It’s 12:01 a.m. Your phone dings as an email arrives from the Board of Law Examiners. The bar exam results are here. You nervously open the email and quickly scan through until you see, “We regret to inform you …” Why bother reading any further, you know what it says. A rush of emotion pours over you. Anguish. Embarrassment. Anger. Then questions start popping up. What am I going to tell my parents? Why didn’t I study harder? What is wrong with me? What do I do now?

Over the coming days, people will tell you how Hillary Clinton failed the bar or that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo failed several times, but that won’t make you feel better. You’ll get words of encouragement from friends and family, but that will only make things worse. What you need is a plan…

I have made a name for myself by helping people who were previously unsuccessful pass the bar exam the next time around. From the elderly man who had failed dozens of times and just wanted to close that chapter of his life to JFK Jr., I have worked with them all. And each had the same problem. They all believed that if they just studied a little harder they would be fine on the next go around.

But what I have learned in my 40 years preparing students for the bar exam is that people rarely fail the bar exam because they didn’t know enough law. People fail because they didn’t know what to do with the law they knew. The bar exam is a test of analytical skills, not an exam of who can regurgitate the most law. To score well on an essay or MBE question, you need to understand what the question is asking, identify the issue, and provide the response that the grader is looking for in the answer. Often, the correct answer isn’t the “right” answer. Understanding that difference is key to passing the bar exam.

So how do you learn these test taking skills? If you took a bar review course the first time, it’s possible you qualify for a free “do over” course. However, as Albert Einstein famously said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This time you need to forgo traditional bar review courses and step outside the box. As I have said before, bar review cannot improve your chances of passing the bar exam.

So, here is my advice:

1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Tutoring is usually seen as remedial for those who aren’t smart enough to understand basic concepts. But the reality is that many of the students at the top of the class work with tutors. A tutor is so much more than just someone who goes over your homework. A tutor can help you manage your time, diagnose your problems, and help you break down difficult concepts in your problematic subjects.

2) When it comes to doing questions, quality not quantity is key. The bar examiners wrote each question with a specific answer in mind. To find that answer, you need a method. Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice does. Each state board of law examiners and the National Conference of Bar Examiners release official questions with model or representative answers. Look at what has worked before and why it worked. These aren’t law school essays and while IRAC should be used to outline your answers, it’s not a method for answering questions accurately each time.

3) Don’t sweat the small stuff. You don’t need an A+ to pass the bar exam. Getting a “C” will do just fine. Focus on your strengths and make sure you maximize your score on your strong subjects. The rule against perpetuities is rarely tested. It’s been ruled that it’s not malpractice to not understand it. So don’t go nuts trying to learn it. You know that 2/3s of the Torts MBE questions will be on negligence. Focus on the major topics.

Most of all, if you did fail, don’t panic! While this is likely the first time in your life that you failed at something, it’s just a small speed bump on the way to something bigger. So, take a deep breath (and a shot of whiskey) and come up with a plan.

Feel free to send me your score report if you need help understanding what went wrong.

I’m happy to help anyone get through this. I am here for you.