I Failed the New York Bar Exam - What Should I Do? JD Advising
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I failed the New York bar exam. What should I do?  If you failed the New York bar exam, you are not alone! Thousands of examinees fail every administration. In this post, we give you a step-by-step approach on what to do if you failed the New York Bar Exam.

Update: If you failed the New York Bar Exam, check out our course options — they are very high quality and different than a standard commercial course! Also, read this excellent and free guide on what to do if you failed the Uniform Bar Exam

Failing the bar exam can be awful but having a plan can make a huge difference and help you get over the shock, disappointment, and other emotions that come with failing.

I failed the New York Bar Exam! What should I do?

1. First, take a break.

Failing the bar exam is very tough to go through. You will feel depressed, angry, sad, annoyed, among many other emotions. Check out our very popular note to those who failed the bar exam, quotes for those who failed the bar exam, and a list of famous people that failed the bar exam — you are not alone!

You should also spend time with supportive friends and family and do whatever you need to relieve stress. If you find yourself slipping into a deep depression, seek professional help.

It is best to take, at a minimum, a few days “off” after you fail the New York bar exam. In other words, don’t start studying the day you find out you failed! If you do so, your studying probably won’t be that effective. Further, you are more likely to burn out.

2. Second, examine how you performed on exam day.

Once you have started to feel a little bit better about results, we recommend taking the time to figure out what your New York bar exam score report says. You can read more about how to dissect your NYBE score report in this post. (Note: for July 2020 examinees, due to COVID, your results will not look exactly like this since the traditional UBE was not administered!)

We also have a picture below if you are looking for a quick overview of what your New York bar exam score report means.

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The minimum passing scaled score on the New York Bar Exam (a UBE jurisdiction) is 266 (out of a possible 400 points). Your overall score can be broken down as follows:

  • the MBE is worth 50%,
  • the MEE is worth 30% and
  • the MPTs are worth 20%.

Essentially, you want to aim for a scaled score of 133 on the MBE and 133 on the written portion of the exam (MEE & MPT). See how far away you were on each section from a scaled score of 133. See whether you performed better on the MBE or the written section – this will help you decide where you need to change your study strategy.

Answer these questions when you look at your score report:

  • What did you fall short on, the essays or MBE or both? (Be honest with yourself here! Many students assume they struggle with the MBE, when in fact sometimes their essay scores are lower!)
  • How does your MBE score look? Your NYBE score report will now tell you how you performed in each subject! The lower your percentile is, the worse you did. The higher it is, the better you did. So if you scored “5.0%” in Torts, that means you only scored higher than 5 percent of examinees with respect to the Torts questions. So you need to improve your Torts score. If your overall number is “40” that means you scored higher than 40% of students taking the MBE.
  • Note that the essays and MPTs are graded using a scale of 20-80, with 50 as the mean. Thus, to see how close you were to passing a particular MEE or MPT, see how far away you were from a scaled score of 50.
  • How were your MPT scores?
  • Did you run out of time on any of the sections?
  • How far were you away from passing?

Your score report can tell you a lot of useful information. You may have done better on one section than expected and worse on others. Also, make sure to examine your overall score. The farther away you were from a passing score, the more you need to revamp your approach for the next exam. Also, the more times you have taken the exam, the more you will have to modify your approach moving forward.

Even if you are quite far from passing, it is still possible to pass the New York Bar Exam! We help students make great strides every administration. So, do not be discouraged!

Order your Essay and MPT answers:

To determine your approach to the upcoming exam, it is necessary to figure out where you missed out on points on the last exam. Therefore, we recommend ordering your answers to the essays and MPT in accordance with the rules set forth in the letter from the New York State Board of Law Examiners explaining your results. Although no one wants to relive his or her mistakes, this is an invaluable step. You might be surprised to learn that you can increase your essay score by making some changes to your organization. Or you might learn that you missed out on points because you neglected to discuss issues that you didn’t consider important. Or you might discover that you had timing issues. Regardless, knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you to decide what your next step should be.

Examinees have 60 days from the time they receive their letter detailing their results to order the following information: 1) Copies of your MEE & MPT Answers ($40); 2) Copies of MEE Questions & Synopsis of MPTs ($15); and 3) Selected Candidate Answers ($15). To request one or more items, examinees must make a written request to the New York State Board of Law Examiners (Corporate Plaza – Building 3, 254 Washington Avenue Extension, Albany, NY 12203). The fees for the requested item(s) must be submitted using a certified check or money order.

Note: You cannot appeal your New York bar exam score. New York does not regrade exams. Students scoring between 262 and 265 are automatically regraded prior to results being released. So even if you come close to passing, an appeal is not an option according to the New York rules. (We have talked to some examinees who have tried to appeal results regardless but unfortunately, these examinees have not been successful.)

3. Take an inventory of your personal preparation.

Now that you have looked at the actual exam day, it is time to zoom out and ask yourself some hard questions about how you prepared for the exam.

  • How did you prepare?
  • Did you spend enough time preparing?
  • Were you studying when you were at your “best”?
  • Were you studying efficiently? (E.g. if you listened to lectures all day, did this help you?)
  • Did you practice using released MBE questions? (Most commercial courses do not provide released questions). What about released MEE and MPT questions?
  • How many timed exams did you take? Did you take enough timed exams?
  • Be honest with yourself: Did you practice enough MPTs? (Many students don’t!)
  • Are there certain subjects you never felt confident about?

While these questions may not be fun to answer, they are necessary to figuring out what you need to do to pass the next exam. If you are not sure why you failed the bar exam, check out this list of common reasons that students fail the Uniform Bar Exam.

4. Decide what you will change so you pass the next exam.

The biggest mistake we see repeat takers make is that they do the same thing again and they expect to pass the second time they take it. That is why many students come to us after taking the bar exam three, four, or five times — and they all say they wish they would have changed their approach earlier!

So with that said, if you are going to repeat the bar exam, we truly do not recommend you take your commercial course again and you can read more about that here.

Instead, look at the information you learned in Step 1 (that is how you performed on exam day) and Step 2 (that is, how you prepared) and decide what you need to focus on.

For example, if you received a score above 133 on the MBE but fell short on the MPTs, making the MPTs your focus may do the trick. However, if you received a low overall score and fell short on all portions, you may need extensive help.

Below, we have some of our services that we offer to students who failed the New York bar exam. Our most popular services include our on demand UBE course, our New York bar exam private tutoring, and our one-sheets!