I Can’t Pass the Bar Exam, What Should I Do?
If you can’t pass the bar exam on your first (or second, or third) take, you’re not alone. The bar exam is notoriously difficult, and many test-takers require multiple attempts before they pass. If you feel like you’ve tried everything but you can’t pass the bar exam, this post is for you! We’ve come up with five steps that can help you cope with failing the bar and prepare you to pass in the future.
I Can’t Pass the Bar Exam, What Should I Do?
1. Take Some Time to Process
When you got the news that you failed the bar exam, you probably felt a mix of emotions, such as those discussed here. When you can’t pass the bar exam, it is totally normal to feel disappointed, frustrated, sad, or however else you felt. These emotions are valid, and it’s okay to take some time to process them. Lean on your friends, family, and the other people in your life you turn to for support. No matter what, remind yourself that this is just the next step in the process, not the end of your legal career!
2. Know You’re In Good Company
The bar exam does not evaluate whether or not you’ll be a good attorney. Many lawyers go on to have successful careers despite failing the bar exam. Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton both failed the bar exam the first time they took it. Spoiler alert: both went on to have incredible careers. At the end of the day, failing the bar exam is just a delay on your path to a career in the law. Check out this list of 20 celebrities that also failed the bar exam and went on to become very successful.
3. Examine Your Previous Attempt(s)
To succeed the next time you take the bar exam, you need to know what went wrong during your initial attempt(s). This means combing through both your test results and your study history. Where was your score the lowest, and where was it the highest? Does that map with how confident you felt about those areas? Don’t forget to think about other factors too — for example, were you feeling burned out by the time test day arrived? Were you dealing with unexpected personal obligations that affected your study or your performance on test day?
If your jurisdiction gives you a score breakdown or report, take full advantage of studying what you did well and what you need to improve upon for next time.
4. Set Your Sights on the Next Bar Exam
In general, we recommend that students take the next bar exam offered. This way, you won’t lose any momentum. In fact, you’ll almost certainly feel more comfortable during your next exam if you already have a bar exam under your belt.
However, if you feel like you can’t pass due to health issues or other obligations, then it may be a good idea to take a bar exam off.
5. Determine Your New Approach
If you can’t pass the bar exam, that is a sign you probably need a new approach. If you didn’t pass on your last attempt, rewatching your recorded bar review lectures probably won’t help you pass on your next attempt! We wrote an entire post on why this doesn’t work for most people and what you should do instead. In short, focus on finding the best materials out there, understanding and memorizing them, and then applying them. You may want to try a different bar review course, individual tutoring, or some of the other highly-rated bar review services we offer.
If you’re unsure where to start when figuring out your new bar exam approach, check out this list of five tips for repeat bar exam takers.
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