what they don’t tell you about the bar exam

IMG_9041Written by Jermey B. Hahn   [Jermey is an attorney located in Counsel Bluffs, IA, working in estate and business planning]

Now that I got your attention, I wanted to say congratulations for making it this far. Take a deep breath and let the weight off your shoulders. . .  but only for a minute.  The truth is the hard part hasn’t even started.

This summer is going to be the most mentally exhausting period of your life.  I can’t give you the answers, but I can tell you what I wish I had known just one year ago when I was in your shoes.

The most important thing about the bar exam is being brutally honest with yourself.  You can’t hide your weaknesses, so embrace them. I don’t want to waste your time with little tidbits about the actual test but what I do want to tell you about is how aggravating life may be for the next few months.

You’re going to have bad days.  That’s okay.  The worst part?  When people tell you, “it is just a test” or “you’ll be fine” by sometime near the end of June, you will want to rip the head off anyone who says this to you.  Forgive them, they just care about you.

Your friends aren’t going to really understand.  I hate to say this but unless the person you are dealing with has taken the exam, the truth is they won’t understand. You will hear a lot of “you’ve been studying all day, come out just this once” or “take a break, you deserve it.”  Now this is not to suggest every waking moment will be spent studying, because it won’t be, but it is three months of your life that you’ve worked seven years for.  By not putting your all into these next few months is effectively training for a marathon, running 26 miles and quitting on the .2 with the finish line in site.

Someone once said, “you’re already hurting, get a reward from it.”  This couldn’t be more true for what you’re about to endure.  You see, the bar exam isn’t fun, but what is worse is looking back and thinking, I could have done more.  If I hadn’t gone to that party, if I would have studied that Sunday. . . maybe I would have passed.

Are friends and loved ones going to be understanding–perhaps at first.  But eventually human inclination sets in.  After the 4th time you tell them, “sorry, I’ve got to study” they get mad, they get impatient, and sometimes they even give up.  I wish that wasn’t true, but it is.  KEEP WORKING ANYWAYS.  There’s no way to prepare yourself for the moments when those who mean so much to you, decide to throw in the towel.  Chances are you’ll be better off in the end, but that doesn’t prevent it from hurting you.  Get your reward from it.

When you get upset, don’t hold it in.  I was that way.  I was going through some personal things at the time (that certainly didn’t help anything) but found that some subjects always got to me.  Eventually I learned by letting it all out, some people, who I never would have expected, will give you some of the best advice you’ll ever get.

There’s a rumor that if you complete 75% of the course materials 95% of people pass or (something to this effect) don’t use it as a bench mark.  I had a core group of friends that finished the entire course and every single one of them passed.  Can you imagine sitting to take the exam and saying to yourself, well I wonder how much better I’d have done if I did the whole course?  WHY?   Put in the work, it is worth it.

The truth of the matter is not everyone has to do all the work.  If you’re still reading this post at this point, someone is smarter than you.  They study less and retain more.  Is that fair, no.  Is there anything you can do about it besides work even harder, no.   Focus on yourself and you’re going to do wonderful.

Good luck!


4 responses to “what they don’t tell you about the bar exam”

  1. Just treat studying like an 8 hr per day job, 40 hrs per week… plus weekend overtime and it’ll work itself out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. attorney attire Avatar
      attorney attire

      Yes, totally agree Dustin


  2. Loved this post! I’m halfway through my last semester and the pressure that si the bar is already hanging in the air! These are great tips and I enjoyed reading them. Thanks for writing!

    Chelcy | charmingchatwins.wordpress.com


    1. attorney attire Avatar
      attorney attire

      Sorry I didn’t reply to this!!!! Please let me know if you have any questions! Try not to let the looming bar get to you, and enjoy your last year of law school!!!!


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