Stress over bar exam results is at a high right after students take the bar exam, then it seems to calm down a bit until a few days or weeks before bar exam results are released — when it increases yet again, sometimes dramatically.
This bar exam stress is heightened when states do not tell examinees the exact date or time of the results release. You do not know if it will be while you are at work, or at home. You do not know who you will be with when you get the “official” results or what time of day that will be.
A lot of people also have no idea what they will do if they fail – or if they pass. This increases stress and anxiety.
We have had many students call us or email us in the past few weeks, wondering what they can do to help avoid or reduce stressing over bar exam results before they are released. In this post, we outline five ways to avoid stressing over bar exam results before they are released.
Five Ways to Avoid Worrying About Bar Exam Results Before they Are Released:
1. If you still have a while before bar exam results come out, take time to do things you probably haven’t had much time to do.
Spend time with relatives you didn’t get to see in law school or while you were studying for the bar exam. Relax. Travel if possible. Usually, getting back to “real life” can help orient you and reduce any post-bar exam stress. It can also help you see that the test is just a test. It is true it is an important test, but in the end it is something you can retake and conquer if need be.
2. If possible, stop analyzing the exam.
Someone posted this quote on Instagram, “It is what it is. It was what it was. It will be what it will be.” That is all true. And you will handle it no matter what happens. No need to continuously think about what you wrote or didn’t write or what question you answered correctly or didn’t answer correctly, or what will happen or won’t happen. It is out of your hands. There can be anxiety in this feeling of the “unknown” but there is also freedom in it since your ability to control it is over. You can stop focusing on it and you can move on to focusing on things you can control — i.e. anxiety triggers (which we talk about next, in Step 3, below), or your plans for if you pass or fail, (which we talk about in Step 5!).
3. Identify what triggers your anxiety.
Ask yourself, “when do I feel the most anxious?” Is it your relatives asking you when results will be out? Or your friends talking about what they wrote for that Trusts question? Or is it seeing people constantly talk about it on Facebook? Once you’ve identified your triggers, identify ways to eliminate the triggers or reduce anxiety. For example, tell your relatives to stop asking you when results are coming out! Realize that they mean well, but sometimes merely being asked increases pressure and anxiety. Tell your friends that you want to move on from talking about bar exam essays. Stop checking Facebook as frequently. Do whatever you need to do to avoid or eliminate triggers.
4. Make a plan the short-term.
Plan out the day you get bar exam results. How do you want to check your results? At work or at home? Do you want to check them the second they are available or do you want to wait a few hours or a few days? Do you want to check them with your mom or boyfriend or girlfriend or by yourself? What will you do if you pass or fail? Who will you spend time with? Will you go out to dinner? Will you meet a support group? (Please call us if you need extra support! We are happy to talk to you.)
5. Plan for the long-term.
We highly recommend you make a “Plan A” (If you pass) and a “Plan B” (what you will do if you do not pass) for the weeks after you pass. We talk more about this in this post, called the Art of Waiting for Bar Exam Results. If you have a general plan for both potential outcomes, you will not feel as lost. or as anxious It sounds silly, but some people are more overwhelmed when they pass and have to start looking for “real jobs” in the “real world.” Having an idea of the jobs you will look for or contacts you will reach out to will be helpful. Also come up with a “Plan B” if you fail. Who is your support group? Will you seek tutoring? Or take time off work? Or will you take a bar exam “off.” You might not know exactly, but having resources at your disposal will be extremely helpful to you. We recommend you write out your Plan A and Plan B on a piece of paper. Writing it out helps it make it concrete and it helps make both outcomes bearable and manageable.
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