Dealing with Negative Bar Exam Results
by Paulina Bandy, Esq.

Dealing with Negative Bar Exam Results

The content below is written for the multiple Repeater, and their family, who sacrifice to accomplish their dreams. This was written for you, if you felt sick to your stomach before checking results. Then once your name did not come up, you repeatedly checked to see if the numbers you inserted were correct hoping you made a mistake.

Hope. Every bar candidate has hope while awaiting results. The cruel reality of Results Day is once you see negative results your hope is obliterated. In an instant, without your approval, your dream is re-written.

I have given a lot of thought about what I can do to help you deal with this bad news. I can categorize my help into two classifications: 1) Share my thoughts about getting through this and 2) Help you Plan for Success next time.

Below, I set forth a Table of Contents so you can find what you need, when you need it. Fresh off seeing the results, you may not be ready for every section yet.

Table of Contents:

1. The Mourning Process

2. To Continue or Not to Continue

3. Your Significant Other and Family

4. “Unsuccessful” and “Failure” Labels

5. Should I Reinvest in Bar Review or my Tutor?

6. Reasons For Not Passing

7. It is a Tough Exam

8. The Understanding Ear

9. Where to Go From Here

1. The Mourning Process

Recovering from “unsuccessful” bar notices is similar to the Stages of Grieving, developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Similar to what psychologists observe in their patients, I observed with bar candidates over the years. They need to progress through stages before the healing can begin.

a. Shock, followed by initial denial- Hoping the bar letter will reflect a computer mistake

b. Anger, blame, rage, resentment- At bar reviews, the bar, tutors

c. Bargaining with God- Usually beforehand

d. Depression, frustration, self pity, mourning the loss of hopes and dreams and plans for the future- It is depressing

e. Acceptance- This is where I believe positive changes can take place

When results are fresh, don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself time to be sad. It is a sad time. However, I don’t want you stunting your growth by dwelling too long in any given stage.

Although individuals go through these stages at a different pace, bar candidates which choose to take the exam again, need to get to the Acceptance stage in order to progress.

For your own good, do not dwell in the Anger or Bitter Stage. It makes it difficult for you to continue. Anger eclipses your preparation. It is not an effective motivator. It masks your need for change.

Depression is crippling to your bar preparation. It wrecks havoc on your confidence. It is essential to regain your confidence. You must trust your decisions and preparation. You must be able to speak with authority on this exam. Remind yourself of your accomplishments. If you want help in this area, Bar Exam Mind SetTM available on this website, was created to help Repeaters regain their confidence and keep stress in check.

You can’t change the result; however, you can control your reactions to it.

Once you take control over this exam, you will feel better. Get your result letter. Schedule and plan. Correct the areas that need corrected. Gain a new perspective on the bar exam and move forward.

No one robbed you of your hope, they just suspended it. No one robbed you of your dream, they just delayed it.

2. To Continue or Not to Continue?

If you decide to Continue…

You persevering juggernaut you. Good for you. I advise you keep proper balance in your life. If you are a candidate that says “I put my life on hold”, STOP IT. It is an exam. Keep it in perspective. If you properly prepare, then there is no need to put your life on hold. If you don’t know how to properly prepare…contact me I’ll get you on track.

Keep in mind, how good it will feel to reap the benefits of this studying. How good it will feel to pass.

If you decide to go on, to achieve what you set out to do, then please don’t sacrifice your life, your relationships, and your freedom. Some candidates study 14 hours a day for months, with no kids, or job, or showering, and fail. Some study 4-6 hours at night, with toddlers, and a job, and pass. You must have a proper balance and proper preparation.

I am excited that you are working towards your goal. You are unstoppable. Your triumph will be so much sweeter because of these hardships you overcame.

Deciding Not To Continue…

It is natural for you to weigh out the pros and cons, of whether you want to continue to take the exam. It is expensive, it is time consuming, and so far it has not paid off.

I cannot encourage you to go on, unless it is what you want and need to do.

Don’t take the exam to please a spouse, or to win the approval of your father. I would not encourage any one to take the exam to please someone else. It must be for you and the betterment of your family.

Don’t take the exam if you resent and hate the system. You should consider pursuing something you believe in, or get back to it when you are over this stage of grieving.

I would be concerned, if someone else makes the decision for you not to continue. If you can discontinue at their request, and not resent and hate them, good for you. However, if this is going to be a source of contention for the remainder of the relationship, you may want to have a serious discussion with your loved one.

If you don’t want this for your life any more, I admire you as much as if you decide to continue. I want the best for you. Sometimes, that is the decision not to continue.

3. Your Significant Other, Family, and Friends

Your partner, family, and friends, are suffering too. They care about you and they feel helpless. I have been contacted by attorneys, friends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, (no sisters, although they have forwarded my contact information), and mother-in-laws, all having a difficult time reconciling why their bright, accomplished, hard-working, loved ones can not pass this exam.

As a result of seeing you in pain, they may lose faith in the system. I received an email from a mother who told me that her son had taken the exam numerous times and failed in spite of being extremely smart and accomplished. She told me that passing the California Bar Exam was a matter of “winning the lottery”. She was convinced that the bar exam was merely a gamble. Anger and bitterness oozed through-out the email. She hated lawyers, hated the CA Bar, and she hated the system. Although I tried to provide understanding and insight, her mind was made up. Don’t let other people’s anger affect you. Realize that it is likely coming from a caring place. Be assured that this exam is honest, just highly competitive and sophisticated. People do pass.

I recommend including your spouse in your bar taking plans…for your own good. Let them know that you are doing this to better your lives together. Let them know that you want to celebrate with them at the end of all this. If your partner feels like the bar is more important to you than them, you will pay the consequences. Make dates. Tell them you love and appreciate them. Maybe they can even be included in your studies?

4. “Unsuccessful” and “Failed” Labels

If you worked hard, showed up and fought hard, then you should feel good about yourself. Don’t give into these labels.

Remember your accomplishments. Dwell on how good you really are.

Remember the examiners don’t know you. You are being judged by how you communicated to them. It must be in the language they understand. You must make the adjustments.

Being a rookie is overrated. Use your experience to gain insight into changes you need to make. There are no corrections on your exams, so it is not overtly apparent; however, they do give you insight. You know if an approach worked in a certain subject by your score. You can see if all your essay scores are the same, indicating a technique problem, or if you only failed one subject. You can get a feel for your standing in multi-states. You know if your PT organization worked. The more body of work you have, the more transparent it becomes.

You are not the only one. You are in good company.

5. Should I Reinvest in Bar Review or my Tutor?

It is always surprising to see how many times candidates reinvest money in bar reviews or tutors that did not work for them. If your scores did not go up, or you did worse, ask them why. If they can't give you a good explanation, move on. Don’t try to get your investment back, by giving that same person more money. It does not mean you didn’t learn anything, however, you likely learned all you could from them. Listen to yourself, you know what works for you.

Unfortunately, it has been a costly lesson to many Repeaters to learn that a qualified attorney, or a qualified bar review instructor, is not qualified to teach Repeaters.

6. Reasons for not passing

You do not pass the bar exam for two reasons: 1) You did not know how to properly prepare and present the exam, therefore you didn’t know how to compete, or 2) you were beat.

7. It is a Tough Exam

It is a tough exam. It takes more than being smart, it takes more than hard work. It is a game of proper, consistent preparation, and application of strategy.

8. The Understanding Ear

If you are not a Repeater, I mean a die-hard Repeater, you just can’t relate. Some sympathetic souls try to understand and listen as you provide insight into the Calbar. However, right when you think you are making head-way into their understanding, they compare the bar exam to passing their notary, hair stylist, or accounting exam. All they have is their own frame of reference to compute what you are telling them. Bless their hearts, they try to understand.

9. Where To Go From Here

Effectively study for the next bar exam. You need consistent and proper preparation. Learn how to do it Get aggressive with your studies!

If you are tired of trying to figure out how to pass the CA Bar Exam and would like my help, find the details about my multi-repeater program by clicking on the link below:
Changing CourseSM, The Multi-Repeaters' Tutorial

The Bar Exam Mind SetTM downloadable aids Repeater confidence building and helps control stress. To learn more about Bar Exam Mind SetTM click on this link:
Bar Exam Mind SetTM

Feel free to email me regarding a courtesy consultation if you would like to discuss your preparation in further detail, or you want to know how I’m helping repeaters achieve their goals.

I am excited for you. Let's get your confidence back. Turn this around. What a sweet victory it will be.

Make it your turn.

Good Luck.

Paulina Bandy, Esq.
CA Bar Exam Repeaters' Resource™

"Repeater Success is not an oxymoron"
---Paulina Bandy, Esq.

Prepare to Pass™

Disclaimer: This article is written from my viewpoint as an expert in bar exam preparation for Repeaters. I am not a psychologist and my opinions should not replace needed psychological advice or counseling.