Goal Setting Your way to Passing the Bar Exam!

by Dustin on

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the famous Harvard survey.  They found that only 3% of the graduating class of Harvard 1979 would write down their goals in life.  They then surveyed those graduating members 10 years later.  Those 3% that set goals ended up having ten times the amount of wealth the other 97% had combined!  Get the idea?

3 Steps to Bar Exam Goal Setting


The mind likes to be focused.  If you can tell your mind exactly what you want, it will help you get there.  It’s like a car, wherever you steer it, it wants to go.

So, lucky for you, this goal setting session won’t be filled with these type questions, “What are you interests?”, “What are you passionate about?”, “If you were an animal, which animal would you be?”   For the purpose of the bar, you don’t need to discover what it is you want and then try and get specific about it.  You already know.

You want to pass the bar exam! So, let’s write down our goal and utilize some affirmation-inspired language to help you get there.

Step 1:  Write what we want

Let’s write what we want, as if it’s a year from now and you are telling your friends something that has already happened in the past.  “Hey, you know how cool I am?…

I, ___(your first and last name)_____ , passed the _(exam month)__   _(exam year)_ bar exam!”

Yep, it’s already in the past.  And the more your mind thinks this is something that has already occurred, it will lead your thoughts and instincts towards making it an already-created reality.

Now, do make sure you fill in the blanks (or write the whole thing out yourself), and you read it to yourself out loud, in front of the mirror, three times every day or have it written out in front of you when you’re studying.

Step 2:  Write Why we want it

Why? Why? Why?

Some of you may have heard of this phrase.  When you’re analyzing a fact on a bar exam answer, you’re supposed to ask ‘Why? Why? Why?’ about each fact to determine its significance.

However, here we are asking Why? Why? Why? because it will be very beneficial for you to know “Why Why Why you want to pass the bar exam?”

This ‘why’ will be what propels the ‘what’ we made in Step 1.  Knowing why you want to pass the bar will be what keeps you ticking for the seven or more weeks of bar prep.

When creating your list of “why’s,” also know that human beings are motivated primarily by 1) Possibility of success and 2) fear of failure.

So, now we ask, why do you want to pass the bar exam?
Yes, it may be obvious to you, but make sure you write down at least three reasons why you want to pass the exam.  Once you put it in writing, your subconscious and the universe gets to work in helping you.

So with that in mind, start writing why.  You can choose your own reasons, and here are some that can help you kick start it:

  1. Because I don’t want to take it again
  2. Because I don’t want to feel embarrassed
  3. Because I want to practice law
  4. I want to make lots and lots of money
  5. I want to make my family proud
  6. My girlfriend will leave me if I don’t pass
  7. My firm will say peace out to me if I don’t pass
  8. I don’t want to waste another two months studying
  9. I don’t want to be the only one amongst my friends that doesn’t pass
  10. My mom will give me a $1,000 if I pass
  11. I have a huge debt that I want to start paying off
  12. I find out the results on my birthday and that would just suck not to pass on my birthday
  13. I find out results the day I graduate and I’d better friggin pass!

Step 3: What will you do once you pass the exam?

For those of you who have read Paulo Coelho’s book The Pilgrimage, you’ll know the protagonist was unable to accomplish his ultimate destiny and find his sword, until he answered the question for himself: “What will you do with the sword once you have it?”

The same applies here.  What will you do with your legal license once you have it?  Here are some examples:

  1. Contribute to the legal community
  2. Represent my clients to the best of my ability
  3. Be competent in my representation
  4. Defend the underprivileged

Again, some of these may seem obvious, but it’s important to write it down and make a promise with yourself and the universe as to some of the standards and actions you are going to have and do once you obtain a sword as powerful as a legal license.

This step might seem similar to the ‘why’s.’  The ‘why’s’ are reasons for passing the bar.  This section is more about the standards you set for yourself.  If you come from the perspective of, “If I have already passed the bar exam, what kind of attorney am I now going to be?” this will put you directly into the mindset of already being an attorney with passing bar results.

So, write down three standards you promise you will do once you have your license and put it next to your goal and reasons why you want to pass.

There are more specifics you can add and do for goal setting, but these techniques and a persistent work ethic should go a long way in helping you pass your bar exam!  Best of luck!

I wish you success in passing your bar exam!
“This name appears on the pass list”

“Like the eye of a hurricane, he stayed calm and ready while all else around him was in disarray”


Amazing Harvard Study about setting Goals


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Yes, I want My Free Guide!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ariesofwar November 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm

This is great. Best part is how it isn’t restricted to law students ;) Definitely be referencing this in the near future.


2 ariesofwar November 30, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Could you maybe follow up with a post about visuals and how you recommend making them?


3 Dustin August 9, 2012 at 10:29 am

Sure, check out the Bar Exam Mental Edge program which uses helps students visualize their results using the latest techniques of mind visualization. Visit http://www.ipassedmybarexam.com/barexammentaledge to get it!


4 helpotherssucceed December 2, 2010 at 9:00 am

Keep in mind one of the most important steps is to write a list of specific action items that you must take to reach your goal. I didn’t include these because hopefully most students will be taking a bar prep course, which will lay out an action plan for the students.


5 ItsMsNicole May 5, 2011 at 3:13 am

I came across this website during a twitter search for “bar exam”. The articles helped me immensely when I needed a break from studying for the February 2011 exam. One of the first things I did was make a “This name appears on the pass list” sign with my name under it. I posted it on a cork board so that I woke up seeing it every morning. Then I stuck post-it notes several places in my house with similar affirmations like “I passed the February 2011 bar exam”, “Congratulations Counselor!”, “You look like an Attorney!”. “I passed the Bar Exam” was on my desktop. It really helped to focus my mindset on the task before me.

By the way, my name appeared on the PASS list. Best of luck to you all. See you on the legal side.


6 Dustin May 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm

That is great news! Glad to help. Congratulations! :)


7 Matt July 14, 2011 at 6:34 am

Great post, Dustin. I especially think your third step — and the Coelho anecdote — is especially valuable and insightful. So often we go through life on auto-pilot, seeking goals but not really understanding why or for what purpose. I agree that when we determine the purpose toward which we are working, the work will happen and the goal will be realized.


8 Dustin July 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Thanks Matt. That’s a great thought, and I hope people check out your great bar exam blog as well at http://www.barexammind.com


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