Feeling Worried or Anxious Waiting for Bar Results?

First two weeks after the bar exam: Excited over congratulatory meals even though you haven’t passed yet

In between: Alternating between boredom and nightmares that remind you that you already took the bar exam and it can’t hurt you anymore

Last two weeks before bar results: HELP ME

anxiety waiting for bar results

In your desperation, you seek advice regardless of who it is…

You: “How do I handle the post-exam stress and anxiety of waiting for bar results?”

Your drunk uncle: “Don’t dwell on it… Trust in yourself… Don’t think about your answers…”

You nod politely and close the door behind you.

One problem: Our brains don’t always listen to reason! It’s hard not to think about the most important exam of your career.

In your most private moments, when all is still, you get flashbacks to the exam, relive the things you did wrong, and blow it up to the worst proportions.

The smallest error, realizing that you answered a few MBE questions wrong or made one misstatement in an entire essay, can seem like the difference between passing and failing. (“It WAS spousal testimonial privilege, not marital communications privilege! FUCK”)

You can’t just tell your brain to “stop thinking about it”… It’s inevitable that you’ll think about it. But you can change HOW you think about it and ease the agony a bit.

After screaming into your pillow, try these three ways to reframe your situation to reduce waiting anxiety (more details follow):

  1. The worst case: What’s the absolute worst that could happen?
  2. Reducing anticipation: Mentally push back D-Day
  3. Don’t be miserable in advance
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What to Do After the Bar Exam to Live a Normal Life Again (21 Fun Ideas)

Weeks and months of insanity putting on life on hold to study for the bar exam.

The onslaught of psychologically tormenting questions.

It’s over.

The hard-fought battle has ended. The dust has settled. There’s nothing left. No rewards. Just palpable silence (filled only with “how do you think you did? oh wow”) and an empty space in your heart. What were you fighting for this whole time?

It’s hard to believe it’s over, isn’t it?

We get attached to the struggle.

Now yet another difficult part called “waiting” begins. It might be harder than the actual prep. After the shell shock that was the bar exam, what do you do?

mixed feelings after bar exam

What is “free time” again? Is it edible? Will life be the same?

Some people seem to be completely happy with this state of being, while others get post-bartum depression. Let’s recover from your mixed feelings and bring life back to normal.

Here are 21 ideas on what to do to stay sane now that the bar exam is over (ideas that have nothing to do with studying for the exam “just in case”).

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5 Reframes to Power Up Your Mind and Emotions for the Bar Exam Right Now

Preparing for the bar exam forces you to cycle through various emotions over weeks and months.

One moment calm, feeling like you’ve done all you could. Panic and anxiety the next moment. Frustration. Utter confusion. Overwhelm. Back to relief. Rinse and repeat.

Reality can betray the most reasonable of your expectations and daydreams at whim, coloring the past with regrets and the future with despair.

But it can also present us with gifts if you look carefully. Some days you have to look much harder than other days. 

If life only gives you lemons, you weren’t looking out for the oranges.

Here are five philosophies you can apply right now to mentally reframe how you feel about the bar exam:

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101 Rules for Bar Exam Preparation

Here’s a list of 101 quick bullets on preparing for the bar exam.

Your answer is probably somewhere in here if you ever feel like asking the worst questions in the world:

  • “Do you have any advice?” (only if there’s enough context)
  • “Can you help?” (can you help?)
  • “Thoughts?” (a minimalist reply seems rude but tempting)
  • “HELP!” “Let’s connect” (?)
  • Anything with more than one question mark in a row unironically

If you have the Magicsheets & Approsheets suite, you already have access to the exclusive pocket guide “17 Strategies to Get Un-stuck and Un-frustrated by the Bar Exam.”

I tried something even more straight to the point.

Why 101? I wanted to do something contrived like 100 and ended up with 1 more (say hi to your OCD for me). I’ll probably update this in the future. This is an amorphous and evolving draft. Nothing is set in stone. Things change. Things get better. Same with your bar prep.

Feel free to disagree with any point. Advice is autobiography. Advice is never one-size-fits-all. Take what you like and leave the rest.

If some rules seem contradictory, that’s where interesting things happen.

Let me know which parts you agree with, parts you disagree with, or contradictions you thought about on your own and resolved.

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Write Essays as If You’re Preparing Your Essay Grader “Client”

When writing essays on the bar exam, it’s important to use good presentation to make it as easy as possible for the graders to consume.

It’s a test of empathy.

In fact, you should treat the graders as your “clients.”

I received an email from Max, a reader who took this perspective at least a step further. I particularly love that Max phrased it as preparing someone else for a presentation, because in the “real world,” your job is indeed to make your boss (a “client”) look good to their boss (whether their own superior or client).

Max mentions that he started doing better on the essays when thinking about essays in this “preparing” manner, rather than a more self-centric approach where you’re showing off your knowledge. He categorizes three different levels of preparing your client.

I felt that his insights were wasted to be archived in my inbox, so here it is (edited only to generalize for non-California readers).

I hope this gives you a helpful perspective on how to treat essay writing:

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