Almost all attorneys can share with you their story of waiting for bar results. So if you are still waiting, I have some tips for surviving the waiting game and dealing with results day.
The Waiting Game
While you are waiting, it is important to try to put the results out of your mind as much as possible. You can drive yourself crazy thinking about what will happen if you pass (or if you don’t). So do what you can to keep perspective and continue to move forward, even while waiting for results.
- If you are working, throw yourself into work (of course while still maintaining some balance). Working helps keep you focused on other things and will also keep you from obsessing while waiting for your results.
- If you aren’t working, make sure you are taking steps to be ready to kick off the job hunt once results come out. Are your resume and cover letter up-to-date? Are you attending networking events? Are you volunteering your time at a legal nonprofit to gain some experience? Are you conducting informational interviews?
- Take care of life-related things. Don’t forget, life doesn’t stop because of the bar exam. So make sure you are still going out, seeing friends, and going on with life. Although this test does feel like the most important thing in your life, it really isn’t. It is just one part of your life.
- Take a moment to think about the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that you will fail. And I hope you don’t, but if you do, life will go on. Even if you are in the situation where you may lose your job if you don’t pass, life will still go on. Most of my tutoring students have already lived through at least one bar failure. And although I don’t wish that experience on anyone, it is not the end of the world. It is not a reflection of how smart you are (I know a lot of smart people who have failed the bar) or of how good an attorney you will be. It is a reflection of what happened on one test over a few days of your life. I don’t want you to have to live through it again, but if you do, it will be okay. I will tell you personally what helped me wait: I promised myself that no matter what I would take that test again. No questions asked. And although I was still anxious and waiting was difficult, that decision made it a bit easier. That was the worst-case scenario. And it wasn’t so bad.
- Be kind to yourself. Stress and anxiety are really hard on your body. Make sure you are eating well, sleeping, exercising, and perhaps even trying some new things like meditation or yoga.
How to Handle Results Day
I will be honest. The week bar exam results came out while I was waiting, I was not exactly calm and collected. I was incredibly worried. I went to the gym at 6:00 a.m. every morning that week to burn off extra nervous energy. I seemed to count down the minutes to the results coming out. The day results came out I left work around noon and my now-husband and I went to see a James Bond movie to kill time. We got home around 5:00 p.m. and there was still another hour to wait. I swear, it felt like time was standing still. By 5:55 p.m., I was standing next to the computer counting the seconds. At 5:59 p.m. I was already typing in my exam number (just in case my clock was slow). It took a few tries but I was able to get through and found out I passed. Phew. After the fact, friends and I talked about the experience and I think there are a few things to consider when checking your scores.
- Decide whether you want to check them alone. I know that I did not want to check my scores alone. I wanted someone with me whether it was good news or bad news. Some law school friends checked it together, some chose to check it with other friends or family. I think checking your results with a support network is a good idea.
- Do something during the day to kill time. Many law firms (if you are working) will allow you to leave early to do something to distract you (like going to a movie). It is a good way to kill time until results are released.
- If you can, make sure you are in a place where you can check the results without tons of distractions. A few years ago I was standing at San Francisco International Airport’s baggage claim at 6:00 p.m. on bar results day. Folks were trying to check their status on their smartphones in baggage claim. They still got good news (I could hear from the screams of excitement), but that would not have been my first choice for a place to check results.
- If you don’t pass, you want to have a plan. Tell a few people close to you, but then decide whether or not you want to go dark until the results are public (many states allow students to get their scores before they are released publicly). Some folks I know just turned off their phones/Facebook/email until they were done grieving and ready to move forward. It is okay to grieve, but you do want to make sure that you don’t indulge too much. You want to pick up and decide what you are going to do next.
- If you do pass, celebrate! You accomplished something great. Go out with your friends and loved ones and get ready to start the next phase of your legal career!
I hope you get good news on results day! Hang in there and good luck with the waiting game.
If you enjoyed this post, check out these additional study tips:
- Bar Study Tip: Need Help Developing a Study Schedule?
- Did You Fail the Bar Exam?
- Bar Study Tips: 13 Things to do Before the Bar Exam
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