October 8, 2010

Pity Party (part 1)

I've been thinking about this post for a while now.  I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to write it, let alone post it.  You see, I feel like my blog is one facet of who I am.  If I put too much of my every day feelings into it, then it breaks that illusion and ceases to be what I thought it was.  I know that every once in a while I update about my life and how things are going in the "real world," but this post is different.  So---if you want to avoid a whole lot of navel gazing, self-pity and self-doubt, go ahead and skip this post.  If not, here goes. . .

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    If I ever write a book about my life during the next few months its going to be called "I failed the bar and then my life was a catastrophe."  You read that right.  I failed the bar exam.  By 8 points.  Passing score is 346 and I got a 338.  When I first read my score I was relieved.  It meant I knew the stuff.  I KNOW the law.  But then I realized it also meant that the pain I was feeling on the days of the exam were enough to derail my concentration enough so that I failed.  Sucks might be too mild a way to put it.  Rather than make this one really long jumble of words and emotions, I'll give it some order, I'll go in a timeline/subject matter sequence.
    The bar exam was the last Tuesday and Wednesday of July.  Jenn and I drove to Raleigh Monday afternoon, checked into our hotel, checked in with some  of our friends and went out to eat dinner.  Our plan was to make it a chill evening.  After dinner and before bed, I was getting all my stuff together and realized that the extension cord that I had bought a week earlier was 2 prong.  My laptop charger is 3-pronged.  So off I went at too late an hour for starting such a gigantic exam the next morning to Walmart to buy a power strip.  Once I got back to the hotel I realized that it was too late, around 11 pm, for me to take tylenol PM and wake up the next morning without feeling groggy.  Little did I know at the time, but this was going to screw me over.  I didn't sleep.  I may have fallen asleep for 2 or 3 hours, but it was SO not enough.  The next morning sucked so bad.  My chest hurt, my back hurt and I was running on pure adrenaline for a while.  I took a bunch of ibuprofen in hopes that it would kick in quickly enough for me to be able to continue the exam and concentrate.  
    It wasn't enough.  My scores tell me that during the morning essay section I didn't do as well as on the afternoon portion.  It could be because of different subject matter in each, but I think it was the pain.  I was so distracted and worried about the pain in the morning that I did poorly on the morning section.  That's not to say that I didn't do well.  I actually scored 8/10 on 2 essays.  I also scored 2/10 on 2 essays.  The 8s were both in the afternoon, the 2s were in the morning. 
    I spent the whole of the 2 days in pain and wishing I could sleep.  Just a little nap would be enough.  I powered through the rest of the exam realizing I didn't have much else of a choice.  The bar exam isn't like any other test I've ever taken.  In high school, if I wasn't up for an exam I could skip the day and take it again some other time.  Same was mostly true for undergrad (so long as there was a valid reason).  Law school exams were brutal, but at least the deans knew that I was dealing with pain and if the pain got to be too much they would allow me to postpone exams.  The bar is such that in order to get special accommodations an applicant has to apply for them and show medical documentation  and then it gets decided on by a committee of some sort.  Since I had been fine for so long without any kind of pain, it didn't occur to me to even try for special accommodations.  Thinking back on it, I doubt that even if I tried I would have had them granted.  Chest and generalized body pain, while distracting, doesn't seem serious enough.  
    Anyway, by the time I was mid-exam, even if I wanted to, there was no way I could ask for a timeout from the exam.  As it was I worked as efficiently as possible while taking breaks to walk around and drink plenty of water and down lots of ibuprofen so that I could survive the whole process.  
    Leaving the exam I was ecstatic.  I felt pretty good about my performance.  I knew the stuff pretty well.  But its a curved exam and my score would depend on the scores of everyone else.  I had to hope that I was smarter and better prepared than at least 30% of the people in the room.  Surely I was. Right? Yes, of course.  But really?
    Turns out I may have been, but it wasn't enough.  I still failed.  By 8 points.  


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In writing this story, I realized that it may take me several posts to complete it.  So bear with me.  Regularly scheduled programming will be coming soon. 

8 comments:

La Historiadora de Moda said...

I'm sorry to hear that you didn't pass the bar exam and that you were in pain while taking it! Will you have to retake it to keep your job?

A-C said...

yea---I was smart enough to negotiate for still having a job in case I failed. But in order to be a licensed attorney I need to take it and pass it in February.

five tomatoes said...

I am so sorry to hear you didn't pass. The bar exam is not a fun experience and I can only imagine the hurt and disappointment you are feeling right now. I've had a lot of friends who had to take it more than once, and they all said they felt much more confident and less nervous the second time because they already had mastered so much of the material and they knew they just needed to earn a few more points.

Brooke said...

Sorry to hear about all the stress and pain. :(

A-C said...

five tomatoes--I think your friends are on to something. I just recently sent in my application and for the first time around I was terrified and worried that I would never be able to learn enough to pass. Right now (at least) I'm not terrified in terms of the material. I did it once and by being so close, I know that I knew enough to pass. Just have to take better care of myself and study all over again.

Brooke--thanks! it helps :)

lawyerdoll said...

Ouch- my condolences. That must be awful. Since you were so close, I'm confident you will pass next time. Good luck!

gina said...

I'm so sorry. Given how close you were to passing and that you were in physical discomfort during the exam, I'd be shocked if you didn't pass next time around. Still, the waiting, preparing again, not to mention the actual test-taking experience, all having to be repeated. Sucks. I'm so sorry.

A-C said...

thanks gina. It sucks, but it'll be over in Feb.

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