5 Steps to Dealing With Bar Exam Failure

5 Steps to Dealing With Bar Exam Failure

When bar exam results come out, thousands of candidates across the country learn that they failed. If you’re one of them, always remember that you're in good company. Finding out that you failed the bar can be devastating news, but it is not the end of the world. If you didn't pass, perhaps you aren't sure what you should do next, so we've laid out 5 steps that will help you get back on track so when you do take the exam again, you'll be more likely to get the results you've been hoping for.


  1. Be Disappointed
    It’s okay to be disappointed by your bar exam results. You put a lot of time and effort into preparing and studying, so you’re allowed to take some time to be upset. This failure doesn’t define your future as a lawyer, because many famous people also failed the bar exam the first time. With each day that passes it gets a little easier to breathe.

  2. Take a Small Break
    Many people who fail the exam liken it to being kicked in the stomach. You might not want to want to leave the house or even talk with your friends out of fear that you might have to talk about the exam results. So don’t force yourself to study immediately. Instead, try to do something good for yourself and ease yourself into feeling like a normal person again. Within a week or two, it will still be painful to think about the exam, but you’ll feel better than you did initially and you’ll have a clearer vision of whether you want to re-take the exam (and if so, how you want to prepare). 

  3. Commit to Retaking the Bar
    Retaking the bar exam will require a lot of time, hard work, and dedication, realistically more than the first time around. You must fully commit yourself to putting in even more effort than you did before. Harness your frustration and use it as motivation to commit yourself to studying. If you can give it 110% again, your next attempt at passing the exam will likely be your last and you’ll be on your way to practicing law.

  4. Make a Plan
    The most common mistake bar exam candidates make is repeating how they studied the first time. So evaluate how you prepared for your first bar exam and consider a more effective approach. Maybe take a different bar review course, because if it didn’t help you pass before, it likely won't help you the second time. Perhaps you should get a tutor who will challenge you, point out your mistakes, and help you succeed. And keep believing in yourself. The exam is not impossible and you can pass it.

  5. Start Studying
    After you have figured out the mistakes you made while preparing for your first bar exam, it’s time for the hardest part: starting your studying. Set up your study schedule, and get right back into the grind. Bring on the coffee.

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About the author

Pieper Bar Review

For over forty years, Pieper Bar Review has taught students the legal concepts and skills necessary for success on the bar exam, and reinforced students’ knowledge through thought provoking examples and bar exam questions. The proof that the Pieper teaching method works is found in the success of our former students – now present-day attorneys. Learn more

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