Do I need a bar exam tutor to pass the bar exam?
Not everybody needs a tutor to pass the bar exam. Not even everybody that has failed the bar exam in the past needs a tutor to pass the bar exam (although they are more likely to benefit from a bar exam tutor).
In this post, we briefly discuss some of the benefits of having a bar exam tutor as well as our general recommendation regarding which factors to consider when deciding whether to retain a tutor for the bar exam. Note that we always make evaluations on a case-by-case basis when students come to us and ask if they need tutoring (and we encourage you to contact us if you are unsure!). However, the factors below should give you a general idea of how likely you are to benefit from a bar exam tutor. Before we discuss the factors to consider, we’ll list the benefits of having a bar exam tutor.
Do I need a bar exam tutor to pass the bar exam?
Benefits of Having a Bar Exam Tutor
A good bar exam tutor can be invaluable for the following reasons:
- A tutor can explain fundamental concepts to you in a one-on-one environment. Some students benefit enormously from this alone as many students report finding it difficult to learn by filling in blanks on a lecture handout when they are in a room with a hundred other students.
- A tutor can give you a completely new and different approach to the bar exam (which may be exactly what you need, especially if you are a repeat taker).
- A tutor can provide you with better materials. We have fantastic MBE and essay outlines (for both the MEE and Michigan). To see an example of our MEE outlines, please click here. They are well-organized, aesthetically pleasing, an excellent tool for visual learners, and provide the hands-down most efficient approach to bar exam preparation.
- A tutor can teach you how to study so that not only are you learning a lot while you are with the tutor, but you also make the most of your “outside” time when you are studying alone.
- A tutor can teach you innovative techniques and strategies for answering essay or multiple-choice questions.
- A tutor can keep you accountable if you are falling off track or not working hard enough.
- A tutor can give you invaluable feedback on your essay answers and the work you submit.
- A tutor can answer any questions you have about the bar exam and the law. The likelihood is that if you are asking the question, others have asked the question before you, too!
- A tutor may be able to see areas of weakness better than you can and come up with a plan to conquer those weaknesses.
- A tutor can make a good study schedule for you so you know exactly what you need to do to pass the bar exam. A tutor can break down a seemingly insurmountable amount of work into small, manageable chunks.
- Importantly, a tutor is your ally who gives you encouragement when you feel anxious or stressed out and keeps you focused.
Some people think it is worth paying for a tutor up front simply to maximize their chances of succeeding on the bar exam. They find it cost-effective as it helps them avoid failing the bar exam (and then having to delay starting their legal careers for 6 or more months). It also helps them avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with taking the bar exam.
A tutor can clearly be beneficial. But there is a big difference between “Will I benefit from a tutor?” and “Do I need a tutor?” Let’s next discuss who is more likely to need a tutor. Here is our general recommendation for bar exam students:
Many first-time takers pass the bar exam without the help of a tutor. However, you may need a bar exam tutor if:
- You graduated near the bottom of your law school class.
- You struggled a lot in your first-year courses (the bar exam emphasizes the material learned in the first year of law school).
- You did not take a lot of bar exam-specific material during your second and third years of law school.
- You plan on working (or who have a similar time-consuming obligation) during bar prep.
- You benefit from one-on-one instruction and you do not learn well from large lectures and filling in the blanks on lecture handouts.
We take on several first-time takers each bar exam who meet one or more of these criteria. Many of them admit they would not have passed with a commercial bar prep course alone.
Note that if you are a first-time bar exam taker and decide to hire a tutor, we will make sure that tutoring sessions serve as a supplement to your commercial course and we will plan our sessions around your commercial course schedule.
Repeat takers are more likely to need a tutor than first-time takers. Whether you need tutoring depends on (1) how many points you were away from passing; (2) how many times you have taken the bar exam, and (3) what the circumstances were of your bar preparation and bar exam day. These factors are detailed below:
Factor #1: How Many Points You were Away from a Passing Score.
Generally, students that get scores that are only a few points off (between 1 and 10 points in Uniform Bar Exam states) need less tutoring than students who receive lower scores. However, even some of these students end up having to take the bar exam more than twice if they don’t retain a tutor prior to their second exam.
If you were farther away from passing (between 10 and 24 points in Uniform Bar Exam states) you would likely benefit from a tutor that you met at least once a week.
If your score was even lower (approximately 25 points off or more), you would likely truly benefit from a tutor you met more than once a week. Further, it would benefit you to meet the tutor before the traditional bar preparation period begins.
This, of course, is only one factor to take into account. However, it is very important to seriously consider your score. In many cases, this factor ends up being the most important one.
Factor #2: How many times you have taken the bar exam.
If you have taken the bar exam and failed it once before, you could likely benefit from a tutor to ensure that you pass the second time; however, you are less likely to need a tutor (especially if you received a relatively high score) than someone who has taken the bar exam several times.
If you have taken the bar exam twice, three, four, or more times, you should strongly consider retaining a bar exam tutor. The more times you have failed the bar exam, the more you could benefit from a tutor. A tutor can give you a different approach to the bar exam, give you a deeper understanding of the law, and help you to make the most of your study time. After all, if you do the exact same thing to prepare for every bar exam you should not expect to get a dramatically different score. A tutor may be just the change you need to change your bar exam score to a passing one.
Note: we have some students who come to us who have taken the bar exam five or more times and have been within five or ten points of passing the bar exam (but have not passed it!) each time. If you are in this boat, you should strongly consider hiring a tutor to get past the bar exam once and for all!
Factor #3: Other Circumstances.
Lastly, it is important to compare your preparation period last time to this time. Examine both your preparation period as well as the exam day.
Bar Exam Preparation Period: Did you have an unusual preparation period for your previous bar exam attempt(s)? Did you have to work a lot? Did you have family emergencies or unplanned-for occurrences?
Bar Exam Day: Did you have a bad bar exam day? Were you sick? Could you not sleep? Did you not finish the test?
After you consider your circumstance for the last bar exam, ask yourself these two questions:
- Question #1: Did these extenuating circumstances truly affect how you did the bar exam? Working full time during your preparation period or having the stomach flu on the days you took the bar exam may have seriously affected your score.
- Question #2: Will your situation change by the time you prepare for or take the next bar exam?
If working full time really caused you to not put in the time to study, can you work less? If so, this may reduce the likelihood of you needing a tutor. If you will be working the same amount, you likely need a tutor.
Another thing to consider is the circumstances for the upcoming bar exam. If you took the full two months off for bar prep the first time you took the exam and failed and now you are working full time and you cannot take time off, this weighs in favor of you acquiring a tutor.
I Think I Need a Bar Exam Tutor…Who can I contact?
If you think you may need a tutor for the upcoming bar exam – or if you are not sure – please feel free to contact us here. We are very honest with students about whether they need tutoring and, if so, how much tutoring they require. Further, all of our consultations are 100% free and 100% confidential. We just want you to pass the bar exam!
I Don’t “Need” a Bar Exam Tutor…Should I get one anyway?
Some students who come to us for bar exam tutoring do not “need” tutors (and we are the first to tell them!) They could pass the bar exam without a tutor. However, they hire a tutor anyway using the logic that: A tutor can save them time, provide them with materials, point them in the right direction, answer all of their questions, and help them study in the most efficient, stress-free way possible. Thus, even if you do not need a tutor, you still may benefit from meeting with one a few times. And you are welcome to contact us if you want to hear more!
Go to the next topic, Topic 2: Advantages of hiring a bar exam tutor.
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