After studying for hours, prepping for weeks, and taking the longest test of your life, the stress of the bar exam is finally over…right? Not so fast.
According to many law students, the days leading up to the release of bar exam results can be just as stressful as the days leading up to the exam itself, and all because of three haunting words: did I pass? You may now find yourself in this same predicament, feeling overwhelmed and full of anticipation. Your body might flutter with nerves as you consistently check your jurisdiction’s website for updates. Maybe you get distracted easily, frequently spacing out thinking about your results. Or, by now, perhaps you’ve even started dreaming about them.
The key to overcoming post-bar anxiety is finding positive distractions and eliminating excess stress whenever possible. Read the following tips, compiled by AdaptiBar, to help you as you wait for your results.
There’s no better time for taking a vacation (or needing one) than after the bar exam! Regardless of whether you passed or not, you still spent months prepping for and taking the exam – reward yourself! Of course, if you’re looking to save some money to recoup your bar exam expenses, opt for a staycation instead! Explore the hidden gems of your hometown, perusing a local farmer’s market or venturing to “that coffee shop” that you’ve always driven past but never taken the time to stop at. Surround yourself by loved ones and positive influences that will also keep your attitude upbeat and positive. According to singer Dennis S. Brown, positivity is the deciding factor between what makes a day good or bad.
Balancing your busy lifestyle is also important. While it’s likely that you’re job searching or networking right now, still make it a priority to do something you love each day that you may not have had much time for before taking the bar exam. For example, did you pass on a golf outing with friends because you had to study? Have you wanted to take a yoga class or invite your family over for dinner, but couldn’t recently because you had bar review? Take this time as an opportunity to catch up on some much-need recreation, by yourself and with others. By focusing on the potential of today, your mind will be kept off of the preoccupations of tomorrow.
Free time is often the easiest time to overthink. However, this doesn’t mean that you should keep as busy of a schedule as possible before getting your exam results. Instead, frequently participate in relaxing activities that will effectively reduce your stress hormones, such as taking a walk outside, deep breathing, or listening to soothing music. Also, put the phone away. Recent studies indicate that smartphones can trigger increases in stress levels and negatively impact your quality of sleep, consequently allowing your post-bar anxiety to escalate. To combat this, try staying off of social media for the time being and use your phone for communication purposes only.
Of all of these, however, possibly the most important component of maintaining a low stress level while waiting for your results is that you don’t do exactly what you and everyone else you know wants to do the most – talk about the exam. At all costs, avoid telling others how you think you did on the bar exam or discussing confusing questions with fellow bar examinees. This will only keep you focused on your results and heighten feelings of pressure and nervousness while you wait.
3. Don’t Dwell
The bar exam is over, which means it’s impossible to go back to the day of the test to read a question more thoroughly, change an answer, or do something differently. Accept this, knowing that while you took the exam, you performed to the best of your ability. Also, instead of selling yourself short, give yourself well-deserved credit by having confidence in yourself and the work that you put into prepping for and taking the bar exam. Eventually, you will get your results, so stop dwelling on them for the time being and start enjoying the moments you have now to relax after your many months of hard work and dedication to the bar exam.
With the bar exam behind you and your results ahead, it can be hard to see the silver lining while you wait. But as Lyman Abbott once said, “Patience is passion tamed”. Recognize that your nervousness is an indicator that you are passionate about your future law career and that, regardless of the results, you will have one in time. All it takes is a little more waiting and a whole lot of patience.