After months of waiting for results, you get an email delivering you news you didn’t want to hear. You failed the bar exam. When faced with a setback like this, it’s easy and even understandable to be overwhelmed with anxiety. However, you don’t have to go through this alone. At AdaptiBar, we consider ourselves MBE experts, and that covers how to deal with a lower score than you might have wanted. This article will hopefully give you a place to start, and some peace of mind.
Yes, it’s okay to be upset!
In today’s society more than ever before, positivity is encouraged. But sometimes, you just need a little time to grieve. Taking the bar is an expensive, time-consuming, and grueling process. No one wants to go through that again! Telling family members and employers feels like you’re disappointing them and yourself. There’s no buts about it: failing the bar sucks.
The most important reason why you should acknowledge your negative emotions about failing is so you can eventually STOP having those emotions. By pushing down disappointment and anger, you risk prolonging those feelings. How quickly you recover is crucial to your ultimate goals, no matter what those may be. So, pop in your favorite movie, listen to some music, maybe even do a puzzle! Any activity that helps you unwind is a great way to process failing the bar.
No, you are not the only one who failed!
Another easy trap to fall in is thinking you are the only person you know who failed the bar. Friends from school are posting their celebratory pictures declaring their triumph, making those who didn’t pass feel more alone than ever. Odds are, you probably know a couple people who also did not pass the bar.
Even if you don’t know another person who failed, many extremely successful attorneys failed the bar on their first (or even second!) try. Take a look!
- Michelle Obama
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Hillary Clinton
- California Governor Jerry Brown
- John F. Kennedy Jr. (took him 3 times!)
- Justice Benjamin Cardozo
Not a single one of these notable folks let their failure define them, and neither should you.
Yes, you can try again!
A very common myth those who fail the bar exam start believing is that they failed because they just aren’t smart enough. Nothing could be further from the truth. After making it through three years of law school, the odds that you failed because you “just didn’t know the law” are low.
The main reason students fail the bar exam is because they didn’t have the right plan or strategies in place the first time. While this may sound thorny, solving a preparation problem is an issue you can fix, while somehow augmenting your intelligence is something science hasn’t cracked the code on yet.
The first step to figuring out where things went wrong the first time you took the bar is to think about what worked and didn’t work for you while you were studying. Did you find the bar review course you took to reflect how the exam actually looked? Many bar review courses “simulate” their own questions, and a common complaint is that the MBE looks completely different from those simulated questions. If this is a problem you ran into, AdaptiBar can help. Nearly all of our questions are licensed directly from the National Conference of Bar Examiners. With AdaptiBar, you’re getting prepped with material straight from “the source.”
Another way AdaptiBar can help you plan your strategy after you failed the MBE is with the adaptive technology built into the program itself. As you answer questions in the program, the algorithm tracks the subject areas and subtopics you struggle with, so that you can focus more on those questions. This way, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel: we do the work for you, and you can prepare with more confidence.
No, don’t work harder, work smarter!
When you’ve processed your feelings about failing and developed a plan for attacking the MBE that addresses where you went wrong last time, it can feel daunting to actually begin the process of preparing. Many repeat takers actually make things worse for themselves by putting Herculean hours into preparing, completely exhausting themselves far before the next exam date. Take warning: this strategy could hurt you!
By working yourself into burnout, you risk falling back into a cycle of bar exam failure. Exhausting yourself every day because you’re afraid you will fail again is taking valuable mental energy away from meaningful preparation. Remember, how quickly you’re able to pull yourself out of self-loathing after failing is crucial to passing on your next attempt. Slow and steady wins the race, and with AdaptiBar in your back pocket, you can fine-tune your way to MBE success.