I Failed the Bar Exam…Now What?!

By May 22, 2015 February 27th, 2023 No Comments

After failing the bar exam, it’s normal to feel discouraged, disappointed, and perhaps a bit confused about your next steps. Well, look no further for answers. Use these 6 tips as a guide to help you move forward and maintain a positive outlook in the days ahead.

  1. Take a (Short) Break – Before making any sudden decisions about your future plans, it is important to first give yourself some time to process your results and think of things that don’t relate to the bar exam. In fact, taking a day or two off from your daily responsibilities to participate in relaxing activities that you enjoy can benefit your overall physical, mental, and emotional health. Once you have taken this time, however, be ready to learn from your mistakes rather than dwelling on them.
  1. Seek Support – As hard as it may be to inform your family and friends that you did not pass the bar exam, it is much harder to maintain a positive outlook without their support. Whether it’s advice or a relaxing night out, don’t be afraid to ask for whatever it is you may need to get through this difficult time. No matter the circumstances, those who care about you will always be your biggest fans and provide you with the understanding and encouragement you need to continue striving to achieve your goals.
  1. Commit to Re-Taking the ExamWhat originally inspired you to become a lawyer? Remind yourself of the answer to this question, then commit to re-taking the bar exam. Just because you didn’t pass the bar this time doesn’t mean that you never will! Don’t allow one bad outcome to alter your career goals, but instead use your score as further motivation to pass the next time around.


  1. Contact Your Employer – If you had a job lined up, it is essential to inform your boss that you did not pass the bar exam, as soon as possible, so that you do not keep them waiting for your results. While it is impossible to determine exactly how your employer will respond to your situation, delivering the news in a regretful yet appreciative manner will ensure that you establish a long-lasting relationship with the firm without burning bridges.


  1. Evaluate Your Weaknesses – Identifying what went wrong before or during the exam to negatively impact your score is the best way to increase your chances of passing the next time around. Begin by comparing the results of your essays with your MBE score to evaluate if there was a significant difference in performance between the two. Then, assess whether or not there were any situational circumstances that may have negatively impacted your testing ability or concentration. For example, did you sleep well the night before the exam, or did anxiety prevent you from fully relaxing? Once you have made these determinations, make corrections to your bar preparation method accordingly.
  1. Look at the Big Picture –Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt all failed the bar exam at some point in their lives. Yet, we do not recognize these prominent figures by their failures, but their successes. Focus on your long-term aspirations rather than your short-term goal of passing the bar exam to put your circumstances in greater perspective. When you do, you will realize that failing the bar exam is merely a small hurdle in your lifetime that you will undoubtedly overcome with further dedication and perseverance.

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