I Am Super Anxious Post Bar Exam. What Should I Do?
Are you super anxious post bar exam? Many students think that they will be able to simply forget about the exam after it is over. While it is true that many can simply move on and not think about it for a while, there are many others who can’t stop. If you fall into that latter category, this post is for you.
I Am Super Anxious Post Bar Exam. What Should I Do?
You Probably Have Encountered The Following Emotions Post Bar Exam
If you clicked this post you are likely frustrated that you feel (or have felt) any of the following:
Beating yourself up about not knowing certain things or forgetting things that you knew;
Obsessing over things you didn’t know or things you wrote; and/or
Fear of failing.
Why are we pointing this out for you? We want you to know that feeling super anxious post bar exam once it is over is very normal. Yes. It is normal. The bar exam is incredibly hard. You likely just dedicated the past 8-12 weeks or so to preparing for it. In other words, it is natural to feel, at the very least, unsettled now that it is over. Sometimes simply knowing that how you feel is normal will help reduce some of your stress.
Additionally, many of our highest scoring students were super anxious post bar exam. We tend to believe that if you feel super anxious post bar exam it is not at all a bad sign—the exam is supposed to be hard and if you feel stressed it is likely because you identified the difficult issues. You can find another one our posts on how you will feel after the bar exam here.
So, if find yourself super anxious post bar exam, here are five tips to help you try to relax and to stop obsessing about the exam.
1. Stop Engaging with Others that Make you Nervous about the Exam.
If you have friends, classmates, or family members that talk about the exam, kindly tell them that you don’t want to talk about the test anymore. Be sure to put family on notice that talking about the exam is stressful and that you would appreciate if they quit asking you about it or discussing results.
You should also try to stop reading things on social media that you stress you out. For instance, if your friends still insist on posting about it, stop following their posts or take a break from social media generally.
2. Try To Avoid Obsessing About What You Knew or Didn’t Know.
Secondly, if you find that you are constantly thinking about what you wrote for the real property question or beating yourself up about an issue that you knew you knew, but that you missed or wrote something wrong for– take a deep breath and tell yourself its ok! Remind yourself that you can’t do anything about it right now. There is no use in obsessing about something that you can’t change right now. (Further, we have some students beat themselves up over issues they are “sure” they missed — when in reality, they were not even issues. These students simply make themselves nervous when they compare what they wrote with what others wrote!)
Additionally, you should also get in the habit, when you find that you are getting anxious or stressed, to remind yourself that you only have to do average to pass the bar exam. You don’t have to know everything or provide perfect answers to pass the bar exam. Keep reminding yourself that every time you start rehashing what you wrote or didn’t write.
This tip also goes hand-in-hand with the first tip. If you stop talking about the exam and you remove yourself from situations or people that constantly talk about the exam, you may find that you stop thinking about the exam.
3. Take Advantage Of Not Having To Study.
Next, try to keep yourself busy. Take this time to do things that you dreamt of doing while you were inside studying for the bar exam for the past few months. Go see friends that you haven’t had a chance to catch up with. Or, go visit family. If you are in the position to travel, you should. This may be one of the last times where you have a chunk of free time where you aren’t accountable to a job. Or, if you are already working, make plans on the weekends or evenings.
Try to squeeze in a weekend trip or dinners with people that you missed while you were studying. This is also a great time to try to get into a new routine. Go check out that new gym you’ve been wanting to try. Or take some time for you to do things like read or write or simply catch up on your favorite tv shows.
4. Make A Game Plan.
It may be that you are having anxiety because you don’t know what you will do in the event that you pass or fail the exam. Having this discussion with yourself will likely make you feel more uncomfortable, BUT in the long run it will help you to eliminate or reduce your anxiety and stress.
First, put together a plan regarding how you will check your score. Many people decide that they won’t check the website while they are at work and that they will wait until there are home to look in private. Other people wait until they receive the formal letter from the state bar. Still, some decide that they will check it at work and have a plan in place for how they will handle the good or bad news while there. Whatever you prefer is up to you. However, the key is to have a game plan so that if you find out results come out, you know how you want to handle the situation.
5. Next, force yourself to think about what you will do when you pass the exam.
Will you start looking for a job? Do you already have one and you will be promoted? Try to visualize what it will be like passing and put together a plan of action for that good experience.
You should also force yourself to think about what you will do in the event you fail the bar exam. If this is tough for you, start by thinking about how your life, in every other major way, will move on. You can always re-take the exam! In other words, get comfortable with the idea that everything will be ok if you aren’t successful on this attempt. Then, once that feeling becomes tolerable, put together your plan. Will you start to study immediately? What if you have to take time off work? Will you study using different materials and a different method? Put together a plan of attack so that you have that to fall back on in the event that you need it.
While forcing yourself to think about the good and bad news and what you will do in the event you receive it, will definitely help reduce your anxiety post bar exam. This is arguably one of the most important steps to help you move on while you wait for your exam score.
6. Talk To Someone You Can Trust.
Lastly, after trying to implement our tips, if you find that you are still super anxious post bar exam and that it is making it hard for you to carry on with your day-to-day life, maybe consider talking to someone that you can trust. Perhaps talking to a neutral third party, preferably someone who didn’t take the bar exam or watch you study day in and day out, will provide you with some fresh perspective. Another suggestion would be to consider talking to a non-law school friend or maybe even a professional.
Want another post on this topic? Find another one of our posts on what you do if you are worried waiting for bar exam results to be released here.
Meagan Jabbori, a JD Advising bar exam tutor and course instructor, wrote this post. Meagan scored in the 96th percentile on the Uniform Bar Exam and has helped hundreds of students pass the bar exam.
If you are waiting for results:
- Plan a nice post-bar exam vacation (or “bar moon” as some call it). Anywhere. Being in an “in-between” stage of your life can be awful in some ways. However, in other ways, it gives you an excuse to take a break!
- Figure out a plan of attack for if you fail and if you pass. We have some stellar ideas on “The Art of Waiting for Bar Exam Results”.
- We have some work-related articles here that discuss how to start your own business, how to start your own law firm, polishing up your Linkedin profile, etc. These are especially useful if you are looking to put themselves in the best position to get a job while waiting for bar exam results.
If you failed the bar exam:
- I failed the bar exam. What should I do? Here is a detailed step-by-step guide on what to do!
- Read this post on what to do if you failed the Uniform Bar Exam, as well as this post on what your UBE score report means.
- If you failed (or are worried you will fail) the New York Bar Exam, please see this post on what the next steps should be.
- How to pass the bar exam the second time around: 5 things to do differently.
- I failed the bar exam twice (or three times, or four or more times): Here is a step-by-step guide to getting out of this vicious cycle!
- Should I rewatch lectures if I fail the bar exam? Generally the answer is no.
- How to tell your boss you failed the bar exam: What to say and what not to say.
- What happens if I work at a big law firm and fail the bar?
- Lastly, check out our very popular note to those who failed the bar exam, quotes for those who failed the bar exam, and a list of famous people that failed the bar exam — you are not alone!
If you passed the bar exam:
- Read our note to those who passed the bar exam. It reminds you how to mind your bar exam manners and keep your friends, if you passed!
- A description of swearing-in ceremonies: It is true that this is focused on Michigan, but we suspect they are pretty similar everywhere!
Good luck waiting for bar exam results!!
Ashley Heidemann is the owner and founder of JD Advising. Ms. Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011 after graduating as the #1 student in her law school class of over 200 students in 2011. She, as well as a team of others, offer bar exam courses, seminars, and private tutoring for bar exam students nationwide. This includes services for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and Michigan bar exam. Please click here to contact her company, with any questions.