I Failed The Illinois Bar Exam. What Should I Do?
Updated for the 2019 Illinois bar exams and beyond. Illinois bar exam results are out! Let’s say it is the worst-case scenario: You’ve received your bar exam results only to learn that you’ve failed the Illinois 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 some advice on the process of having to study and sit for the bar exam again.
I Failed The Illinois Bar Exam. What Should I Do?
1. Carefully review your score report.
The minimum passing scaled score on the Illinois Bar Exam is 266 (out of a possible 400 points). Your overall score breaks down as follows: the MBE is worth 50%, the essays are worth 40% and the MPT is worth 10%. Essentially, you want to aim for a scaled score of 133 on the MBE and 133 on the written portion of the exam (IEE, 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. For more information on the components of your score, check out our post on how to review your Illinois score report. We explain how to use the following percentile equivalent chart and what it means:
Also, check out this video on how to dissect your MBE score using the Illinois percentile equivalent chart.
2. Order your answers to the essays and MPT portion of the exam.
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 by the Illinois Board of Admissions. While no one wants to relive his or her mistakes, this is an invaluable step if you failed the Illinois bar exam. You can increase your essay score with some tweaks in organization. You might learn that you missed out on points because you neglected to discuss issues that you didn’t consider important. Or you might learn that timing was your problem. Regardless, 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 failed the Illinois bar exam is not something you want to do right after receiving your score report. Take some time for yourself and when you are ready, sit down and critically evaluate how you prepared for the exam. You want to ask your self a number of questions, including:
- Did you study effectively and productively?
- Was your bar prep course (if you used one) 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?
- How many timed exams did you take?
- Did you memorize the black letter law for the most highly tested issues?
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. It is an important step in figuring out your approach to the next exam.
4. Consider what bar prep options are available to you for the upcoming exam.
The Illinois Bar Exam is incredibly similar to the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)! In fact, 80% of the Illinois Bar Exam mirrors the UBE. (And Illinois will be adopting the UBE officially starting in July 2019. So, if you are retaking the Illinois bar exam, you will not have any Illinois-specific essays to answer!
Some differences between the Illinois bar and the UBE? In Illinois, you are given three Illinois specific essays in addition to the six MEE questions. Also, in Illinois, you only have one MPT to answer instead of two. You don’t want to agonize for weeks over the Illinois specific subjects and forego reviewing the MEE subjects. Therefore, we suggest you look into resources that help you prepare for the Uniform Bar Exam. This will give you an edge in preparing for the Illinois Bar Exam.
We recently had a third-time Illinois taker use our Uniform Bar Exam full-service course and said this:
My score prior to taking this course was a 236. While the bar examiners refuse to release my passing score, at minimum I made a 30 point jump to pass with a 266. I took the exam twice before taking the JD Advising UBE Course. I would highly recommend using this course versus any commercial course like Barbri or Kaplan. If I could go back I would have never signed up for a commercial course. Unlike commercial courses, JD Advising provided UBE outlines that were not as dense and multiple examples after each concept that actually make sense. Since I have trouble memorizing, this was a game changer because I was mentally capable of breaking down the concept and capable of associating the concept/topic with certain scenarios for a practical use on the exam. Moreover, the UBE Course provided actual bar exam essay questions from the past, allowing everyone to practice questions that will likely be brought up on the actual exam. Lastly, the best way to study for this exam is improving your essays through constant feedback, quizzes that force you to memorize, short outlines with easy to learn mnemonics, and a proper strategy to attack the multiple choice which can only be learned through this course.
I received my Illinois Bar Exam results today and I am very happy to share with you that I passed the exam. I greatly appreciate all of your help throughout this process, all of the feedback on my essays, all of the nuanced questions that you were able to answer, and the constant motivation to master this exam. I hope the rest of the class was as lucky as I was.
Below is a recent testimonial of someone who used JD Advising Services to pass the Illinois Bar Exam:
I absolutely cannot thank everyone at JD Advising enough for arming and empowering me to walk in and conquer the February 2017 bar exam. When I reached out to Ashley, I had just found out that I had failed the July 2016 Illinois bar exam…by 8 points. For months, all I could envision was the 258 that received. I needed a 266. I was absolutely devastated and could not even fathom studying for this monster of an exam again (and by myself this time since all my friends had passed and moved on with life). Ashley was so positive and encouraging and I knew from our first conversation that I wanted to work with her and her team to redeem myself after such a traumatic experience.
The first time I took the exam, I took a big box bar review course, but throughout the process I just KNEW things weren’t clicking. I finished about 93% of the course and still felt unprepared. However, when I worked with Ambika as my JD Advising tutor, she was so down to earth, knowledgable and encouraging. My biggest hurdle was conquering the MBE. For some reason I really struggled with multiple choice questions. But the outlines JD Advising provided were succinct, straight to the point, and extremely user friendly. I appreciated the charts, practice problems, colored text, and frequency of topics tested listed in the back. These outlines in addition to Ambika’s suggestion to use Adaptibar, which used only real previously released bar exam questions, made a world of a difference in my scores. I saw steady improvement and finally started thinking like the examiners like Ambika encouraged me to. Although I only had a couple of one-on-one sessions, Ambika checked in on me and promptly responded to each and every email up until the exam in February. After working with JD Advising, I finally felt like this exam was not only doable, but that I WOULD pass without a doubt. It can be emotionally scarring failing the bar exam, but having a support team of knowledgable and caring individuals like Ashley and Ambika can really remove the sting. I continue to recommend the program to anyone I know who is preparing to take the bar exam. It was one of the best investments I have ever made.
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