The externship period is gradually wrapping up and I know many law students are agitated at this point about how all that they have we read and all they know right now is not sufficient to scale through the almighty Bar Finals. Well, this is to let you know that you can still pass the exams and pass very well at that!
I will try to recount some of the all too familiar challenges you are probably experiencing at the moment as well as some practical solutions I consider useful to you in response.
You know more than you know
You are probably beating yourself up because you realize how much you do not know and find yourself questioning whether all the time at the Law School was not a sheer waste. Well, I am happy to inform you that this feeling is not peculiar to you alone. Trust me, you know more than you think you do, particularly if you have been studying in the past. What you should do now is get up, pick up your books and continue studying. Have some faith in yourself.
Face your lane
You have met a lot of ‘smart-asses’, you know, people you are convinced are guaranteed a First Class in the upcoming Bar examinations. This will be more real to you if you are from a campus other than the Lagos campus and you have met people from other campuses. However, my advice is that you should relax and make up your mind not to be intimidated by anyone. Rather, focus on the things you are required to learn and commit yourself to learning them.
Make the best of the time you have left
24 hours just seems to be too little. You probably wish there were more than 24 hours in a day as they just seem to be never enough to accomplish all the tasks you set out to do at the beginning of the day. I also had the same challenge in Law School and I will share the method I adopted to address this. First, you need to take the saying “time lost cannot be regained” literally. Live every second in the realization that you are never getting it back. This is the time to avoid irrelevant gist, chats, hang outs, etc.Shun procrastination. Do not neglect anything you feel may be relevant. As soon as you realize that there is something you do not know or are not sure of, do not procrastinate. Look it up immediately.
- Make your free time purposeful: attempt a draft or read a topic you are already familiar with again. It makes you more familiar with the topics and you will be surprised how much you do not know about a topic you previously thought you had your hands on.
- Adopt a practical style: whilst the emphasis in this regard is on keeping notes (I did keep notes), I have heard about a young man who made a First Class from the Law School without having kept a single note. Undoubtedly, the safest and most popular approach is to keep a note as this makes the whole idea of constant reading much easier. However, if you have tried this method and find that it does not work for you or simply isn’t your style and you are convinced that you will be completely fine without notes, then by all means do.Another important issue that comes up in relation to style is time of studying. While some people prefer to study at night, some others cannot keep their eyes open in the dark to save their lives. If you belong to the latter group (as do I), then you just have to adjust your busy schedule to accommodate more study in terms of both volume and intensity. In addition, you may have to extend your definition of daytime to include all hours but those between 12 midnight and 4:00am. This way, you are able to have work within a longer period and still get to sleep at night.
- Eat and sleep: many variables are involved in what you ultimately make out of law school. Two of these include adequate preparation and good health. As much as you devote your to studying for the bar, you must understand the all-important responsibility you have to keep yourself healthy, as much as you can. In pursuance of this therefore, taking proper meals at the right times is non-negotiable alongside ensuring that you go to the hospital as soon as you feel the need to.There have been instances where people have failed the Bar exams on health grounds.
- Shun fear: you will be doing yourself a lot of disservice at this point if all you can contemplate is how much you fear the forthcoming exams. This is like directing a two-pronged sword at yourself. While on the one hand, you are gradually robbing yourself of every shred of confidence you previously had, on the other, you are denying yourself of the ability to study optimally. This will definitely affect your ultimate productivity.
In conclusion, the bar finals are in a few weeks and my two-cents is that you maintain a calm disposition through it all, contrary to popular opinion. As long as you know you are doing the right things, some of which I have highlighted above, there is absolutely nothing for you to worry about. After all, people who have made First class in the past “do not have two heads” the same way you don’t.
See you at the top!
Precious Ivongbe is a First Class graduate of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja campus. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2016. She graduated from the University of Lagos in 2015 with Second Class Upper Honours. She is currently undertaking her compulsory NYSC programme at the law firm of Aluko & Oyebode.