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 They rescinded the offer.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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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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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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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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