Most people walk into the bar exam hoping that they will feel “good” after the bar exam. They want to enjoy their post-bar exam vacations, or celebrations or time off. Or they just want to go back to work feeling confident they will not have to take the bar exam again.
Unfortunately, this is not how most people feel!
How Will I Feel After The Bar Exam?
It is more realistic that you will feel the following emotions after the bar exam:
- Anxious you failed
- Angry at yourself for forgetting to say something you wish you would have said on the essay
- Upset about one or more of the questions
- Focusing on the questions you did not know
- Overly worried about what others wrote in comparison to you
Why will you feel this way after the bar exam?
- Because the bar exam is hard! And there will be a lot you don’t know. (But remember, you need a grade of “D” to pass the bar exam, not an “A”!) You are probably used to “knowing more” for an exam — even a law school exam!
- Because after an exam we have a tendency to focus on what we didn’t know, rather than what we did know. We don’t tend to say “Wow, I nailed that Crim Law question!” Instead, we say, “What in the world was that Property question about?” We naturally focus on what we are uncertain about.
- Because people talk about the exam. And inevitably, they wrote about something or spotted an issue that you didn’t. (This doesn’t mean they are right by the way. Some of the most confident people are the most wrong in their analysis. In past years, we had a whole group of people upset at themselves for failing to talk about a 14th Amendment issue for a Constitutional Law essay question. Guess what? The 14th Amendment wasn’t even being tested on that particular exam so everyone was anxious for no reason!)
Why are we telling you that you will feel this way after the bar exam?
- Because we want you to know it is normal. Almost everyone feels anxious about passing after the bar exam.
- Also, we want you to know that it does not mean you failed! Feelings post-bar exam hardly ever correlate with results! Some of our highest-scoring students are the most worried about passing. And some of our lower-scoring students are the most confident! Neither is an indication of certain success or failure.
- Lastly, it is actually good if you feel anxious. It is good because it means that you spotted issues, you knew enough law to know when you were unsure of something, and you have a healthy level of anxiety as a result.
So what should you do after the bar exam if you feel super anxious?
- Most students really worry about results right after the bar exam and think about them constantly for a few days to a week. Then, the farther the bar exam is from them, the less they think about results. They go on with their lives. Then, as results day nears, they start to get really anxious again! It is an ebb and flow of anxiety and worry. And it is totally normal!
If you find yourself very anxious after the bar exam and you find you cannot stop thinking about results:
- Allow yourself to stop thinking about what you didn’t know or what you wish you said. Allow yourself to let it go. This also means you will stop talking to others about what they wrote!
- Remind yourself, no matter the result, pass or fail, you will deal with it then. Worrying about it will not change one. Single. Thing.
We have some great tips in this article about other steps you can take if you are worried after the bar exam.
If you are really anxious you are welcome to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will tell you if what you are feeling is normal! You can also seek professional help if you cannot get anxiety under control!
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