1. What do you say to a friend who is preparing for the bar exam to cheer him/her up? I can only think of the sentence "keep up the good work", but are there any other phrases that I can use?

  2. In the above situation, if I also happen to be preparing for the same kind of exam, what would be the common cheering words that I could say to my friends? "Let's keep up the good work" sounds somewhat awkward...

3 Answers 3


Here are a few idioms you could use:

That last one might be a bit tricky for non-native speakers. The phrase was originally used in theater, where it's considered bad luck to wish someone good luck, so you'd say "break a leg," as a "backwards" way to wish them success. But the idiom has evolved to mean "Good luck!" in other ventures outside the theater, and is generally well-understood to be a way of conveying well-wishes.

  • Thanks for variety of useful expressions. Would there be any expression that I can use in situation 2, i.e., "let's all get through this and pass this exam?"
    – Peter Kim
    Jun 28, 2012 at 3:12
  • 1
    @PeterKim anything that makes you feel empowered, such as this bar exam doesn't stand a chance against the likes of us! Jun 28, 2012 at 4:45
  • @PeterKim: You could say "Piece of cake" or "Easy as pie." Those two idioms are used to indicate something is easily acheived and unlikely to be fraught with snags or setbacks. Of course, you would be uttering these idioms with deep sarcasm, becaues a bar exam is anything but a piece of cake, or easy as pie. But, by using those idioms, you would essentially be inferring: "We are going to work so hard prepping for this test, that, by the time we get in there, it'll be a breeze!" (It's an expression of confidence acheieved through hard work, not a specious notion that the test will be easy.)
    – J.R.
    Jun 28, 2012 at 9:43
  • My suggestions might be used in this context: Your friend asks, "How do you think we'll do on this exam?" and you answer, with a dismissive wave of your hand, "Piece of cake!" all the while knowing that you'd better keep studying...
    – J.R.
    Jun 28, 2012 at 9:46

Saying "keep up the good work" implies that you are aware of their progress in their studies and you are encouraging them by telling them to maintain their standard of productivity. I put some phrases below that might convey similar meanings.

I think you may be looking for idioms or popular expressions of this nature. Some phrases that I can think off the top of my head are:

You can do this! You've prepared really well, keep it up! I think you're ready for the exam.

"Keep up the good work" has a very broad meaning, yet it can also be very encouraging.


There's always, "No pain, no gain." It means without going through the tough times (in this case, studying), there can be no reward (the good grade or score at the end). It was originally used in sports training, but I think it is used more generally now.

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