How to Overcome Failing the Bar Exam and Change Your Reality

A law firm was about to give me a job offer.

Turns out they had a strict GPA cutoff of top 10%. Even the partner who pushed for me got in trouble for ignoring their antiquated policy.

The gatekeepers said: No.

That’s OK. A different firm had given me an offer the day before.

I accepted it. I withdrew from yet another interview process.

But there was an issue with a conflict check that took nearly a month to conduct. They rescinded the offer. I had already moved apartments to be closer to the new firm.

Blue balled at the last minute again! Three birds in the hand, nothing to show for it.

“Who the hell are you to compare my failure to yours? Waa… at least you still have a job!”

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Prioritizing Rules to Know on the Bar Exam (and How to Dominate the Essays)

Ever wonder how you’re supposed to juggle everything in your head? How do you prioritize the rules to know for the bar exam?

If you’re a bar taker, that’s CONSTANTLY on your mind. There are just so many rules to know.

You’d love to start practicing essays but feel like you just haven’t learned enough law yet.

How are you supposed to learn all this when time is tight? How do you tackle the massive body of rules to know?

Key takeaways:

  • Learn not just the rules but also how to present and organize the issues
  • Highest-priority issues and rules are those that have appeared in the past (there are two other categories)
  • There are efficient and effective ways to hit both of the above at once
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The 3 Things You Need When Starting Bar Prep (Live Stream Replay)

“What should I know when I’m starting bar prep?”

I did a live stream with Jennifer Duclair to talk about how to take the guesswork out of bar preparation and get a better sense of direction as you start studying for your next bar exam.

It was fun! Japes and nuggets of insights were dropped, and I’m pleased with how this turned out. (Maybe I’ll do another one next year…)

Here’s me throwing Kaplan under the bus:

What to do with your schedule when starting bar prep

Here’s the recording (go to 8:12 where I talk about the study schedule shown above), along with timestamps so you can jump to the parts you’re most interested in:

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What’s the Best Way to Study for the Bar Exam WITH a Bar Prep Course?

You know me. I’m a proponent of self-studying for the bar exam.

Not just me. Many retakers who pass come back to tell me that they wish they’d abandoned the bloated courses in the first place. I hear this every year.

But that’s not the point of this article. While going solo can be effective not just in terms of cost but by virtue of its emphasis on learning, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes we want everything laid out and be told what to do.

You understandably feel lost with seemingly no other option other than a bar review course when you first start out. It’s such an important exam that you want to do it right. I’d lean towards taking a course if you’re a first timer and want a structure.

Most people start with a traditional commercial bar prep course like Barbri, Themis, Kaplan (if you’re a masochist like me), or BarMax — or even a smaller independent course like that offered by JD Advising, Studicata, SmartBarPrep, or many others.

In other words, there are many ways to study for the bar exam. They can all work. Instead of debating for days which program is the “best” and ending up undecided, worry about being a good student. 

Bar prep, at its core, is self-study. Courses and materials are merely there to support YOUR studies.

That said, let’s talk about how to pick a bar prep course and how to use it to move the needles that will help you learn.

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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
Continue reading “Feeling Worried or Anxious Waiting for Bar Results?”