I Failed The Florida Bar Exam. What Should I Do?
You’ve received your bar exam results only to learn that you’ve failed the Florida Bar Exam. This is an incredibly disappointing moment. You may not know how to share this news with family and friends or how to proceed next. Below we provide you with advice on the process of having to study and sit for the bar exam again.
I Failed The Florida Bar Exam. What Should I Do?
1. Carefully review your score report.
The minimum passing average scaled score on the Florida Bar Exam is 136. The exam is separated into two parts (Part A and Part B). Part A is completed on the first day of the exam and consists of three one-hour essay questions and a three-hour Florida multiple-choice section of 100 questions. Part B, the MBE, is completed on the second day of the exam. Parts A and B are each worth 50% of the overall score. In Florida, there are two possible ways to pass the bar exam – the Overall Method and the Individual Method.
Under the Overall Method, an applicant must complete Parts A and B of the exam during the same administration and receive an average scaled score of 136 or better. This means that an examinee does not have to receive a 136 on each part of the exam. Rather, the examinee’s scores on each part of the exam must average to at least 136. Essentially, a higher MBE score may help boost your score if you do not perform as well on the first day of the exam.
Under the Individual Method, an applicant who failed one part of the exam but passed another part of the exam during a prior administration may choose to retake the part of the exam that he or she previously failed. Applicants who take the bar exam for the first time may also choose to use the individual method of scoring, provided that the examinee takes Part B (MBE). If applicants elect this scoring method, the examinee must obtain a passing score on each part. Essentially, an applicant must receive –at a minimum– a scaled score of 136 on Part A and a scaled score of 136 on Part B. Here, a higher MBE score cannot be used to help boost your score on Part A of the exam.
To determine how close you were to passing the exam depends on which scoring method you choose. See whether you performed better on Part A or Part B of the exam. This will help you decide where you need to change your study strategy.
Note: You cannot appeal your bar exam score. All essays (Part A) or overall scores that are close to the pass/fail line are automatically regraded. However, applicants can request to have their Part A results hand scored for free upon written request to ensure that their reported scores are accurate.
2. Determine whether you will redo one part of the exam or retake the entire exam.
To determine your approach to the upcoming exam, you must figure out where you missed out on points on the last exam. How you performed on each section will help you decide whether to retake the entire exam or only one part. Also keep in mind that “Statisticians indicate that applicants may find it slightly easier to pass utilizing the Overall Method in that the passing grade under this method would be an average scaled score at or above the passing score on Parts A and B, as opposed to the applicant who takes the examination utilizing the Individual Method that requires a passing score on each part.
Nevertheless, the Examiners will not penalize an applicant who achieves a passing scaled score on one part of the exam and fails the same part during a future administration under the Overall Method. The Examiners state: “The applicant will retain the passing status even if he or she on a subsequent administration does not achieve a passing score on the part previously passed.”
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, we recommend ordering your answers to the essays in accordance with the rules set forth by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. While no one wants to see relive his or her mistakes, this is an invaluable step. You might learn that you need to memorize the black letter law more carefully, tweak your organizing, or work on your timing. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you to decide what your next step should be.
3. Assess how you studied to determine why you did not pass the exam.
Figuring out why you didn’t pass is not something you want to do right after receiving your score report. Take some time for yourself and when you are ready, critically evaluate how you prepared for the exam. You want to ask yourself a number of questions, including:
- Did you study effectively and productively?
- Was the bar prep course you used (if at all) helpful in preparing you for both the MBE and written portion of the exam?
- Did you practice using real MBE questions and real essay questions?
- Did you do enough timed exams?
- For the most highly tested issues, did you memorize the black letter law?
Please check out our post for a comprehensive list of questions to ask yourself. No one knows the answers to these questions better than you do and it is an important step in figuring out your approach to the next exam.
Note: If you did not take a look at the study guides that the Examiners publish for the Florida section (Part A), it would be a good idea to do so if you plan to retake Part A or the entire exam. The study guides include essay questions from two prior exams, sample answers to the essay questions, and sample multiple-choice questions. These study guides are available for free and are an invaluable resource.
4. Consider what bar prep options are available to you for the upcoming exam.
If you want a passing score on the next bar exam, change your approach!
We do not recommend you do the same thing twice. You want a different result, so why would you try the same approach again? And we truly do not recommend you take your commercial course again and you can read more about that here . . .) You need to do something different if you want a different (and passing) result on the next bar exam you take.
Please contact us if you are looking for alternative study options!
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