Five Reasons You May Have Failed The Bar Exam
It is very common to feel like failing the bar exam is the end of the world. Remember, though, that it most definitely isn’t! If you failed the bar exam, make sure you keep things in perspective. This is just one bump in the road and it certainly isn’t a sign of what is to come.
Five Reasons You May Have Failed The Bar Exam
After you’ve gotten past the shock that you failed the bar exam, it is time to start thinking about what you can do differently next time. After all, you can’t expect a different result if you study the exam same way you studied for the prior exam. If you do what you did, you will get what you got!
It is important to reflect on why you might have failed the bar exam so that you don’t make the same mistakes twice. Here, we cover five reasons you may have failed the bar exam.
1. You didn’t know the law.
Learning the nuances of the law is one of the most overlooked steps of bar exam preparation. Many students do not begin learning the law (i.e., memorizing outlines) until the last few weeks of bar prep. This is way too late!
It is not enough to just read over your outlines multiple times in the hopes that you have absorbed the material. You need to interact with your outlines so that you actually have the law memorized. If you failed the bar exam, it is possible that you weren’t able to recall the proper rules with ease when you needed to. Try working with small chunks of your outlines at a time and trying to replicate them from memory. Do this repeatedly until you have the chunk memorized. Have friends or family quiz you so that you know you have the ability to call up the law from memory. We have many blog posts that can help with memorization! Check out this post on how to memorize bar exam outlines and this post with bar exam memorization tips to get started!
2. You didn’t practice writing actual essays.
Another reason that you may have failed the bar exam is that you didn’t practice writing out enough essays. Many commercial courses only assign a couple of practice essays throughout the entire course. This is not enough practice! Success on the essays requires repetition to get a feel for timing, structure, and level of detail necessary to gain a high score. You need to practice identifying the relevant facts from the fact pattern. You need to practice writing out the rules in a concise manner (which can also help with memorization!). Practicing actually writing out many essays will greatly help you come exam day!
3. You didn’t practice using real MBE questions.
Besides practicing writing full essays, you should also be practicing using real MBE questions! Many commercial courses write their own questions instead of using ones that come from actual prior MBEs. We hear from many students that they felt unprepared for the MBE section when only preparing with commercially-created MBE questions. Practicing with real questions allows you to get a feel for the writing style, length, difficulty, etc. that you will actually see on the bar exam. Thus, this could contribute to why you failed the bar exam.
We pride ourselves in offering our students a substantial number of real MBE questions to use in their practice. You can purchase some of our real MBE questions here and read more about other sources for real MBE questions here!
4. You didn’t practice your timing.
You might have noticed a theme here: practice! If you failed the bar exam, it is critical to make sure you are practicing the right way! Now, it is one thing to practice dozens of essays and hundreds of real MBE questions. However, you also need to be practicing your timing! Many students fail the bar exam for timing reasons. Students tend to see this a lot on the MPT portion–since many students do not complete that many practice MPTs prior to the actual exam. The good news is that you know this now, so you can correct it for the next exam.
At least once before the bar exam, you should take a full timed exam. Do a complete morning and afternoon MBE session, as well as a complete writing session in whatever format your jurisdiction uses. You need to be familiar with testing conditions – you don’t want your first experience with this to come on exam day!
It is also a good idea to work up to full testing conditions. Do shorter chunks of timed MBE questions and time a few essays consecutively. Then build up to full-length practice exams. This will make you feel more confident in your ability to finish when you sit down on exam day!
Looking for more timing tips?
- Check out our MEE timing tips here.
- Check out our MBE timing tips here.
- Check out our MPT timing tips here.
5. You didn’t follow a study plan.
One final reason you may have failed the bar exam is that you didn’t create and/or stick to a study plan. The bar exam tests on an incredibly expansive amount of material. It takes a while to devote enough time to learning everything that you need to. Developing a study schedule at the beginning of your bar prep, and then sticking to it, is critical to your success! It is important to set aside time for learning the law (i.e., lectures), memorizing the law, applying it in practice problems, and practicing timed exams. If you don’t have a plan for how to fit all of this in before exam day, you could easily run out of time!
Creating a solid plan will help relieve your anxiety as you will always know whether you are on track. If you’re taking the Uniform Bar Exam, be sure to check out this post on how to create a UBE study schedule. For a more detailed plan, check out this post on how to create a daily bar exam schedule!
Note: you are not alone if you failed the bar exam. You are actually in quite good company! See a list of famous people who failed the bar exam here!
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