It might not be in these words, but those who learn tonight that they failed the bar exam may well feel not just like the proverbial rug was pulled out from under them, but that the entire world has turned upside down. Too many times, I have heard, “I just found out that I failed the Bar Exam. I am devastated. All that work for nothing. I don’t see how I can pick up and go on and do that [expletive] thing again.”
Know that you are not alone. You have friends, family, and significant others who love you and support you, and think just as highly of you today as they did yesterday. They were and are still your team, and they will not abandon you.
Also know that your frustration, sadness, and anger is completely understandable. You worked hard in law school. You prepared hard for this exam, maybe harder than on anything else in your life. And, it did not turn out as you expected. The result is that you have another mountain ahead of you to climb. Anyone who says, “No worries” or “No big deal” just doesn’t get it. It is a big deal, and you likely are worried.
But you can climb that mountain. And, you will. You will need a while to heal, to go through the stages of grief, and then to get the reliable information you need to figure out what contributed to your missing last time and how to get you where you need to be next bar exam. But just like you got up as a child when you fell and learned to walk and even run, so too will you pick yourself up from this experience, learn what you need, and soar to heights you cannot begin to even imagine now in your future careers.
And, believe it or not, (lemons to lemonade and all that) there are even some advantages you have as a repeat taker, that when you are ready to see them will become clear:
• Your effort is not all for nothing. The harder you worked before, the easier it should be to pass the next time you take the exam. While you may feel that you forgot some (or even many) of the rules, you did not forget what you learned but merely what you memorized.
• You likely won’t be as nervous as students going in for the first time. You know what to expect. “Been there, done that.” Use your relative comfort level as an edge and try to remember just how worried everyone around you really is. Stay calm and focused. You want this, and you can do it.
• You can make a thoughtful plan as to how to improve. You will have raw data – the scores from your past exam(s) to tell you what you have to work on. Aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can tailor your studies for success.
So, let yourself have the time you need this weekend to grieve. Next week, get going. Go out and get on the path to success for this next bar exam. The next bar exam is yours to pass.