What If You Failed the Bar Exam? Should You Retake a Bar Review Course?

So you find yourself in an unbelievable situation: You failed the bar exam.

Procedure in case you failed the bar exam

Reality is undeniable. You dust off your tears. It’s time to take action.

You wonder: What’s the next step?

Should you retake a bar prep course? What’s the alternative? 

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What to Do After the Bar Exam to Live a Normal Life Again (21 Post-Bartum 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 (and a few things NOT 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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What to Do in the Final Month of Bar Prep (“I’ve fallen into the trap of relying on what Barbri tells me to do”)

A question about what to do in the final month of bar prep after sitting through Barbri:

“I have fallen in the trap of relying on what Barbri tells me to do. I am 200 hours in and have watched all the videos for the 7 main MBE sections. I know basics, but I feel vastly unprepared to tackle this exam and kind of hopeless. Now that I have your materials, do you have any advice on what I can do to master all this material will four weeks left? Sitting through hours of lectures did nothing for me. Thank you so much for preparing all these materials.”

Sound familiar?

The Plan isn’t working. Panic sets in, and cold sweat oozes down your unkempt hair.

First off, this understandable and common. Still, in years past, many people have made it out in the final month and even in the final two weeks.

So right off the bat, know that you can do this (as cliché as it sounds). You are capable. And you will make it out, even if you don’t believe so right now. You have to make it out, to be exact.

No pressure, right? The thing to do right now to regain your sanity is to take stock of what you need to do and have at least a rough idea of what to do from here. Create a plan of attack if you don’t have one yet.

Here are some areas to prioritize and some pointers on how to spend the remaining few weeks (and when to stop relying on notes for closed-book practice):

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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
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