The Art of Waiting for Bar Exam Results…
How do You Wait for Bar Exam Results?
There are many different kinds of waiting for bar exam results that generally fall between two extremes:
Extreme 1: Refresh the State Board’s website every two seconds. Some students check the website of their state board of law examiners’ constantly. They are the kind of students that follow our lead and download this annoying page monitor that automatically checks the website every second, chimes whenever it changes, and causes way too many mini-heart attacks. This type of person also has a propensity to annoy their peers and drive everyone crazy (since they won’t stop talking about results!)…but at the same time, everyone loves them, too, because it is well-known that when bar exam results are released, this person will be the first to notify them. It almost takes the pressure off of others to check the site so often.
Extreme #2: Don’t think about results at all. We have some students who don’t know – and don’t want to know – when bar exam results will be released. These students, if they are unconnected enough to social media or do not have many friends that took the bar exam with them, will one day open their mailboxes and find a letter saying they passed or failed. (This actually happened to me!) Some of these students purposely ignore result release dates out of anxiety and fear of getting results. Others, oddly enough (and we know it is hard to believe) actually love this in-between transition period of waiting for results and simply aren’t very eager to get results back.
There are all kinds of in-between approaches that lie within these two extremes. These in-between approaches are probably healthiest. A healthy dose of curiosity that doesn’t quite reach the level of obsession (or dip to the level of complete ignorance) is probably the best way to approach waiting for bar exam results. But even if you are not in the “healthy middle”, we won’t judge :)
What do you do when you are waiting for bar exam results?
It is hard to be in a liminal “in between” place – where you cannot yet apply for attorney jobs, yet don’t want to apply for paralegal jobs. Where you do not know if you’ll be celebrating on the day results are released or crying. Where you are in a high-stress place because of a high-stakes test. And where every other person is asking you if you know your results yet (this is the worst!).
And yet, many of my students find a silver lining – a chance to relax a little bit, maybe plan a post-bar exam vacation. A chance to really put some thought into the future rather than just blindly moving forward. A chance to pause for a minute.
Indeed, this “in between” time is a great time to step back, breathe, and reflect on what you have done — and what you want to do. You are on a forced “break” from moving forward and this provides a unique opportunity to think of what you want your next step to be.
The period in between is also a good idea to update your resume, think about where your life is taking you, and come up with two plans of attack – Plan A and Plan B. Come up with a worst-case scenario plan in case you fail the bar exam (We recommend you read this note to those who fail the bar exam to come up with your Plan B. This is a “Plan B” that may involve time off work, private one-on-one tutoring, or maybe even “skipping” a bar exam before going back to it. You should also create a best-case-scenario plan in case you pass the bar exam (for example, know what jobs you want to apply for and where to look for them). If you have a plan for either scenario, you will not feel so lost after you get results (no matter what the result!). This, in turn, helps to reduce anxiety when you are waiting for bar exam results.
How do you want to check bar exam results?
Besides reflecting on the past and future, coming up with a plan of attack in case you fail the bar exam and in case you pass, another thing you want to consider ahead of time is how you want to check your bar exam results. What is best for you? Do you want to be out in public, or at work (if you are working)? Do you want to be alone or with a family member or law school friend? Do you want to check results the second they are released or wait until the evening or a later time? Do you want to look for your seat number online, if offered in your state, (or open the envelope) yourself or have someone else do it? Everyone is different. and there is no one best way to do it. Figure out what is right for you ahead of time. Tell your close family members and friends what your plan is so that you can have their support during this time period.
Figuring out how to spend your time before results come out, how to check results, and your plan-of-attack for if you pass or fail can relieve some waiting-for-bar-exam-results anxiety. After all, you will not be able to change the score on that paper but you can still plan accordingly to maintain control of the situation, either way. Best of luck to everyone waiting for bar exam results!
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