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Failed the Bar Exam: Pass this February

You did not pass the July bar.  You are facing this crazy reality that you have to retake the exam.  But it still feels like a bad dream.   The feelings are coming at you like internal arrows:  anger, sadness, frustration, defeat.  “Why me?” you want to shout.  

How to cope.  First, know that you are not alone.  And, in the next months you will need to get reliable help from supportive people: a bar coach, a trusted law professor, a true friend, someone else who did not pass, and your bar review.  Second, get the negative emotions out now.  Express whatever you are feeling in a safe place, now, before Thanksgiving.     

This coming week will be hard, don’t kid yourself, especially if you are going to a Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends nearby.  Prepare yourself.   Know what you will say when people start in with the “Too bad you didn’t pass.” Prepare specific lines to “keep in your back pocket” to excuse yourself from conversations you do not want to have such as:

  • “Thank you for your concern.  You are right; the results were not as I had hoped. I am preparing a different strategy for the next exam ,and it’s important now for me to focus on the positives.  We can talk more about this in next spring. n How are you doing? 

Or, the shorter variation

  • Let’s talk about you.  How are you?

You do not owe anyone an explanation.  You don’t have to excuse yourself or apologize for yourself.  You don’t even have to answer comments/questions about the bar exam. And, you certainly must not spend one minute thinking less of yourself.

So, eat, drink, and go through your anger and frustration this week.  Then, after Thanksgiving, get up, brush yourself off, and get ready to pass this next bar exam, using the past experience as a learning tool.

Allow yourself this week to acknowledge sadness and disappointment, and whatever else you feel.  Then, like the stages one moves through in grieving (but faster), move on to a place where you can turn all of these negative emotions into fierce determination to pass the next bar exam. 

Failing the bar exam is a mere bump in the road to success.  Make that bump smaller and smaller each day by working toward becoming stronger and more prepared each day to pass next Exam. 

You are still on that  road of accomplishment, the road to great success, that you set out on by going to law school in the first place.  No one and nothing can take that away from you.

Decide today, that you will move forward, as an even wiser and stronger and more prepared person than you have ever been!

And, don’t forget to reach out when you are ready –to reliable academics who can help you.  Determine where you need to shift your strategy: MBEs, Essays, certain subjects, performance tests, time management,  all of the above?  Where do you need “strength training”?

Whatever else you may be thinking, keep this the closest: you are not defeated. You have experienced a bump in the road, a mere bump, a blip, but you are still moving forward, slowly and steadily on the great road to long-range success!  

Hang in, and stay determined.  Do not let this slip derail you. You deserve better.

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Happy July 4th, Bar Exam Takers!

Take the day off, if you want.  Yes, that’s right, entirely off.  It’s ok to take a full day’s break at certain points in bar review, and this is one of those days.

If you need to re-charge your batteries (and everyone does around now), and you are able to relax for a full day off, take off today.  You have earned it!

Others of you are too nervous to take a full day off.  Leaving the books may stress you out more than it helps. That is perfectly normal.  Do not think you are odd.  Over the years, I would say at least half my students work on July 4th and that’s what they have decided is in their best interests.  If that is you, a compromise is to study half the day and take off the afternoon/evening for a barbecue, food and fun, drinks and fireworks.

You may want the evening off, but prefer to watch fireworks on TV, curling up on your own couch, with your favorite food and drink.  All good.  If you don’t want to socialize, do not feel obligated.  People inevitably ask how bar review is going and you may not want to get into it.  On the other hand, you may have friends and family who are supportive and hanging out with them for the evening reminds you that at the end of the day, this is just a test.  And, it will be over in August.  You are in the home stretches, and there is a world going on out there that you just are taking a long study break from.  It can help to know that they will still be there when you are done studying.

Whatever you do today, treat yourself well.  Today is a day to reflect on how much you have learned and how hard you have worked, and to pat yourself on the back a bit.  Enjoying today in whatever way best works for you will make you more motivated to learn tomorrow, and then next day, and the next.  And, that’s what it’s all about.

You still have another several weeks to work steadily and learn and hone your skills.  You still have plenty of time. (Think about how much you learned in just a few days before some of your final exams.)

This July is your bar exam to pass.  You can do this!   Know it and believe it.

Happy 4th of July!!




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Favorite Study Snacks?

What is the favorite law school study snack? Coffee undoubtedly, anything with caffeine. Chocolate’s probably a close second –caffeine and sugar.

What do you snack on while studying?

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