Five Reasons You Will Fail The Bar Exam
Your study approach can influence whether you pass or fail the bar exam. In this post, we will write about five common reasons that even the smartest students fail the bar exam!
Five Reasons You Will Fail The Bar Exam
1. You will follow a cookie cutter approach and you are not a cookie cutter student.
Maybe you never took Evidence or Criminal Procedure in law school. Perhaps you need a lot of help writing essays. Maybe you were stellar at dissecting the law but not so great at the memorizing 2,308,197 rules. Perhaps you did not do very well in law school. Maybe you are going to work full time while you study.
If you have special needs, address them up front. If you know you need help with essay writing, sign up for a course that gives a lot of essay feedback or get a tutor up front. And if you did not take Evidence in law school, don’t dedicate the two days your commercial course allots to evidence. Take a week to study it. And maybe double-up on subjects you are better at or plan on taking extra days over the weekend to learn it.
Whatever you do, if you have special challenges, don’t wait until you fail a bar exam to begin addressing them. That is not a recipe for success.
2. You will probably spend too much time on lecture, freak out three weeks before the exam, and not work on memorization until then.
This is a common reason many people fail the bar exam. Right around July 4th, we get so many calls from bar studiers. And all say the same thing. “I have spent the whole time watching lectures, which didn’t even help me. I didn’t memorize anything. And now I have 20 outlines to memorize in three weeks. What should I do?”
The best thing you can do is set up a memorization and retention schedule so you can start memorizing your bar exam outlines right off the bat. Please do not wait until July. Better yet, if you are reading this before you start studying for the bar exam, check out our tips on how to memorize your bar exam outlines.
3. You won’t focus on the highly tested topics.
If you are tempted to spend days memorizing the rule against perpetuities or mastering present and future interests, you may need to learn how to better allocate your time. For example, present and future interests will compose maybe 2-3 questions on the MBE (and this includes the RAP). Negligence will compose 12-13 questions and is highly tested on state essay exams.
This rule is geared to those perfectionists out there. You cannot be a perfectionist when you study for the bar exam. And before trying to learn everything make sure that you have the highly tested rules down cold!
4. You won’t use real MBE questions.
And, to be fair, this probably isn’t your fault. Most commercial courses do not provide real MBE questions. They invent their own MBE questions instead of providing released questions. Most students do not even know to ask commercial courses whether they provide real MBE questions.
The problem with this is that course-invented questions do not prepare you as well for MBE questions as the released MBE questions. Released MBE questions will be similar in format and style as the real MBE questions. And you will even see some of the same issues re-tested (albeit in a different fact pattern.) Check out our post on where to get real MBE questions here.
5. You will ignore the essay portion of the bar exam.
We cannot tell you how often we see people fail the bar exam because of this approach. Someone will be a stellar writer. They do well in law school but they do not practice at all. Why not? They worry about the multiple-choice portion of the bar exam (the “MBE”).
Many people get so worried about the MBE that all they do is practice MBE questions and obsess over the percentage of questions they answer correctly. They are in great moods when they do well on a practice set of MBE questions. And they have panic attacks when they happen not to do well. And while all of this is going on, they completely ignore the essay portion of the bar exam. They do not practice essays and barely look at their essay outlines. They convince themselves they will be able to “wing it” on the essay day.
But these students are completely blind to this one extremely important fact: If essays are your strength, you can increase your score significantly by working on this strength. With just some effort, you can maximize your essay score with comparatively little effort.
Your MBE score will improve as you put in the time. Each point you earn on the MBE is well earned. There is no shortcut. Your score will increase proportionately with the amount of time you put into it, how well you know the law, and the quality of your practice. It looks like this.
Your essay score, however, can improve substantially with some practice if you are a decent writer and you make it part of your regular study routine to review the highly tested topics and practice. If you are already a good writer, practice will increase your score dramatically.
These are the most common reasons that we see students fail the bar exam. Hopefully, by learning about them ahead of time, you can avoid falling into the same traps that a lot of students fall into.
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