Waiting for Bar Exam Results: The Do’s and Don’ts
Waiting for bar exam results can be stressful. But, there are ways to reduce stress and make your time productive and fulfilling! Here, we are going to discuss the top three do’s and don’ts of waiting for bar exam results!
DO come up with a plan for checking results.
The first thing you should do is figure out exactly how you want to check results. Most jurisdictions release results online or via email. (Some jurisdictions tell examinees the exact date to expect results; while others keep it a surprise and simply release them whenever they are ready). It is good to have a plan in place regardless of which approach your jurisdiction uses.
Some questions to consider are:
- Where do you want to check results? (For example, maybe you don’t want to check them at work!)
- When do you want to check results? Do you want to check them immediately or wait (e.g. until the weekend)?
- Who do you want to check results with? Some people want a family member or significant other to be with them when they check results.
- What do you want to do after checking results? See the next step below!
DO figure out your “Plan A” if you pass and your “Plan B” if you do not pass.
A lot of examinees forget to do this! Not having a plan causes anxiety, especially leading up to the day bar exam results are released. We recommend you come up with a Plan A and a Plan B.
Your Plan A–what to do if you pass the bar exam–will include something like:
- Updating your LinkedIn profile
- Sending your resume to potential employers (you can make a list now and even start networking now!)
- Preparing for the next stage of your career. This could include decluttering your law books, cleaning out your desk, and physically/mentally moving on from the “student” stage of your life.
It may sound silly to have a Plan A but the thought of passing the bar exam scares some examinees as much as the thought of failing the bar exam.
Plan B is the plan you make in case you fail the bar exam. Your Plan B will likely come into place if you start thinking about the following questions:
- What changes will I make to my study routine? For example, if you took a bar review course, rewatching the exact same course again probably will not lead to success. (Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is not wise!) Instead, consider: will I take a different course? will I use different resources (e.g., released MBE questions)? will I get a tutor? Consider options you will explore now.
- What changes will I make to my routine otherwise? For example, should you prepare to take time off work? Should you plan to start studying earlier than before (i.e., if you started studying two months prior to the last bar exam, consider three months instead).
A lot of your “Plan B” will depend on your specific circumstances (your bar exam score, how many times you have taken the bar exam, whether it is a “high stakes” exam for you, etc.). But, you can start coming up with ideas now.
Coming up with a “Plan A” and a “Plan B” helps relieve the anxiety of waiting for results. Whether good or bad, you will have a plan in place!
Some people resist coming up with a Plan A (because they don’t want to get too hopeful) or a Plan B (because they don’t want to “jinx themselves”). But, we find that having a Plan A and a Plan B is actually very prudent. And spending just a few minutes to consider both options relieves a significant amount of anxiety!
DO whatever you were wishing you had time for when you studied…
Wish you got into that exercise routine? Wish you connected more with potential employers? Wish you had time to watch some more shows on Netflix? Now is the time! Take the time you wish you had before and use it wisely!
DON’T keep talking about/reading about/obsessing over the exam.
The exam is OVER now. That means it is time to move on. If you find yourself calling all of your friends that took the exam, going on every bar exam forum possible, and constantly trying to figure out if you wrote the “right” thing or filled in the correct bubble, it is time to stop! You cannot change your answers. So, at this point, it really doesn’t matter what you wrote (or didn’t write).
It is natural to do this a little bit after the exam. But if you are still doing this weeks later, put an end to it.
The last thing to keep in mind on this point is that some examinees confidently say, for example, that the Contracts question tested XYZ. And then, everyone believes them. We’ve had entire groups of examinees convince themselves that certain concepts were tested, when in fact they were not! So take what other test-takers say with a grain of salt — no matter how confident they may be!
DON’T post substantive questions online in discussion forums.
Many states prohibit this. The NCBE (which administers the MBE, MEE, and MPT) also prohibits substantively discussing the exam. The NCBE staff will go on discussion forums and can get you in trouble if they see you discussing the actual questions that were tested on your exam. (Also, see the previous note above — it is useless to engage in this discussion anyway!)
DON’T forget to reflect on what you want!
Post-bar exam, some examinees get so busy either thinking about the exam or trying to distract themselves from it, that they forget to actually take time to reflect on what they want in a legal career.
Do you have a certain purpose you want to fulfill? Are you passionate about a certain cause?
Do you have a certain lifestyle you want to create for yourself? (For example, do you want a flexible schedule? To make a lot of money?)
Being in this liminal “in between” stage (not a student and not yet a lawyer) can be difficult. But there is a great advantage too. You have a period of time to reflect on what you really want in work and in life.
Good luck to everyone waiting for bar exam results!
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