Can I Predict I Failed The Bar Exam?
“Can I predict I failed the bar exam?” is a common question we get before results are released. The waiting period between taking the bar exam and finding out if you passed can be excruciating! Many students speculate whether or not they passed during this time period. Although no one wants to hear that they did not pass, mentally preparing for that bad news can sometimes make it a little easier to bear. In this post, we provide some hints that you might not have been successful on the exam and should start thinking about preparing for the next administration.
Can I Predict I Failed The Bar Exam?
Keep in mind, just because you did not feel great walking out of the bar exam does not necessarily mean that you failed. Successful students are often used to getting really high grades on exams, which means that they probably know the material really well and walked out of the exam thinking that it went well. You might not feel that same way walking out of the bar exam. Remember, you don’t need to score 100% to pass the bar exam! A passing score for most bar exams is the equivalent of somewhere between 65 and 75%. So, there is plenty of room for error while still achieving a passing score on the bar exam!
Nonetheless, here are some indications that you should prepare for unfortunate news when you receive your results:
1. You did not finish the MBE portion of the exam.
Remember, you do not need to get 100% correct on the MBE portion of the exam to pass. You only need to answer about 65-70% of the questions correctly. However, if you feel like you skipped a lot of questions that you did not know, or left a large chunk of questions unanswered at the end of the exam because you ran out of time, these are signs that the MBE might not have gone as well as it could have.
Additionally, think about how your practice questions were going right before the exam. We recommend that students be scoring between 65 and 70% on practice exams to be able to comfortably walk into the bar exam. If you were consistently scoring below 60% right before the exam, this is another indication that the bar exam could have gone better.
2. You did not finish the essays or MPTs.
If you did not have time to finish the essay portion of the exam, or if you left one or more MPTs incomplete, this could be a sign that you were unsuccessful on the bar exam. On the Uniform Bar Exam, each essay is worth 5% of your total score. So, one bad essay does not necessarily mean that you failed. However, the quality of your other essays does have to be pretty good to make up for that missed essay.
Additionally, each MPT is worth approximately 10% of your total score on the Uniform Bar Exam. If you did not complete one or both MPTs, that could take a significant chunk of points off your score. Again, how you performed on practice MPTs (and whether you were able to match or exceed that performance on the actual exam) could be indicative of your performance on the bar exam.
3. You could not identify the issues tested in the essays.
Sometimes students don’t have time to finish studying all of the testable subjects, hoping that one (or more) essay subjects simply won’t show up. For instance, maybe you overlooked Secured Transactions, hoping that it would not appear on your exam. And then, unfortunately, those unpredictable subjects appeared on your bar exam. This can bring down your average score. Sometimes students even face a scenario where they are unable to detect which subject is being tested on a particular essay. If you faced such a scenario and saw several subjects that you were not prepared for, or even topics within a subject that happened to catch you off guard because you assumed it would not be tested, then this is an indicator that you might not be successful on the exam.
You don’t have to write a perfect answer to each and every essay and MPT to pass the bar exam. Keep in mind that the bar exam is curved. Your essays have to be (generally speaking) as good or better than most of the other examinees in order to achieve a passing score. Think about the practice essays that you completed right before the exam. If you compared them to sample student answers, did you identify the same issues as the other students? Did you provide as much detail in your analysis?
4. You did not put enough time into studying.
If you did not feel great walking out of the exam, think back to the amount of time you spent studying. Ask yourself if you completed a substantial portion of your bar prep course. Did you complete enough practice questions (about 800 MBE questions, 50 essays, and 10 MPTS)? Did you feel like you had a good grasp on most of the material? If you can answer yes to these questions, you are probably in good shape, even if you didn’t feel like you walked out of the exam having passed with flying colors. On the other hand, if you know that you did not put enough time and/or effort into studying for the exam (you were working full time, had other obligations, did not start studying early enough), these are indicators that you might not get the results you want.
Regardless of the reason, if you do not pass the bar exam, keep in mind that it is not the end of the world. Many highly successful individuals did not pass the bar exam the first time they took it but went on to have very successful careers as attorneys! The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and change your approach to studying and taking the exam in the next administration. Here are some links with helpful information about what to do if you failed the bar exam:
- What to do if you failed the bar exam
- A detailed guide to creating an action plan if you failed the bar exam
- Five reasons you may have failed the bar exam
- Failed the bar exam FAQ
We hope this post “Can I predict I failed the bar exam?” was helpful!
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