“Well, tests ain’t fair. Those that study have an unfair advantage.” – Allan Dare Pearce, Paris in April
This morning, I have two messages.
The first, to our current students, particularly our first-year students; the second, to our recent 2020 graduates who passed and did not pass the October 2020 Bar Exam.
To Our Students- Final Exams
Final exams begin this week and continue until December 18. You’ve worked hard all semester. You’ve diligently read and briefed your cases, prepared and reviewed your notes and outlines, and practiced your legal analysis on hypotheticals and old exams.
- Prepare your mind: Do mindfulness exercises before you begin your exam, or yoga, or anything to put yourself at ease. Trust your preparation – remember you have done the work.
- Prepare your body: Make sure you get plenty of rest and eat well before each exam, so you can go in to your exams refreshed and energized. You need stamina to perform at your best.
- Find a quiet place to take your exams: You should try to take your exams in a quiet space with as few distractions as possible, and make sure you have a good reliable internet connection. Communicate with roommates, friends and loved ones that you cannot be disturbed during exams. Before your exam begins, make sure you have everything you need to take the exam, you understand your specific exam instructions, and know how to submit your final exam answer.
- Finally, when you begin your exam: Read the instructions carefully, and don’t rush to answer. Stop and think for a while. Organize your answer in your mind and on scrap paper. Once you begin to write, be careful to monitor your time and make sure you have included all of the issues, rules and legal analysis that you need to answer the question well. Make sure your conclusion answers the question asked. Do a final review and submit your answer.
Do not think about the exam again. It’s over and done. Do not talk about it with others. It’s time to refocus on your next exam, or your winter break plans if you’re all finished.
Below is my Serenity Prayer for Final Exams.
God grant me the serenity to accept that this semester of disruption and stress has already tested me in ways I could not have imagined.
- The courage to lean into the uncertainty with strength, resilience, and optimism.
- And the wisdom to know that whatever the circumstances I face, I always have a choice on how to respond.
- Understanding that if I change the way I look at things, the things I look at can change.
- Realizing that sometimes we need to be set apart to feel together.
- Learning that it’s possible to physically isolate and digitally connect.
- Thanking our faculty and staff for pivoting to remote teaching and support.
- Knowing that I have prepared the best I can from the confines and distractions of my home.
- Trusting in my skills and surrendering to an unshakeable belief in myself.
- Accepting that the exam doesn’t just test my knowledge, it tests my state of mind.
- Washing my hands and clearing my mind.
- Focusing on the moment, parking my worries and fears at the bedroom door, and visualizing success.
- Pacing myself, taking each question one at a time, and applying the law to the facts.
- Taking the exam as it is, not how I or others would have written it.
- Supremely happy that I am a student at a law school where we have each other’s back and we are in this together.
- Remembering that I have chosen to study and work during this time of my life like most people won’t, so that I can learn law and live justice like most people can’t.
To our 2020 Graduates- October Bar Exam
To those of you who passed the October Bar Exam, congratulations! Your success is all the more impressive and meaningful given that you spent your final semester studying in the midst of an unprecedented public health pandemic, were not able to celebrate your graduation in an in-person commencement, and you had to endure the ups and downs, stresses, and frustrations of moving from a July bar exam to a September bar exam, and finally to the first-ever remote bar exam in October. You may be the most resilient graduates in our law school’s history!
To those of you who did not pass the October Bar Exam, we share in your disappointment, but we continue to believe in you and in your ultimate success. Don’t let this define you. You were not given this opportunity; you earned it. You met our high standards for admission. You met our high standards for graduation. You are a proud graduate of a great law school and you will succeed. Please know that our career planning and bar preparation teams are here to support you as you move forward. Some friends are like your shadow- they’re only with you when the sun is shining. We are always with you.
To our students and to our graduates - we are your law school for life.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice.
Have a great day. Have a great week.
For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages.
My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.
Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law | Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law