How Do I Know If I Should Defer Taking The Bar Exam?
The bar exam is certainly passable. After all, thousands of students pass the bar exam in any given administration. You do not need to know everything, and you do not need to answer all of the questions correctly in order to pass. That being said, what if you simply do not feel prepared to take the bar exam? If your anxiety is high and you do not feel you know enough material to take and pass the bar exam, you may be considering deferring the exam until the next administration. This is a personal choice, and it is yours alone. In this blog post, we discuss several scenarios that may help you determine whether you should defer taking the bar exam.
How Do I Know If I Should Defer Taking The Bar Exam?
1. You may be too stressed to take the bar.
Exam preparation alone is intense and can take a physical and mental toll on candidates. Combine exam preparation with stressful life circumstances (such as a sudden death, an unexpected illness, or a severe breakdown in close family relationships), and it can make it nearly impossible for you to complete your study materials, understand the law, and memorize your outlines. Even if you are doing all you can to take care of yourself through this difficult time (i.e., if you’re getting sufficient sleep at night, eating well, regularly stretching or exercising, routinely relaxing your mind, incorporating regular study breaks into your schedule, etc.), studying might for the bar exam might still be too much.
If the stress and anxiety associated with your circumstances prevent you from staying focused and retaining information, there is no shame to consider postponing the exam so you can spend some time focusing on yourself during a difficult time. Your health and well-being are important factors in determining whether or not you should defer taking the bar exam!
2. You have not been able to follow your study schedule
Maintaining your bar prep study schedule can be difficult, even when it is realistic, designed to keep you organized, sufficiently covers all testable subject areas, and incorporates regular study breaks. Unless you complete all or most of your course materials, you are not likely as prepared as you need to be. If you have not spent time memorizing and retaining the law, your chances of passing the bar will significantly decrease. If you find that you are significantly behind in your studies, you may want to consider postponing taking the bar exam until the next administration.
3. You have not practiced enough essays
You do not need a perfect score to pass the bar exam. Even so, you may want to consider deferring the exam if you have not been able to cover the testable subjects, memorize your outlines for each of the subjects’ highly tested issues, or complete any practice essays in a timed environment.
Your practice essays should demonstrate that you understand the facts, recognize the issues included, know the applicable principles of law, and show why you arrived at a particular conclusion. Though this process can certainly be intense, it can help prepare you for the essay portion of the bar exam if done regularly. If you have hardly any material memorized in order to complete practice bar exam essays and there is little time before the exam, it may be worth considering deferring until you can commit more time to studying.
4. You have not practiced writing answers to the performance tests
During the course of your studies, you may have read through your materials and watched the lecture videos. When it comes to performance tests, completing practice performance tests and self-grading your answers is the best indicator of whether you’re prepared for the performance test portion of the bar exam. Depending on your jurisdiction, you might face multiple performance tests that account for a significant part of your essay score. For some students, performance tests can be a determining factor in whether they pass or fail the bar exam!
Typically, we recommend that examinees should write at least one timed MPT per study week. JD Advising offers written essay feedback (for a fee), so consider getting professional feedback if you find yourself struggling in your practice sessions. However, if in addition to being behind with your essays, you have not practiced any MPTs prior to the exam, it may be reasonable to consider deferring until the next administration.
5. You have not practiced multiple-choice questions.
You should be able to dissect each multiple-choice question under timed conditions. This means that you can: (1) read the fact pattern and (2) identify the subject being tested; (3) identify the legal issue that is being tested; (4) recall the applicable legal rule; (5) anticipate the answer; and (6) select the correct answer choice. Regarding timed conditions, you should be able to answer about 9 MBE questions every 15 minutes.
Stay encouraged! You do not need a perfect score to pass the MBE. Still, if you are unable to dissect the questions under timed conditions, and your practice scores are not close to the applicable general MBE passing score, you may be unprepared for the MBE. If you haven’t had enough time to study for the MBE, it may be worth your consideration to defer taking the bar exam for the upcoming administration.
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