It’s finally over! You finished the bar exam. Take a deep breath and savor the feeling of completing what will hopefully be the last test you ever take. If you gave bar preparation your all, you’re probably feeling a little (okay, a lot) of burnout right now. After devoting countless hours, days, and weeks to bar prep, you may also be wondering what you’re supposed to do with all of your free time now that you don’t need to study. With the exam over and done, it’s time to step out of the bar exam bubble and re-enter the real world, but what should you do first? Here a few suggestion of some things you may want to accomplish as you wait for results over the next few weeks.
1. Do NOTHING!
Your first priority upon finishing the bar exam should be to do absolutely nothing! Rest, relax, sleep in, and enjoy knowing that you don’ have to get up tomorrow and complete practice multiple choice questions!
2. Have Some Fun
Once you’ve sufficiently recovered from the mental marathon that makes up the bar exam, try to take some time to do something fun. There are likely chores and responsibilities that you neglected while studying, but don’t feel guilty about putting these tasks off for just a little longer. No matter how you’re feeling about your odds of passing the exam, you deserve to do something enjoyable for yourself after making it through the relentless grind of bar prep. Many people will try to plan a vacation immediately after taking the bar, but you don’t necessarily have to do anything expensive or elaborate. Devoting a few days, a weekend, or whatever time you can spare to a fun activity that you weren’t able to do while you were studying can be a sufficient reward for all your hard work. Take some time for yourself – you earned it!
3. Show Your Appreciation
Now that you’ve had a chance to rest and recharge, be sure to show your appreciation to the people who supported you throughout the process. It won’t take much time or effort on your part, but it will be incredibly meaningful to those to whom you reach out. If your employer gave you time off to study, write them a thank you note explaining how much of a difference it made. If a partner picked up the slack around the house, treat them to something special as a way of acknowledging their help. If a professor at your school mentored you through the process, pay a visit to their office to express your gratitude. Simply saying a heartfelt “thank you” to anyone who supported or encouraged you will let them know that they are appreciated.
4. Start to Think About the Next Step
Most likely, the bar exam was just one step towards achieving a larger personal goal, and, now that it’s over, you need to turn your attention to the next step in the journey. What exactly the next step entails will vary depending on your specific situation and goals. If you have already secured a job, you will likely need to focus on putting in long hours and making a good impression on your new employer. If you’re not employed, the next step may involve throwing all of your energy into the job hunt. For others, planning a wedding, starting a family, or relocating may be the next big step requiring your attention. If you’re not feeling particularly confident about passing the exam, you may be contemplating whether you need to start studying for the next administration. Whatever the next step may be, you have to muster the motivation and focus to start moving in that direction.
5. Develop Strategies to Manage the Waiting Game
Let’s not sugarcoat it: waiting for bar exam results to be released is agonizing. But you won’t be very productive (or happy, for that matter) if you spend the next few months anxiously waiting to see if you passed. To help you manage the anxiety that accompanies the waiting game, you need to develop some coping strategies. Whether it’s practicing mindfulness, reassuring yourself by reading stories about highly successful people who failed the exam, or just finding a way to compartmentalize that aspect of your life, focus on what works for you. Worrying will make no difference to your score, so you need to find a way to avoid giving in to negative thoughts and anxiety.
It’s not always easy to get into the swing of normal life after completing a huge undertaking like the bar exam. To the extent you can, ease back into your responsibilities and definitely give yourself permission to feel at least a little proud of what you have accomplished.
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