Failing the Bar Exam: 5 Important Things to Remember & Lessons Learned – by Someone Who Failed the Bar Exam
Note to reader: The author of this guest post failed the bar exam. The author shares their five most important lessons learned from failing the bar exam:
There are either two outcomes for students who take the bar exam. They will either pass or fail it. If you happen to have failed the bar I hope you realize that this particular failure will not destroy you. Failure matures you. Failure has the ability to shatter hope. However, failure can also help an individual to re-piece his or her identity. By embracing failure, and accepting it as a part of life, one can became lighter, stronger, and wiser. When we fail, especially at something we tried exceptionally hard to achieve, it feels like a small death. However, this small death can give rise to new growth and new life. Thus, we must learn from our failures in order to grow.
Failing the Bar Exam: 5 Things to Remember and 5 Lessons Learned
Failure is necessary for growth.
Albert Einstein once said, “failure is success in progress.” We should not think of our failure as an “end all be all”, but rather as an obstacle on the road to success. Failure humbles us. Humility has nothing to do with inadequacy, just like how arrogance is not a testament of greatness. Humility allows for self-realization. It helps keep our egos in check, and reminds us of our humanness; that we are all capable of making mistakes.
When you fail, you open yourself up to truth. You have to be honest with yourself, and take a look at areas where you could have improved your study skills or habits. Perhaps you faced unique roadblocks or distractions while you prepared for the exam. After failing the bar exam, you now can take a look at where your weaknesses lie and work on improving them.
If you happen to fail, your mind may give rise to many concerns such as:
“I don’t want to go through the hell of studying for this exam again”, and/or
“I’m so embarrassed. “
Studying for the bar exam pushes you to your limits. It drains an individual physically, emotionally, and mentally. You may be thinking, “How am I going to through that again? How am I going to face my friends, colleagues, and family?” You may not want to log onto social media because your feed will most likely be flooded with statuses of your classmates sharing their good news. If you have failed the bar exam, I understand that this event will give rise to feelings of sadness and defeat. I assure you though, that this feeling is only temporary! You can and will be able to move on from this event.
Once you pass the bar exam, this particular failure will be insignificant. It is important that you will be able to use this setback as an opportunity to learn some very important life lessons.
Listed below are a few important things to remember as well as lessons learned, if you have failed the bar exam. Hopefully they that will help keep things in perspective!
1. Remember, that it’s OK to feel bad.
Many people experience different kinds of heartache in life.. We all have moments where life knocks us down. For a law student, that has dedicated three years of his or her life studying and preparing for the most important exam of their life, failing the bar exam is one of those moments.
Releasing your emotions is cathartic. So, scream, cry, punch a pillow. Do something (healthy) to let out your sadness, and then vow to not let this one unfortunate circumstance dictate your emotions. Allow yourself ONE day to feel sad. Make a promise to yourself not to dwell on past disappointments, but to focus on the future instead.
Lesson learned: Let it all out, and then let it all go.
2. Remember, that you are not defined by your failures.
Failing the bar exam is a humiliating experience for many. You may be wondering, “How will I face people? Surely they would wonder whether or not I passed or failed. What will I say?”
Yes, people may hear or ask if you passed or failed but they are not dwelling on it or talking about it incessantly. What is important to keep in mind, is that no one really cares if you pass or fail. They are not going to think you are any less intelligent or capable. I can reassure you, that most people are concerned with themselves. They too were afraid of failing the bar exam. Any law student can fail the bar exam. So, be assured that even if it does happen to you, it will not define you or destroy you. Your failure is not a reflection of who you are or what you are capable of achieving. So, who cares what any one else thinks? By choosing to accept failure, and embracing it, profound growth becomes a possibility and a reality.
Lesson learned: Failure will either strengthen or weaken you; it’s entirely up to you.
3. Remember, do things to make you feel good.
I know that falling into a state of misery is an easy outlet during this time. You may be pondering the prospect of completely isolating yourself, by shutting out friends and family. This approach, though, is counterproductive and useless. Instead, attempt to be as positive as possible. Focus on participating in activities that make you happy.
If you fail the bar exam–accept that it happened, realize that it is now in the past, and let go of it. Move on and embrace all the other amazing things that exist in your life. Exercise, pray, eat healthy, spend time with friends and family, and get enough sleep. Doing things that make you feel good after failing the bar is crucial for your mental health. Negative thoughts will only be an ineffective obstacle when gearing up for the next exam.
Lesson learned: Don’t allow yourself to wallow in self-pity. Get up, do good, feel good, and smile!
4. Remember, to maintain a good network of support.
Do not be afraid to talk to people close to you about this experience. You may be anxious to talk to people or tell them about failing the bar exam because you may think that they will judge you or react harshly.
What you may be surprised to discover is that people whom you share your failures with can be extremely compassionate, encouraging, and understanding. You will come to find, who your true friends are. These will be the individuals who will be able to stand by you through successes and failures.
Lesson learned: By allowing yourself to maintain good relationships, you allow positivity to constantly flow into your life.
5. Remember, you are not the first, or the last person to fail.
- Thomas Edison was told by his teachers he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’.
- Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.”
- Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
- K. Rowling was a single mom living off welfare when she began writing the first “Harry Potter” novel.
What does this demonstrate? That failure does not determine whether or not you will be successful in the future. These individuals experienced defeat, and did not give up. They kept on moving towards their goals despite setbacks. Failure is an event. It is not who you are. If you failed, that does not mean that you are not a failure. Some of the world’s most successful people have experienced failure. (Here’s our list of famous people who have failed the bar, in case you are curious!)
Failure does not always have to be a negative thing. Failure can demonstrate just how resilient a person can be. It also demonstrates humility, perseverance, and allows for introspection. It strengthens us. Do not allow failure to cripple you. Instead, allow it to propel you towards success. Think of your failure as a new beginning to something wonderful.
Lesson learned: The experience of failing at something is transformative and allows for incredible growth.
So if you failed the bar exam, do not be discouraged. Do not give up. Keep on working at improving until you succeed. The journey that you face after failure will mold you into a better person. Set out a plan of action for achieving your goal of passing, and you will see that recovering from this setback is possible. You may also be thankful for this failure because it opens up the possibilities for greater understanding and knowledge.
Lastly, remember this one, tiny, and (soon to be insignificant!) failure is just a roadblock on your journey toward success. Victory is on the horizon so don’t lose hope! Have faith in yourself, and your abilities! This failure will be a catalyst to accelerate the necessary.
This post was written by a guest author who failed–and has since passed–the bar exam.
Want to share your own story about failing the bar–and be eligible to win $1,000?
Check out our JD Advising scholarship here. It is for anyone who has ever failed the bar exam (even if you have since passed it!)
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