Weeks and months of insanity putting on life on hold to study for the bar exam.
The onslaught of psychologically tormenting questions.
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?
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”).
21 ideas on what to do after the bar exam to get your normal life back
1. Sleep in. Don’t set an alarm. Let the sun rouse your weary eyes.
2. Stock up your fridge. You can’t live on cup noodles anymore.
3. Reach out to old friends. (“Hey, did you age a bit?”)
4. Reach out to old bosses from prior internships. (Networking!)
5. Say thank you to the people who supported your preparation process. You can’t be grateful and fearful at the same time.
6. Explore a local spot or go travel somewhere new. Take yourself out to an Instagrammable brunch
7. Learn how to do that thing you’ve been putting off because you were busy. Cook! Learn a new recipe! Exercise! Learn how to do a handstand! (I’m still working on this.)
8. Go shopping for fall/spring outfits. Summer/winter passed by you.
9. Visit a museum and stand in front of a piece with your hands behind your back. Contemplate on the art and not on the bar exam or your existential crisis.
10. Check out (or window shop) Experiences and Online Experiences on Airbnb for fun ideas.
11. Volunteer. (“I want to go to law school to ~help people~”)
12. Get in touch with your local bar association to get to know people (including those who might be your future colleagues).
13. Read fiction, listen to a podcast, or watch a movie. Get through your queue. It’s OK… Put that outline down.
14. Go outdoors where there’s sunlight (hiking, picnicking, beach bumming, etc.).
15. Go to a yoga retreat or a spa for a full-body scrub or whatever you spirit animals do.
16. Take a course to obtain a different license or to learn something new (lots of free online courses out there).
17. Pick up a challenging hobby because you’re a masochist now. No, but really, you’ve pushed your limits, and your ceiling is now your floor after going through bar prep. Try archery, training for a marathon, difficult video games, etc.
18. Do your laundry and wash the tears out of your pillowcase. Clean your bathtub for once. It’s a new beginning.
19. Find an internship related to your practice area of interest to pad out your resume (or go back to your job). See #4.
20. Resist the feelings of regret about how you did on the exam.
21. Give into the feelings of regret and generate projections of optimistic and worst-case scenarios of how you did. You weren’t allowed to do this during bar prep. Well, now’s the time.
Did you notice there’s nothing about studying thinking it couldn’t hurt? It can hurt. You don’t want to burn yourself out.
Take a few weeks off at least. Let your experience simmer and gel in your body before you start studying again.
Some things NOT to do while waiting for bar results:
1. Be overly expectant one way or another, convinced that you must have passed or failed. Some passers come out convinced they failed and vice versa.
2. Try to deduce things like whether you passed or not from your bar admission status, whether your character and fitness application was accepted or denied, using arithmetic to try to extrapolate scores that will be statistically determined by expert psychometricians, etc. You can have fun with all this for sure, but in actuality, there’s no way to find out ahead of time.
3. Strangle the next person who says, “You’ll be fine!” or “How’d you do?”
It ain’t over until the bar results say so (and you don’t get an email saying it was a mistake).
But what if you’re feeling anxious or worried waiting for bar results? Check out this article on 3 ways to reframe your anxiety.
If you found this article helpful, drop a link to it in your favorite bar exam/prep Facebook group or subreddit, or send it to your friend who’s freaking out about what to do after the bar exam.
And if you do want to stay in the loop for the next bar exam, sign up for my weekly coaching newsletter and MBE questions by clicking here. You’ll also get coupons for AdaptiBar, UWorld, BarEssays, as well as a short guide that will be useful for any future bar prep you do.