How to Be the Ultimate Sore Loser (to Pass the Bar Exam Next Time)

You see that Schroedinger’s bar results are available, where irreconcilable possibilities coexist as long as you don’t look.

  • “Do I really check right now? Should I leave it alone?”
  • “Do I choose purgatory or risk hell?”
  • “I could just wait until Sunday so I could avoid anxiety / have a relaxing weekend!”

Good luck with that, dude.

You waited for this moment for months, maybe years. You can’t handle the anticipation bursting out of the seams of your heart. You check and find that you…

Did not pass…

How frustrated are you?

If you’re the type who hates to lose, who will struggle like an ugly worm, I can show you how you just might pass next time…

All right, so some seasonally employed bar graders thought you weren’t fit to practice law.

That’s how they want to play it? Fine.

It’s not like they really care about your ability to practice law or manage clients anyway. The only way they even care about your existence after you pass the bar is if you don’t pay your annual dues.

But you have jobs to get, people to impress, and people to depend on you to take care of. You lost this time, but your ambition insists that you’re supposed to win.

You’re determined to show them they were wrong because you’re a sore loser who doesn’t want to lose.

Don’t get angry.

Don’t get impatient.

Desire is a slow-acting poison that will literally paralyze you and burn you out if you make it too strong. You do have enough time to fulfill your dream.

Do these instead:

Be Methodical and Deliberate

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” (Was this Mark Twain? Maybe, he takes credit for everything.)

Here’s the typical frazzled bar student:

Not you! You’re going to ditch the mindless approach (like checking off tasks on your bar prep course or staring at lectures).

Now you’re going to be MAD: methodical and deliberate.

By now, you’ve shed one or more tears, had your heart shrivel a size, or punched something or someone. The time for wallowing or feeling sorry for yourself is over.

If you have the energy to spend, put it to good use over the next three months.

How are you going to learn from your previous performance and adjust course? Easier said than done. So I’m going to make it as easy for you as possible.

If we’re taking on the bar, it has to be premeditated first-degree murder, not randomly throwing a bunch of rocks off a building to see what hits.

BTW, you’re also going to be ahead of first-time takers because now you have experience and know everything pretty much. You now have that thing that would have been helpful last time. Sweet!

Well, I’m not going to lie and glorify failure under the pretext of gaining experience. Failure still sucks, but you now at least have some ideas on how to turn things around so you don’t end up like the perpetual repeaters who just do the same thing and expect to pass next time.

So what do I mean by methodical and deliberate?

1.    Have a targeted plan.

Figure out where you went wrong, then optimize your study around that.

Got cranked by the MBE? 

One common approach to studying the MBE is to track the overall % rate. There’s nothing wrong with this per se. In fact, it’s good practice and preferable over not tracking anything.

Even better is to track your win rate across subjects and subtopics.

What’s the point of studying each subject equally if you’re already good at Evidence but can’t go under par for Crim Pro even if your life depended on it? This is where deliberate practice comes in.

In this example, more of your efforts should go toward doing Crim Pro questions until Crim Pro is no longer the lowest-performing subject.

What about essays? 

One common advice with essays is to “do essays.”

Yes, it’s a very good idea to try to solve essays—several per subject, probably more than once for some essays. You also should check that you include all the relevant issues and rules (there’s a systematic way to do this instead of randomly “spotting” issues). And then compare against model answers.

[CA only] You could look at real high- and low-scoring answers at BarEssays.comHere’s a code to get $25 off.

What about PTs? 

You still remember those, right?

Even worse is the clown who tells people they don’t need to practice PTs. Iodize me cap’n because that shit makes me so salty.

Why would you not practice the section that’s 100% guaranteed to appear, is worth more than an essay, and doesn’t require memorization? Go wing the PTs if you want, but don’t drag others into it.

But PTs are easy to forget about among the frenzy around the MBE and essays. Try to schedule at least one PT every Tuesday (the written day of the actual exam).

But once you master this area, you’ll feel much more confident about the bar exam overall and give yourself a large score buffer as well.

Pick your weakest link and work on it until it’s no longer the weakest link. 

You’ll notice this is a repeatable method! It’s also a never-ending process. Indeed, you’re never done studying for the bar. You’re pumped up now, but can you keep this up for three months?

Who said this was going to be easy? Soon, the living shall envy the dead.

Whenever you feel like giving up, imagine me telling you: “Again.”

2.    Invest in the right resources.

No one is an island. In fact, now’s a great time to build allies.

Do you have friends who passed the bar? Ask them for their materials. They’ll want to get rid of anything that reminds them of the bar.

Do you have friends who didn’t pass? Commiserate and share resources with them. They’ll want to huddle with another comrade).

In case friendship isn’t one of your hobbies, here are 10 places to seek the hidden abundance all around you. In addition, this page has everything you need to pass the bar exam.

If you want to be a sore loser turned winner, strongly consider absorbing other people’s wisdom and work. It’s not the time to be bogged down by your pride. Everyone is relying on external help to get ahead.

But before you acquire a particular resource, make sure you have a reason for doing so. Going all in and buying a bunch of stuff may only be you buying the feeling of progress.

You might be hesitant to buy anything else after getting burned by the ineffectiveness of the prep course you last used. Thankfully, bar prep doesn’t have to be expensive. Most resources, when combined, cost less than a single bar review course.

If you want something you can’t, do your due diligence to pick just a few. More isn’t necessarily better!

3.    Figure out where to dedicate your attention to studying.

When I failed the bar exam the first time, it was a failure of myself—my arrogance, underestimation of the exam, and mindless shotgun tactical hell.

It was also caused in part by a failure to focus on the right strategies. My written score made it painfully obvious that my study approach needed tweaking.

You may think it’s a matter of trying harder, but that’s not always the case.

Say your performance isn’t changing. It’s like singing off key. You can’t fix it by singing louder. In fact, singing louder actually makes it worse!

It is not money or time that is the true scarcity of the world. It’s human attention. It’s your finite attention.

Focus on the efforts that actually bring results—the needle movers. 

For example, you don’t have to go over lectures again (exhausting and very low return on time spent).

When in doubt, fall back to the repeatable weakest link method mentioned above.

How to Be the Ultimate Sore Loser

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald

To summarize:

  1. Be MAD: methodical and deliberate.
  2. Have a targeted plan. Always work on your weakest link. Intentionally avoid the easy path.
  3. Invest in external resources. Let go of your pride. Select your resources wisely so that they are worth the return.
  4. Allocate your finite attention to what works for you instead of a scattered shotgun approach. More work is not necessarily the answer.

Devour and absorb the experiences from your past and of others. Use them to stage a constant evolution of your study strategy. Be a sore loser who hates losing more than anything else.

Share This

3 Replies to “How to Be the Ultimate Sore Loser (to Pass the Bar Exam Next Time)”

  1. Phenomenal advice from a clearly brilliant albeit fellow re-tester.
    Hitting on everything I was sure I did wrong (my shame is a bit less now) && even better validating my new method of attack–&& offering practical & world-wise methods, resources & guidance.

    I’m newly invigorated & I just can’t thank you enough.

    1. I’m glad you found it helpful, Colleen. Rereading this older article made me a bit embarrassed, though! Thanks for the blast to the past :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.