If you missed part one of our series on whether to study for the bar exam while waiting for results, hop on over and read it. Today, we offer three more scenarios to help you decide whether to start studying sooner rather than later!
Do you have a sinking feeling that you failed?
If you completed all portions of the exam but have an unshakable feeling that you didn’t pass, stop and ask yourself why. If you know deep down that you really didn’t put in the time or effort you needed to study (see below), then trust your instincts and consider going back to square one in September or October, after you have had some time to relax and clear whatever hurdles got in your way last time. There is really no point riding into a new battle if you’re still depleted from the one before. If, though, what your uneasiness boils down to is baseless doubt, then hang in there! Everyone has these moments. The goal is to not let them turn into hours or days—or sweat pants, or eating nothing but cereal.
Try your best to get your mind off the exam. I know it’s hard. Take a day trip, get a new project at work, do something creative, start a workout regimen or catch up on books or correspondence you’ve been putting off. If you think you studied adequately and did your best, there is no reason not to just wait for results with everyone else. If you have to get fired up for this exam again later, then so be it. You can cross that bridge when you get there.
Did you neglect studying because of other unavoidable commitments or circumstances?
Unfortunately, when we are studying for the bar exam, life doesn’t just hit pause. Bosses need memos, spouses and partners need acknowledgement, children need breakfast and bedtime stories, and the house doesn’t clean itself! Also, for some reason, I don’t know about you, but sometimes it seems like clearing your schedule to study for the bar must just start some kind of Murphy’s law-type chain reaction that results in the car getting stolen, a sudden need for emergency surgery, and the landlord selling your building out from under you. As I mentioned above, if you think you failed because of the inability to focus adequate time and effort on your preparation, you should consider starting early.
Further, if you are a breadwinner or in charge of caring for anyone else, carving out study hours was probably difficult last time around and will probably still be difficult now. If this is you, start slowly and add in a few hours each week. Make it part of your regular schedule. If you begin in September and study for just a few hours each week, you could potentially attack plan and write an essay in every bar subject by the time results come out. Banking time now that you know you won’t have later may be a smart strategy for you.
Does the idea of failing terrify you?
Well, the good news is, it terrifies almost everyone else too! No one wants to fail the bar and no one does so on purpose. Even people who fell pretty certain they passed have moments of doubt. This doesn’t mean you need to start cramming now. There’s a difference between well-founded fear and fear for its own sake. Take a minute to ask yourself which type you’re dealing with. Are you are operating based on objective evidence (e.g. I didn’t do either PT) or just plain fear (I can’t face myself—or my family or spouse or boss or whoever—if I fail again, so I better just start studying now!) (see above).
Most of the time, taking action where fear is the only motivating factor is not the most positive use of our time and energy. Especially with something that is already as time-consuming, mentally exhausting and emotionally draining as studying for the bar, it is all too easy to spin into a cyclical negative mindset that turns into the exact opposite of productivity, e.g. haphazardly skimming flash cards while watching a movie. This will get you nowhere. If nothing but fear is driving your decision to study now, there is a huge risk of burning out.
Rather than taking your outlines to the breakfast table, take a mental and physical break, get your mind off the exam entirely and go do something to help yourself relax and recuperate. If that doesn’t work, think about someone else. Spend some time doing volunteer work or helping someone who needs it. Sometimes – and this may seem a little counterintuitive – waiting for bar results can be more difficult than actually earning them.
For most of us law school types, we have gotten where we are through setting goals, organizing our time, and concentrating our efforts. Most of us don’t even know what to do with this much unscheduled time! Goals and planning are thrown into a tailspin when you’re stripped of your purpose and told to just sit still and bide time. This can be especially true if you don’t want to or aren’t able to work during this period. Rest assured, though, results will be out before you know it.
Whether you spend the next few months incorporating studying or not, I hope you all find something besides this exam to fixate on. Even if you have a job currently, your hours and responsibility will undoubtedly change once you get that bar card in your hand. You may never have this kind of freedom again, so try to enjoy it!
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- To Study or Not to Study? When Waiting for Bar Results, That is the Question
- 5 Tips for Studying Now for the February Bar Exam
- Bar Exam Studying: What to do If You Want to Study Now
- Are You Next to Take the Bar Exam? 5 Tips for You!
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