What to Do If You Are Retaking the Bar

It’s not your fault.

You waited months. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, you slowly lost your ability to focus on anything. Blood knocking against all corners of your body. You suffered those few seconds of pure agony as you searched for your name on the pass list of truth.

You didn’t even care about celebrating. You would have spent your lifetime of luck to get this hurdle over with.

But then…nothing to show for all your damn effort

It could’ve been anything. Maybe your proctor kept walking by with a weird cough. Maybe you were distracted by your table mate who kept snorting his nose. Maybe you were running around trying to secure lunch and got lost.

The bar shows NO mercy, NO sense. It seems like there is at least a quasi-objective determination of your aptitude, but how did they get your final score? It’s like graders sit on their toilet and give your essays whatever score they feel like (this isn’t too far from the truth actually).

But this is the game we’re playing.

It’s not your fault, but you can always make preparations to prevent it. They say prevention is the cure.

The very fact that you’re reading this shows me you are determined to change things around. If so, read on to see how you can reposition your inner mindset today for success next time.

If you’re going to pretend that reading this and going “yeah, that’s what I should do” before forgetting everything I said will miraculously change anything, then please get off my site and go back to Upworthy to continue slacktivism there.

Read on if you are retaking the bar and want to learn how to tweak your attitude before getting back into the game.

Recognize it’s a mere setback

Yes, this is a devastating setback. But what is a setback? It’s a temporary holdup. Thus, it is also a mere setback.

This has little bearing on your character. Confine your shame to this specific effort of trying to obtain your certification. Try not to generalize it to your character (no character evidence allowed).

I know. Easier said than done. Sometimes I feel the shock even to this day, especially when I’m having a hard time at work.

What works for me is to confine my shame to this specific iteration. July was merely an iteration—a test, an experiment—to get to your passing version.

You either learn or succeed. Learn from it, tweak your settings, and try again. Then the next time, you will feel doubly more happy that you were able to pass.

Be hardcore

If there’s one thing people realize after the bar, it’s that the bar doesn’t mess around. You gotta be hardcore. I asked some folks about what they thought about their experiences, and here’s what they had to say:

Take this test seriously otherwise you will regret not giving ample time to study for a test that is not at all ‘cram-able’ like you might have been able to do for law school finals. This test commands respect and it will ruin your life if you do not take it seriously.“—S.L.

Don’t be scared into following your bar program if you find after paying for it that it doesn’t work for you. Do what works for you, stick with it, experiment and get into a pace and method.“—S.K.

Make it your priority

To be hardcore, you’ll need to put in some work. Put in the hard work up front to reap the benefits for the rest of your long life.

You need to make this your priority over almost everything. Ask any lawyer, and they’ll probably tell you the same. Tell your friends who keep inviting you out that your priority is elsewhere. Of course, you’d better do something to show for it if you told your parents to piss off just now.

Say “no”

To make the bar your priority, you have to say “no” to everything that does not serve your improvement, technique, and memorization for the bar exam.

Don’t do extra things like working on a journal article. Don’t work a full-time job. At least not now. The bar is your life now. Distractions like these only chip away at your chance of passing.

That is also hard work because you have to deny other people. It doesn’t feel good, but you can always catch up with them later. They may not understand. You didn’t understand until recently. Everyone will understand eventually.

Make bar prep your only concern in order to move in that direction instead of being pulled in different directions.

Say “yes”

Surrounding the average are those above average and below average. If you follow the path set out by others, you will end up like the average. You win some; you lose some. Right?

Hmm, when it comes to the bar exam, I think we can agree that you want to—need to—win this one.

But this exam is extraordinary. If YOU want to be extraordinary, you need all the edge you can get. You must be proactive to shift the spectrum of average in your favor. You need to say “yes” to things that will have an impact on your eventual success.

You must prepare yourself to be several deviations above the average so that even when you get knocked down a few pegs on game day, you still have a fighting chance.

Take the time to deny, cry, curse, reflect, regroup. Then when you are ready, it’s time to tweak the experiment.

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