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What is the idiom or proverb or phrase for this "hard packing but loose knot"?

For example, you took hard preparation for the exam, but, didn't attend it.

closed as unclear what you're asking by cobaltduck, user140086, Drew, Nathaniel, Mari-Lou A Apr 22 '16 at 20:12

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You could say that it was all for naught:

without achievement or result

I spent a long time preparing for my test, but it was all for naught.

[The Free Dictionary]

  • 2
    Or, "All for nothing" :) – NVZ Apr 22 '16 at 15:16
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Not exactly what you're asking, but you could say that all of your hard work was in vain.

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/in+vain