You have heard of Anticipatory Repudiation. Have you ever heard of Anticipatory Excuses to Fail??

Too many people set themselves up for failure.  They take measures to “build in” excuses “just in case” they fail.  (I call them “anticipatory excuses” –what you will say if you fail.)

Some people create anticipatory excuses unconsciously; others do it quite intentionally.  You know what I am talking about:

“If I fail, it’s because I had to take off time to go to that wedding.”  Or,

“If I fail, it’s because I didn’t write enough practice tests.”

No!  Do not make excuses; do not build in excuses.  Ban excuses from your vocabulary and your mind.  Do not let them in, period.

Do everything in your power to pass, and believe you will pass.  If next fall you learn you did not pass, address that then and plan to pass the next  bar exam.  For now, keep it all about passing.

  • If you have social plans this or next month, cancel them.  (Remember the words, “Let’s plan that for August.”  Or, “We’ll do that for sure, in August.”  Or, “I’m in.  What day in August?  I’ll put it in my phone right now.”)
  • If you are not on schedule with your bar review, get on schedule. Catch up.  We are still 6 weeks away from the bar exam.  There is still time now to get back on track.  But, in another few weeks, it will be too late; you will not be able to get back on target if you are too far behind.  So, no excuses.  Get rolling!  Right now.
  • If you are too tired to study well, sleep more.  You must be on and efficient for a long time.  That requires rest, and focus.  Keep you eyes on your goal.  And, get in shape to succeed.  (Eat well, sleep enough, and exercise.)
  • If you don’t understand real property (or any other subject), get a good outline or hornbook, ask a professor for help, grapple with the law and learn what you need to know.  Don’t think for a second you can’t learn it and hope it won’t be tested.
  • If you have friends who are texting you or posting things you “must” read on social media, cut yourself off.  Take a social media break until August.  Remember that these same people will likely be running to ask you for legal advice when you pass the bar exam.  But it will be your life, not theirs, negatively affected if you fail this bar exam.

If you are truly not able to do what it takes to pass the July bar exam, face the music and postpone until February.  There is no shame in delaying. But if you decide to take the exam, be honest with yourself now, while there is still time to get and stay on track.


Author: Sara J. Berman

Sara J. Berman, a graduate of the UCLA School of Law, is a Professor of Law and Assistant Dean at the Touro Law Center. She formerly served as a Director at the Washington DC-based Center for Legal Education Excellence.

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