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Keeping the Plates in the Air

One of the things that happens when you fail the bar exam is that you go back over every single excruciating detail of the test and the test preparation in your head to try to figure out "what went wrong." It could have been anything...maybe I had a bad test day (or days), maybe I didn't concentrate enough during the lectures, maybe I just didn't get it all like I thought I did. I received a detailed report of my results, so I know that it was the multiple choice questions that did me in and not the essays as I predicted it would be, but I still don't know exactly what happened. When I left the exam in July I felt relatively confident about it. Or at the very least, I didn't feel like I had failed.

I have begun to wonder if maybe I just did too much during that time. When I first started to study I remember reading a letter from the exam prep company about what the next couple of months were going to be like and about how the preparation was going to work. In the letter, they gave a few words of warning about how to do it "right." One thing they said, which I joked about all summer, was that they recommended that you do NOT try to work, plan a wedding, or train for a marathon while you prepare for the bar exam. And I didn't plan a wedding.

When I tell people this story, I always defend myself at the end by saying, "But I did everything they told me to do! I followed the schedule, I made it my top priority, and I just fit the other things in." And it's true...I did. If I can say anything about myself and what I have done in the past couple of years, it's that I'm a master juggler. I mean really...I juggled law school and three kids! I juggled law school, three kids, and cancer! Why shouldn't I be able to juggle bar prep, work, and triathlon training? And three kids? A friend who always speaks the truth said to me the other day, "Kim, I think you did too much. I know you can handle a lot, but this was one time when you should not have done all of that." And I have begun to wonder if perhaps she is right. Is that what it was? Did I divide my attention too thinly this summer?

I don't know if I will ever know exactly what happened, but I do know that this time I will do things differently. I have registered for the February 2010 bar exam and I have re-signed up for the same bar prep course that I took before. But this time I will not work at all during January and February and I will not train for any triathlons during those months. I will still have to feed my kids from time to time and probably emerge from my office for fresh air and bathroom breaks every once in awhile, but this time my main focus will be bar prep.


Since my state takes a lower MBE score than IL, we very well could have answered the same number of questions correctly. The MBE was crazy hard, and on another day you probably would have passed. I felt going in that I could have used an extra two weeks of doing practice questions, particularly in Property which was my worst area. I definitely felt after taking the essay portion that I never should have bothered studying for it at all and concentrated solely on the MBE. Does IL require you to retake the entire exam or just the MBE again?

I failed July 2007 doing everything barbri said to do, plus caring for one toddler. I passed Feb 2008 working full time plus a 3 hr commute daily to Springfield. I listened to PMBR CDs during the drive and used the barbri workbooks. I felt no different about my test performance either time. The vibe in Feb is more relaxed. There are only a couple hundred test takers v thousands. Plus February in Chicago isn't as distracting as it is in July.

I think that's a smart approach. I multi-tasked like a maniac *during* law school... but when it came time for the bar, I took my wife's advice: I took a leave of absence from work and made Bar Prep my full-time job for 2 months.

Yeah, there will always be other things going on (feeding the family, for example). But I think getting into it, so the Bar is basically your occupation is a good thing. Well, no, it's a horrible thing... ;) But it did work for me.

Hi Kim -- Can't wait to meet you Sunday at WGN. You truly are an inspiration! Is your hair straight, cuz I look much like a French poodle these days!!!!! Hope it doesn't last.

I've learned the hard way that its ok to drop a few plates. I think I mentioned that before. We only have the title "mom". We choose to put the adjective "super" in front of it. What is amazing is that when we do slow down, the kids still think we are super! I have total faith that you will pass the next time and you will attain your dreams too.

Hi Kim!

I'm sorry to hear that you failed your bar exam. I know how disappointing it is to try your hardest and not have the payoff.

I think you're like me: You want it all, and you want it now!

But I feel that you learned the main lesson of this situation. Now that you realized it, you can dust off the dust and try again. Because as long as you try, you're golden!

:) Good Luck!

I am sorry to read your post about the bar exam. But, hell, if you can take on cancer and motherhood, a bar exam is NOT going to be the thing to bring you down!

I don't know if you did the Kaplan preparation for the multiple choice component, but if not, it might be something to consider for February. In the end, I found the Kaplan practice questions to be harder than the Barbri practice questions, and the little extra "push" might be helpful to you if that section turned out to be your weak spot. Regardless, I am sure that you will nail it in February. You just spread yourself too thin over the summer, and now you know your limits (a painful but important lesson we are all faced with at some point).

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February is a much more relaxed atmosphere in which to take this test. I remember driving all the way to Albany to review my test and felt that the grading was down right arbitrary. Relax you know more than you know...I did take a different course however, Piper if it is still around is amazing....good luck

Hi, Kim--

I'm so sorry it's been so long since I last read and commented... Just wanted to thank you for the beautiful Christmas card (your kids are gorgeous, just like you!!), and to say that I am ROOTING for you this Feb!! You can do this, I know you can.

Love to you and yours from me and mine--

Heather xoxo

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