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Q&A With Prior Bar Examinees: Combatting Feelings of Isolation When You Are A Repeat Taker

Taking the bar exam can be an isolating experience, but it can even feel more isolating when you’re a repeat taker. You’re likely studying completely online, and you’re farther removed from law school. I sat down (via zoom) with some prior students of mine who were unsuccessful on their first attempt of the exam, but were successful on a later attempt. You can learn a lot from these prior bar examinees, so let’s look at what advice they have.

Q: Why do you think you were unsuccessful on the bar exam the first time around?

A: The first time I wasn’t studying correctly and I had distractions going on at the time. Simply watching the videos, taking notes, and answering questions was not enough.

A: I barely practiced any essays and I didn’t study enough with my MBE questions. I never saw an increase in my MBE score and I ignored it. I kept doing the same stuff, and in hindsight, I should have fixed what was broken and changed it up.

Q: How did you feel when you failed the bar exam, and how did you overcome those feelings?

A: I cried. I cried a lot. I went through a lot of emotions at once: I was angry, I was sad, I wanted to find another profession. I thought I was stupid. Then, I let a few days pass. I reflected a lot and those negative feelings washed away. I got the support of my family, my friends, and professors at school. My support system definitely helped me overcome all of my negative feelings.

A: I was upset, but I wasn’t completely surprised. I studied so much, but I struggled. I knew I needed to increase my MBE score more and work on my essays, so I tried to feel determined instead of sad. I made a list of everything I needed to do better, and made a study plan to try to do that. I kept thinking – this is a game, and I just need to beat the game.

Q: Did you feel lonely when you were studying? How did you deal with feelings of isolation that come with studying for the bar exam?

A: I felt really lonely and depressed at first. All of my close friends from law school passed the exam, so I was the only one in our friend group studying. So, it made me feel like I was more alone than before. However, I had two friends that I confided in and talked to about the bar exam, so it made me feel much less alone. I also made sure I hung out and spent time with my family one day a week, so it gave me something to look forward to. I would always suggest picking someone you trust to confide in.

A: It is pretty isolating, but I got together with some other people who I knew didn’t pass the exam. I wasn’t close with them in law school, but it was nice to have people who were going through what you are going through. We became great friends after sharing this experience together. To be honest, I also talked to a therapist. I wanted to make sure I was in a good headspace to take this test. It all really helped me a lot.

Toothless Jonny sad in his bedQ: What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a repeat taker if they were also feeling isolated and down?

A: It’s normal to feel any way you are feeling. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. But, it’s what you do with your energy that matters the most. One thing I would always remind myself of is that I graduated from law school and was so successful in my internships. I knew I could do this, and I knew I would be a great lawyer. This was just a set-back. Remind yourself of these things daily, or whenever you need to, because it’s true. Create a support system and don’t be afraid to use that support system when you need them. The people in your life care about you and want to see you succeed.

A: Allow yourself some time to decompress, but then you have to shake it off and get it done. Reach out to people who are in a similar boat, that support was the best for me. Try to create a repeat taker network or study group. I reached out to my bar prep professor to get connected with some people, so that is something you could do if you do not know where to start. Don’t be afraid to get professional help, either, because it also really helped me. The bar exam is a rollercoaster of emotions, and having people to talk to who also felt like I was, and having someone to talk to about how I was personally feeling, really made a difference.


 If you are a repeat taker, LawTutors can help you pass the bar exam. Over the last 20 years, we have helped hundreds of students pass this exam. Our bar review services range from live workshops, essay and performance test grading, one-on-one tutoring, and more! Please also contact us if you have any questions or need assistance in determining which resource may be the best fit for you.  


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