5 things after failing the bar exam

One of the most discouraging things for people about failing the bar examination is the perceived shame. This is understandable and is something that everyone needs to come to terms with.

The feeling of shame and regret is real. It should never be denied. Dealing with it involves acknowledging that it does hurt and no amount of ice cream can make the feeling go away, at least for now.

22 of my classmates took the bar examination last year (2018) and only one of them has made it to the list of new lawyers this year. Two of them are still in denial, saying it is okay but I know they are not. Failing the bar examination is NOT a small deal. Denying the feeling does not help either; it actually makes things worse.
You failed, yes, and you have to accept that. It is painful. It is humiliating. It is heartbreaking and traumatic. Of course, it is; law school is never a walk in the park. Law books and assigned cases are always too thick, not to mention the sleepless nights, the back pain and the time and money spent on books rather than with family and friends. IT IS PAINFUL AND IT IS NOT FUNNY.

After recognizing the pain and attempting to acknowledge this is a sad moment in your life, there are others things to keep in mind to overcome the shame and help yourself move on.


Many incredibly talented people have failed the bar exam. Even famous lawyers have admitted not passing it the first take. Anyone can fail the bar exam, and it happens to a ton of people.

This year, the national passing rate is 22.07%. News about this has been spread all over the Internet, on TV and on the radio. Others say it is too big; there are those who say it is too small. Whatever it is, though, it is obvious that everybody focuses on this number but forgets that ALMOST 78% OF THE BAR CANDIDATES FAILED. That is around 6,356 out of the 8,158 examinees.

Those who did not make it understandably feel sad and alone but it may help to realize that you are not alone in this struggle. Others have failed too and, like you, they are ready to do it again next time.


I know many lawyers who have taken the bar exam three, four or five times before getting their license to practice law. They are lawyers now and they have the same rights and privileges that first-take passers enjoy. This is especially true now that there is no more any "strike limit" in taking the bar.

Of course, it comes with shame and bitterness inside but it is not the end of everything. You can still try again. If it it your first failure, you should know that there are those who have failed five, six or seven times but are still willing to brave once more this most difficult examination in the Philippines.


Your failure in the examination is not 100% your fault. Of course, there is probably much room for improvement in you but you are not entirely to blame. The bar is an essay-type examinations and answers have to be checked by human examiners one booklet at a time. Needless to say, there many factors that affect the grading system: the examiner's preferences, bias, professional background and physical or emotional factors such as stress, health, mood and many more.

This is not to say that examiners are lazy and unfair, of course not. This simply suggests that your next bar examination should be taken with more care and preparation.


In this failure, you are given the chance to study again and take the bar examination another time. This means that you have another chance to make it to the top, or at least the top ten. It is not clear whether lawyers can retake the bar but, since it is done through a "petition," it is believed that they can no longer do so and, hence, no longer have the chance to pass it with flying colors.

It does not matter what the rule is. You just have to keep in mind that this is no longer your first time to study for the bar examination. You have learned your mistakes and you are ready to build upon what you have already started.

You have a HIGHER CHANCE now of passing the bar than those who will take it with you the first time. Remember this fact and recall as you reread the textbooks and rewrite your notes.


It takes a law student to understand another. Law students know what they have gone through as, quoting Dean Willard Riano, a breed of sui generis individuals and understand how difficult it is to finish law school, take the bar and become a lawyer. They are trained at getting things the wrong way and learning from their mistakes because of the strict study culture in law school.

They know it is okay and you are the only one being too hard on yourself.

They understand you and they mostly likely do not judge you for failing this time. They also know that you now have a bigger chance to pass because of the amount of preparation that you will have put into it by the time the next November comes.