Should I Give Up on Passing the Bar Exam?
Failing the bar exam is not a good feeling. And unfortunately for some, the second time isn’t always the charm. Nor the third. Nor the fourth. We’ve even had 6+ time takers come to us for advice. And we want to be clear: there is no shame in failing the bar exam. It is a ridiculously hard test that is in no way a predictive indicator of future success. While we always want to be encouraging and help those who failed the bar exam find the key to passing, we also understand that many eventually hit a point where they question whether they should give up on passing the bar exam. After all, studying for the bar takes a lot out of you physically, emotionally, and financially.
Should I Give Up on Passing the Bar Exam?
So when is enough enough? When is it okay to give up on passing the bar exam? The short answer is that there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone in this circumstance experiences it in their own unique way. For some, it might be worth many attempts. Others might feel the need to stop at some point. If you are considering giving up on passing the bar exam, please know that you are NOT a failure. It does not make you a quitter, it does not make you are a lesser person, and it does not mean you’ve wasted any part of your life. It just might mean that your own personal circumstances dictate that it’s time for you to move on.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic answer on the right time to give up on passing the bar exam. But if it is something you are thinking about, here are some factors to consider.
1. Your Bar Exam Results
If you are considering giving up on passing the bar exam, be sure to give good consideration to your results thus far. If you’ve been very close to passing, that could be a sign that just a bit more work or a tweak in your study habits could push you over the top on your next attempt. But even if you haven’t been all that close to passing, look a little deeper into your results. Do you consistently struggle with one portion, such that getting intensive help on that portion could dramatically boost your score? How have your study habits been? Have you been taking the same approach every exam, yet expecting different results? Perhaps a significant change in your prep approach could result in a score increase. What kind of resources would you personally need to succeed? Maybe you aren’t surrounding yourself with materials that are going to help YOU pass the bar exam.
Take some time to think about how your past attempts have gone and whether there is still room to change and grow. If you’ve worked with someone like a tutor or an academic advisor, sit down with them and share what you’re feeling. Have a discussion about whether there are new things you can try. If you don’t have someone like that to talk to, consider something like our bar exam consultations. One of our bar exam experts would be happy to sit down with you and dissect your previous approaches to the exam. Tell them that you are thinking about giving up on passing the bar exam but want to know if there are still new avenues and study strategies to pursue. At JD Advising, we take pride in our ability to help repeat takers pass the bar. Our strategies are time-tested and truly beneficial for those who need a new approach. Thus, if anyone can help you come up with a plan to push you over that elusive hump, it is one of our experts!
2. Your Professional Life Status
Another thing to consider when deciding whether to give up on passing the bar exam is where you stand in your professional life and what you ultimately want to get out of it. Just having a law degree, even without being licensed in a particular state, can open up many doors professionally. There could be firms out there that have roles for those who went to law school but who aren’t necessarily licensed. Maybe you have a good job right now that allows you to do legal work and your employer doesn’t need you to be licensed. Or maybe there are other JD preferred jobs out there that could meet your desires for a career. There are many pathways out there for someone with a law degree!
But if you have your heart set on something that requires a license, then maybe it isn’t quite time to give up on passing the bar exam. Think about why you went to law school in the first place. Why did you want to go? Have your desires changed? Where do you want to be in 5 years? If there is something else out there that would make you happy without requiring a license, then maybe you have more freedom to give up on passing the bar exam. Or maybe you know you need that license to achieve your goal, and so you still need to do what it takes to pass.
3. Your Personal Life Status
The time and resources you spend studying for the bar exam affect more than just you. If you are unsure whether it is time to give up on passing the bar exam, another thing to think about is what else you have going on in your life. Do you have a family that needs your time and attention? Are there other responsibilities in your life that make it difficult to devote the time you personally need to study? Or perhaps you have people relying on you financially such that you need a specific job with a specific earning capacity? On the other hand, maybe you’ve put off things like starting a family until you passed the exam. Do you want to wait longer? It is always worth remembering that you won’t get these years back, and so you need to make the decisions that are best for you in your personal life as well as your professional life.
Everyone is going to have different answers to all of these questions. Thus, the number of attempts one person makes at passing the bar exam might not make sense for someone else. Deciding whether or not to give up on passing the bar exam is a very personal decision. But no matter what you decide, don’t let the bar exam define you! You are so much more than a score on a standardized test. And you can go on to do great things with or without a passing score.
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