If you do not feel good about the bar exam, you are not alone and it is completely normal! And you can still pass the exam. Feelings very rarely correlate with bar exam results. (We have so many people who are sure they fail, they reserve a spot in one of our courses, and many of them–if not most of them–end up passing the exam!)
You may have left the bar exam feeling one of the following:
- You are anxious because you ran out of time on the essays, performance test portion, or MBE. (This is very common, by the way! Some students miss entire essay questions. Many students miss MBE questions. And the performance tests throw a lot of students off–especially on the most recent bar exam!)
- You are anxious because you had to guess on a lot of MBE questions. (Maybe you even felt like you couldn’t even narrow most questions down to two answer choices.)
- You did not feel very good about the essays, what you wrote, or your preparedness.
- You did not prepare well enough for the MPT portion of the exam. (This is extremely common!)
- You are sure you got an answer wrong on the essay (or MBE, or MPT) based on what you are reading in forums or hearing other people talk about. (FYI: Sometimes the people who confidently explain what they wrote are wrong!)
Even if you feel one, or all, of these things, remember: it is very hard to judge our performance based on feelings! We talk to students who are confident they passed and then they end up failing (or barely passing). And we talk to students who are sure they failed and they end up passing with flying colors. Of course, some students will fail the bar exam. But solely reflecting on how you feel about the bar exam after the exam tends not to be a good indicator of whether you passed or failed.
If you do not feel good about the bar exam, it is important to keep the following in mind:
- First, if you had timing issues, or got an answer wrong, or had to guess on a lot of questions, you are not alone and it does not mean you failed. This is very common!
- Second, you do not need an “A” to pass the bar exam. In most states, you need a D (266/400, for example is a 66.5%). So, keep that in mind! This D is also scaled–meaning, points will be added to your score so you can get this “D”! So even if you know you answered questions incorrectly, that does not mean you won’t pass. You can pass with a much lower score than you may have been happy with in law school!
- A lot of times students feel more anxious post-bar exam than they do after a practice exam because they cannot instantly track their performance. After a practice exam, you may feel anxious but you know pretty shortly after how you performed (e.g., you score your own MBE or look at the essay answers, etc.). This usually quickly relieves anxiety. After the bar exam, you do not have the answer key at your disposal! Thus, anxiety can build and you may feel much worse about the bar exam than your true performance reflects.
- It can actually be a good thing if you feel anxious because it means you spotted the tricky issues and you “know what you don’t know.” Sometimes the most confident bar exam takers do not pass, in large part because they are missing major issues. (Note: if you are confident about the bar exam, it does not mean you will fail. All we are saying is that just like post-bar exam anxiety doesn’t mean a lot in terms of performance, neither does post-bar exam confidence!)
If you still do not feel good about the bar exam, here are a few other resources you can check out.
- We have some great tips in this article about other steps you can take if you are worried after the bar exam.
- We highly recommend you make a “Plan A” (If you pass) and a “Plan B” (what you will do if you do not pass) for the weeks after you pass. We talk more about this in this post, called the Art of Waiting for Bar Exam Results.
- It is also helpful to read this note to those who pass the bar exam and this note to those who fail the bar exam. This can help you keep a good perspective no matter what happens.
Looking for more resources?
If you are afraid you failed and want to reserve a spot in one of our courses, please feel free to contact us and we will tell you more about the options we offer and reserve your spot (which you are not required to use, but some students feel more relaxed knowing it is there if they choose to use it).
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