Writing The Bar in a Pandemic. Dear Nigerian Law School Student, In a Matter of Hours you will be Making History – By Caleb Adebayo
You will be doing what no other set before you has, working against odds that have not been worked against before, striving against challenges that no set before you has experienced before- you will be writing the Bar in a pandemic.
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You will, in spite of the many mental health and other challenges resulting from the over 122 million cases of infection and 2.6 million deaths across the world, be sitting for one of the toughest exams in your career.
I don’t know how to write the Bar in a pandemic, but you will be doing it. You’re brave and I want to commend that.
In the past few weeks, you have shown resilience – resuming from what was a COVID-sponsored hiatus with no discernible end in sight and picking up the gauntlet with such courage. That is a testimony to the kind of stuff you’re made of. And I’m not being superfluous with words here.
You picked up learning again- studying, drafting, preparing, praying. I know how tough the virtual learnings were, marred by all the possible challenges one could name. And for some of you, all you had were the soft copy notes and your maker.
Over the next couple of days, you will be the first set to write the Nigerian Law School Bar exam in a pandemic. I know some of you are already frustrated from all the delay, fed up with the very little time you had to learn or prepare for the exams, nervous by the uncertainties ahead, and many are simply just tired. I know, but you have come this far. Please keep the faith a little longer.
You will scale this, I am sure. What you have read, give yourself the permission to remember. Please. Be calm. Read that question carefully. Think through it. You probably know the answer anyway. That 1st class, that 2.1, they are within your reach.
Forget the doomsday stories you hear of the Bar finals. Tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people have passed through this and succeeded. When you succeed, you would have beat both the exams and the pandemic. There would be no better pointer to the core skill of resilience for a future employer than the ability to ace the Bar in such trying times.
You have given this your all since January 2020. This is the point where you reap the fruits of your labour. So walk into that exam hall, head high, with your harvester and come out bearing the sheaves!
By now, you must have heard lots of advice on what to do in the exams and what not to, and have probably memorized pages of drafts. So I will not tow that path again. I will instead tell you how you must trust yourself to deliver on what you have read. Don’t spend so much time fretting about what you don’t know, that you forget what you do. In this exam, focus on your strengths, just like you have all through the pandemic.
I had certainly hoped that things would have been made easier for you in the light of the times we live in- they weren’t. So this exam is you saying, “I beat all the odds”. It is you slapping your chest and saying “They didn’t lower the bar for the Bar, but I aced it”. So be proud of yourself. This is huge.
I must mention the gift of your classmates- don’t underestimate what an asset they can be. At this time, revision matters a lot more than any new reading. And what better way to revise than with your classmates. Do that with those of them you have formed bonds with over time. Your answer to question number 4 might just be gleaned from those kind of revisions.
I should remind you to take sufficient hours of sleep, since that is the save button for all you read. Sleep is not for the weak, it is for human beings- and we need the strength it provides to be optimal. Don’t burn out. Keep yourself nourished and hydrated as well.
Your mental health too, take care of that. Take wellness breaks, pace yourself, don’t overwhelm yourself.
And whenever you feel discouraged, try to remember what got you on this journey. Why are you here? It’s the last lap now. Don’t drop the ball. Look with expectation to what lies ahead of you.
In all of this, it is critical to anchor yourself on your faith in God. Let that faith calm your fears and allay your doubts. You’re not alone in this. God’s with you. Just like He has been through the pandemic. You will do just fine. I certainly can’t wait to welcome you to the Bar. All the very best!
I’ll be praying for you.
LLM Candidate, New York University.