine. Just keep doing the practice questions and reading the correct answers. First set, you got hardly any correct, right? Of course you dread trying again. But with the second set, you’ll get maybe 5 correct. By the 5th set, you’ll be creeping up to a passing percentage. Then do at least 3 more sets for good measure. Yes, everyone feels as you do. Have you done practice questions in your dreams yet?

  59. Lauren says:

    Super impressed you can get on leggings and a sweater! I wore oversized sweatpants , sneakers, hoodies and unwashed pony tails for about 14 days leading up to the bar exam; everyone in my NYC law school library was in more or less the same place.

    It’s awful and soul-crushing, but just keep taking practice MBEs; I found that BarBri’s multiple choice practice tests were harder than the actual test. I used those, figuring it would make the day of seem easier; I was wrong about that, but I did pass (and actually did well!) on the MBE.

    You’ve got this!

  60. Mel says:

    I studied for the bar in 2012 and my “uniform” was a pair of well worn jeans (I am really not a leggings girl), a tee shirt, and my law school sweatshirt, the cuffs of which were stained with coffee and three years of tears. I kept a pair of fuzzy socks in my bag so I could get comfy in the law library. (https://www.target.com/p/women-s-crew-double-lined-cozy-socks-xhilaration/-/A-21511426)

    If you feel miserable, your are doing the bar exam right. It is impossible to pass UNLESS you have a mental breakdown two or three weeks beforehand. Make sure you continue to take care of yourself by doing the simple things, like brushing your teeth, washing your face, eating healthy foods, exercising, and laughing. Set aside some time in the evenings for Netflix.

  61. Monica says:

    Some advice, and a lot of commiseration. I am retaking Pennsylvania this month after failing last February, and I’ve been working full-time (it sucks). Stay calm, and keep drilling day in and day out. Don’t get hung up on a practice set or two – the MBE is intended to rattle you. If you write coherent, well-reasoned essays, you’ll likely pass.

    I have been living in Lululemon leggings and dirty t-shirts because it feels like I haven’t done laundry since December.

  62. Sof says:

    I am so grateful for these comments! I have a chronic disease and am participating in a long-term medical study right now that has me attached to various intrusive, uncomfortable (and painful) equipment, and I am also really craving some comfort. I feel you, Belle, and I hope you keep your chin up. I’m with you in spirit.

  63. Lindsey says:

    I took the July 2016 MBE and it was much, much easier than Barbri. If you’re doing well on the essays, you know the material. Make sure to bring extra warm clothes and get some sleep before the bar! I could have typed so much more on my essays if I would have been able to feel my fingers. Good luck, you’ll do great!

  64. Martie says:

    I don’t remember what I wore when studying for the bar, but I do remember being way too hard on myself and my husband. Some really great advice I got was to go read the list of who passed the previous year’s exam. If some of those folks can pass, you’ve got this. Give yourself some mental breathing room in the last week, so you don’t go in with a brain full of mush. Do squats or jumping jacks every 20-30 minutes to shake out the cobwebs. Pomodoro method that sh*t. Definitely take a little time to care for yourself. You will nail this! It will be ok! Finally, keep this in perspective. It is a test. Your life is much bigger than a single test, no matter how consequential that test is. You will go great places with or without it. that is what I wish someone had told me.

  65. B says:

    I can definitely relate although in my instance it was doctoral comprehensive exams. For me it was leggings and a comfy top. By the way your points on how you plan to spend your week reminds me of hygge. A new concept I’ve been reading about. The people of Denmark are considered the happiest people in the world and their secret is hygge. Lastly, I’ll share one tidbit my grandmother gave me going into my exam day. She said you did all you can to prepare when you go in go with the mindset of if I pass I pass and if I don’t I don’t. Whatever the result I accept and know that I can retake it. My initial reaction was surprise – that my grandma would say that but you know what, that exam day going in with that thought in mind, it took the pressure off of me. In hindsight I realized that I relaxed more at the exam and did better because of it. Good luck, you can do this!

  66. Lindsay says:

    These joggers are my favorite thing to hang out in: https://a.co/fp58hpS. Yoga pants are too tight for me to get comfortable, and the ones I have don’t have any lining so they’re not very warm. These have the comfort of sweatpants without being baggy, and they are cheap! I also like the wide waste band. I wear them with a loose t-shirt and an open hoodie, or with a pullover hoodie. Really comfy, and if I really need to go out I can just put on some shoes and run to the store.

    You are almost there! 🙂

  67. LS says:

    My strategy was a little unorthodox, but I chose not to take an in-person class and instead purchased materials for home study. I read through these materials once or twice, but I spent my days taking practice MBEs (in my state-Georgia-most of the state topics are also MBE topics anyway). Taking test after test after test felt more like a game or puzzle and was far less painful than forcing myself to read incredibly boring outlines or flashcards. Also, taking a practice MBE in a format that gives you the correct answer immediately after you answer each question is far more efficient than taking a complete test then checking your answers at the end and not remembering the question! There’s definitely a place for taking a timed test, but for study purposes, getting immediate feedback is much faster.

    Best of luck!!!

  68. SnowWhy says:

    Hi Belle! Hang in there. In our house we have our ‘soft clothes’ for these times. I highly recommend Eileen fisher, nice natural fabrics that are a treat to put on and don’t need to be hidden. Also, I second the cashmere socks. You can do this!

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