So You Failed The Bar: 5 Things To Keep In Mind

By Betty Wang, JD on October 31, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

So, you failed the bar and life sucks right now. As bar results continue to trickle in, with New York's bar results just coming in a couple days ago and California's about to roll out next month, many anxious new grads are awaiting (read: dreading) their fate.

Unfortunately, someone's going to fail. Statistically, this is impossible to avoid. Actually, it's just impossible to avoid in general because the bar is a beast. As they say, if it was easy, everyone would do it. So, for those of you who already got the bad news, or for those of you bracing for it, here are 5 things to keep in mind.

  1. It's okay to cry. We are not being facetious. No matter how much you prepared, the feeling of disappointment is still bound to wash over you. You've worked insanely hard to take this test, and of course failing it is going to smart a little. Mourn, let it all out, call up a good friend or your mom and just dive into the nearest shoulder to cry onto. There's been a lot of pent up anxiety, a lot of different emotions, and a lot of anticipation leading up to this moment and it's healthy to let it all out before you forge on.
  2. This is not a reflection of you. Nobody is judging you. Everyone who's been in your shoes knows the excruciating process that bar-study and bar-preparation is, and everyone at one point or another expects to fail. Some people just aren't good test takers, or, maybe you were off your game that day, or you didn't prepare the right way. Whatever the reasons are for you failing, it doesn't mean that you aren't capable. It certainly doesn't mean that you aren't smart enough to pass it (hey, you survived 1L). It just means that the test sucks is all.
  3. You'll need to figure out your game plan. You'll need to figure out your game plan as soon as possible. The next bar exam is only a few months away, and you'll want to give yourself ample time to study and prepare for it. Even if you decide that you don't want to take it again, you should make some decisions soon, before you miss any deadlines.
  4. It's not the end of the world. While it may feel hopeless and depressing (valid, of course), failing is not the end of the world. In fact, it may force you to reassess what you want to do, how much you want a legal career ... or how much you don't. Try to keep a good perspective on things -- remember all the good things that you still have going for you. Your looks, your charm, your health, that great JD you still have, etc.
  5. You have plenty of other options. If you decide that this was your final attempt at taking the bar and just don't want to do it again, this is okay. You still have plenty of other options -- amazing, brilliant people have failed the bar, and gone on to have wonderful careers. Having a law degree, despite what the economy wants to lead you to believe, is still invaluable and can open many other doors for you.

Chin up -- if you survived law school, you can definitely survive this.

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