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5 Ways to Retain Your Sanity While Waiting for Bar Exam Results

Going crazy at work. Young entrepreneur yelling at his computer and gesturing like crazy
By Laura Temme, Esq. | Last updated on

One week out from the bar exam, those just returning from their post-exam vacations might find themselves wondering, “Now what?” Many people, including the family and friends of those who take the bar exam, don’t realize that there are literally months of waiting between sitting for the test and getting the results. After all the studying, and the practice exams, and the stress, there’s nothing to do now but wait.

Just taking the exam is an accomplishment in itself. Exceptionally few people choose to go to law school. Some don’t make it through to graduation. Others give up partway through bar prep. If you made it to exam day and through those hours of mental torture – in many ways, you’ve already won.

Here are a few other tips to keep yourself sane while you’re waiting for the results.

1. Enjoy what remains of the summer!

The first day of autumn isn’t until September, so there’s still plenty of time to enjoy all your favorite summer activities. Now that you’re no longer studying 10-12 hours a day take some time to get outside.

2. Don’t post-mortem the exam

After spending so much time prepping, it’s easy to get in a loop of replaying the exam’s questions over and over again. Do your best to put the exam out of your mind – at this point, there’s nothing more you can do. If it helps, make a pact with your friends from law school not to talk about the questions.

3. Think about your career goals

People are quick to put those who go to law school in a box, career-wise. However, law degrees can take a person in many different directions. Taking the bar exam doesn’t necessarily mean you must practice law, even if you pass.

Take some time after the exam to think about what you want out of a job post-law school. Do you want a flexible schedule? Are there other projects or activities you wish to spend time on outside of work? Is there a particular legal niche you want to explore? Now is the time to update your resume and put serious thought into what line of work will suit the life you want.

4. Figure out a “Plan B”

Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense. In this case, one of the best ways to defend against stress over exam results is to decide what you will do if you don’t pass. Putting yourself in a position where you won’t have the rug pulled out from under you by a non-passing score can help put your mind at ease.

5. Remember: If you didn’t pass, you’re in good company

Falling short of a passing score the first time around does not mean you’re a failure. In fact, many famous and successful people in history failed their first bar exam – including First Lady Michelle Obama, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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