Unexpected Results

November 17th, 2012 | Rachel

This is even worst than that time I dumped the new bag of Verve coffee beans on the floor at work.

[For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you may remember a previous dedicated to failure.]

Its Friday night. Its been raining on and off all day. And I’m bundled up on my sofa wallowing in self-pity.

This seems to be one of those things that people on all sides don’t like to talk about, but the results for the 2012 California bar exam were released earlier tonight, and, much to my surprise, I wasn’t on the pass list.

@$%&*%@.

I was a little nervous about the results simply due to the nature of what was at stake, but I wasn’t too worried about how I would fair because I’ve thought I had this one in the bag since I took the exam in July.

This isn’t my first bar exam. I took the New York exam right after law school and practically skipped back to my hotel when it was over because I knew I had killed it. Those feelings were confirmed a few months later when I got my results: pass.

I thought there was going to be an advantage to taking a second exam after passing another state. I thought the psychological advantage combined with thorough studying would be a guaranteed pass. All of the opinions solicited from my friends who had taken a second state seemed to support these assumptions.

As I did for the New York exam, I wrote out by hand a thousand flash cards covering the material in my Bar Bri books. I spent hours every day sitting at my kitchen table as I read through my books and made note cards. As the test neared, I reviewed the Bar Bri strategy for answering essay and practical test questions and read through a number of the practice questions.

Looking back (in the three hours I’ve had to reflect on this unfortunate turn of events), I think there were a few key differences my preparations for the New York and the California exams. I am sharing them not only to vent my overwhelming frustrating (and desperately search for an answer for WHYYYYY??), but also to document my experience for everyone in Internetland who will one take a second bar exam, particularly California.

First and foremost, I didn’t take a formal bar review class for the California bar. Those programs are pretty expensive and this effort was funded by me and my parents, so I just bought the books off of eBay for $200 and relied on my own self discipline to make it through all of the material in time. This seemed to be the strategy that many friends had taken and had received favorable results.

Second, I took the New York exam the summer after law school while I was still living in Chapel Hill. All of my friends were studying for bar exams, and I had study buddies who were also taking the New York exam. I still had a little fun, but life for everyone that summer was centered around studying. This meant that there were people around me that understood first hand how boring and uninspiring studying for a bar exam can be. This second time around, my non-lawyer friends tried hard to be supportive, but it was impossible for them to relate to what I was doing, and much of the time I felt like I was silently suffering alone. Even worse, I encountered a few well-intentioned but annoyingly misguided people who insisted I was studying too much.

Third, and probably the biggest contributing factor to my lack of success with the California exam, I was trying to balance studying with not just one but two jobs this past summer. This was when I was working at the restaurant, which I really loved doing, and also had my day job that paid considerably more. I ended up quitting the restaurant job the week before the exam because I realized how much time it was consuming, but I’m afraid I made that decision too late. Even more irritating is that I was spending considerably more time at the restaurant than at my other job and wasn’t making enough money to support myself. That combined with a frivolous post-exam extravaganza has left me with a credit card bill that I am still paying off.

Fourth, even before I get the break down of my score, I know the reason I failed was the multistate multiple choice exam (despite the fact that I passed with a high score last time). I decided against doing practice questions, and had I done so, I would have realized that criminal procedure was going to be tested a whole lot more than I was expecting. I didn’t take crim pro in law school and now recall having to study that subject a little harder while prepping for the New York exam. Most of the other information on the California exam was facts I already had buried in my brain, but I found myself in the middle of the MBE this time around wishing I had reviewed criminal procedure more thoroughly. Again, to make a terrible situation even more irritating, if I had waited a year to take the exam, I would have been eligible for the attorney exam, which doesn’t include the multistate exam.

It is a frustrating, deflating experience, to say the least — particularly in light of the financial, emotional and time investments made by my family and friends. I feel like I let everyone down, and none more so than myself.

Maybe my next post will include some sort of perspective or insight, but for now I’m just sad.

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