Three Tips To Prepare to Receive Your Bar Exam Results
You took the bar exam—the hardest part is over, right? Well, waiting for the results is often an unnerving experience for examinees. During this time, it is to your advantage to have a plan to receive your bar exam results.
Three Tips To Prepare to Receive Your Bar Exam Results
In this post, we’ll tell you:
- How to figure out when to expect to see your bar exam results;
- Things to consider on exam result release day; and
- How to create and use a plan of action based on your bar exam results.
Sometimes you can pinpoint the week, and often the exact date, of when bar exam results in each state will be released. Sometimes a jurisdiction simply announces the exact date and other times they tell you an approximate date to expect results. Still, other jurisdictions seem to release results seemingly at random. Something to consider is that states have varied approaches as to how bar exam results are released. In the anticipation of waiting for results, we are here to remind you that you can absolutely prepare to receive your bar exam results!
1. How do you figure out when to expect to see your bar exam results?
Overall, bar exam results can take anywhere between 1 to 3 months to be graded and released. This generalization still largely holds true, even after all the bar exam irregularities that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You may notice when reading our results release post for the February 2022 bar exam that smaller jurisdictions manage to turn around bar exam results more quickly than jurisdictions with large numbers of examinees. For comparison, North Carolina often has the speediest bar exam results (released in about 4 weeks!), while California has the slowest bar exam results (released in about 14 weeks). (However, this is not always true as some very small states take a very long time to release results, ahem, Rhode Island.)
There are many resources available to students which can help narrow down when your state’s bar exam results will be released. For example, check out JD Advising’s results release post for the February 2022 bar exam. Additionally, many state bar examiner board websites will provide some information on when to expect your bar exam results. Another great resource is your law school, which often tracks this data year to year and can offer a reliable estimate of when bar exam results will be released.
2. What should I consider when planning for my bar exam results release day?
How to know that results were released
Knowing the general timeframe for results is certainly important. But knowing how you will be notified when results are out is another key part of preparing to receive your bar exam results. We recommend reviewing your state board of bar examiners’ website to see how it notifies examinees that bar exam results have been released. Does your state board of bar examiners offer an online portal where you will be notified via a message? Will your state board of bar examiners email you at the email you provided when you registered for the bar exam? Some states publish a list of seat numbers that pass online but then send you official results in the mail.
Many state boards of bar examiners notify examinees in more than one way. This makes sense, given the importance of this information. Don’t be worried or anxious that you will somehow miss the results! In fact, the Florida Supreme Court goes so far as to send a tweet from its authorized Twitter account @flcourts when results have been released and posted on its website!
Determine where to be and who to be with when checking your bar exam results
Something many examinees do not think about before actually checking bar exam results is their surroundings at that time. This is a very important decision to make as you prepare to receive your bar exam results. In what setting do you want to be when you view your results? Do you want to be at home or somewhere else? When practicable, we do not recommend viewing your bar exam results at work because it can often be an emotionally exhausting day. Another point to consider is whether you want to be around other people when viewing your bar exam results or not? Whatever you choose, make sure it works for you!
Make sure to know how your bar exam results are provided
Sometimes, how you’re notified that exam results are out and receiving notification of your specific results can be the same step. This is because some states post a pass list of successful examinee numbers or even names. It is not uncommon for a state board of bar examiners to post a pass list on its website or the state’s supreme court’s website. In fact, many states do this!
Other states will post an update to the examinee’s user page on the website used to register for the bar exam. More rarely, some states even offer a phone number the examinee can call to be told whether they passed or failed. Read through JD Advising’s results release post for the February 2022 bar exam to see how results are released in your state. Additionally, you will learn if your state offers regrades or appeals. Virtually no state (outside of Michigan) has a true bar exam appeals process. Most bar exam scores are considered final.
Further, depending on how your state board of bar examiners releases results, sometimes examinees become aware of results on the day results are released, while other examinees might have to wait an additional day or two. This is particularly true in states where an examinee’s results are posted to their individual user account. This makes sense, as this process takes longer than posting a pass list of names or account numbers to a website. If your state posts results to an individual user account, make sure to periodically check your account the day results are released!
3. How do you create a plan of action based on your bar exam results?
Waiting for bar exam results can certainly be stressful! Use that time to come up with a “Plan A” for if you passed and a “Plan B” for if you failed the bar exam. The day results are released is usually overwhelming for examinees. It is best to prepare your plans of action with a rational mind. Having an action plan based on your results will give you a sense of how to proceed. Also, you’ll feel more confident in your study approach!
You passed the bar exam! Congratulations! You deserve to celebrate your achievement! However, please be mindful that there are individuals that failed the bar exam. Here are some best practices related to passing the bar.
- First, don’t ask individuals in public or in private if they passed—if someone wants to share that information with you, they will!
- Second, if a friend tells you they did not pass, be a listening ear, rather than a “fixer.”
- Third, put yourself in the shoes of someone who failed the bar. This will help guide you on how to provide advice.
If you find out that you failed the bar exam, don’t panic! You’re forward-thinking and have a Plan B all set as you prepared to receive your results. First, it’s important to realize that failing the bar exam is a common occurrence. In some states, half of the examinees will fail the bar exam in any given administration! Don’t beat yourself up—instead, dust yourself off and put your Plan B into action.
We understand that many students who fail the bar exam feel isolated. And examinees begin to doubt their abilities. While these feelings are normal and valid, remember the big picture, and not the minor details. Failing is not the worst thing that could happen. And failing will not affect the rest of your life. For more advice on this, check out JD Advising’s Note to Those Who Fail the Bar Exam.
Get in the right mindset!
Prepare to get into the right mindset for your “Plan B.” We understand that the thought of needing to study for the bar exam again can be daunting! Many repeat bar exam takers struggle with getting motivated because they have convinced themselves that they will make the same mistakes again. But here are a few things to keep in mind to help reframe your mindset:
- First, many people fail the bar exam. It is not just you and you are not alone. Very successful people have failed the bar exam (including Presidents, Vice Presidents, and more!)
- Unlike your first round of studying, you are not starting from scratch—in fact, you’re at an advantage! You have already taken the bar exam once, you know what to expect, and you have your scores—so you know exactly where you need to improve.
- Remember that repeat takers pass the bar exam every single administration!
- You already have very useful information—how you did on your last exam. Use this powerful data to your benefit.
- You already know what to expect when taking the bar exam. This is a common cause of first-time bar takers’ jitters.
- Things that did not work in your favor on the bar (such as time management) can be improved—we promise!
- Importantly, this opportunity will help you cultivate resilience and grit!
Examine Exam Day
Next, prepare to see your exam scores as useful data as part of your “Plan B.” This will require examining your score for each portion of the bar exam. Your MBE score may be provided as just the raw score, as a percentile, or both. If your MBE score only provides your raw score, check out JD Advising’s Detailed Guide to Creating an Action Plan to convert that score to a percentile. Remember, having this data is to your advantage! You will learn what your approximate MBE percentile is and how much that is from passing.
Next, you’ll want to examine your essay score. In UBE jurisdictions, graders score essays on a scale from 1 to 6, with 6 being the highest score. Note that in a UBE jurisdiction, a 4 is typically a passing essay score. If you took the UBE, look at our Detailed Guide to Creating an Action Plan to determine your percentile. If you take note of your MEE scores and get your average (total score for all 6 essays divided by 6), you will be able to see how you do on average as well as how far away that number is from a passing score (usually a 4). Similarly, do the same thing with your MPT scores and determine your average score. This is very useful data that can help you create a practical study plan!
Finally, you’ll want to examine your overall score. This will be helpful to determine where you scored on your exam, and where you need to score to pass. Again, for UBE takers, review the percentile chart on JD Advising’s Detailed Guide to Creating an Action Plan blog.
Let your data speak
Prepare to absorb the information your data is providing—this is crucial for your “Plan B.” You’ll closely review your numbers and have some data to drive your new study plan. In general, you’ll want to know how did you score? Were you only a point or two away from passing? Or were you many points from passing? Again, keep in mind that the data is giving you an understanding of how to prepare for your next bar exam.
Next up, you’ll want to compare your scores across all three portions of the bar exam: MBE, essay grades, and MPT grades. Is there a portion of the bar exam where your score was the lowest? The portion with the lowest score will likely need more of your attention in your new study plan. Doing this comparison will also let you know if one portion of the exam requires much more improvement than others.
Other miscellaneous data
Prepare to absorb less exam-specific data as part of your “Plan B.” Other data to consider when preparing your new study plan is how many times you have taken the bar exam. This can be useful, as you can see your score progress between exams. If you’re a first-time taker, you can change your study approach and significantly raise your score. If you’re a repeat taker and have not noticed much change, you may need to considerably change your study approach.
Another consideration is how you were feeling on the day of the exam. Anxiety or sleep deprivation can affect your exam performance. Feeling unwell can impact your performance as well. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another, and this is a valid consideration! This data can be used to establish better exam day energy and mood.
New Approach & New Study Schedule
Finally, prepare to prepare your study schedule for your “Plan B.” Now you’re ready to embrace a new study approach and create a new study schedule. You should now have a sense of how much you need to study and how much you need to revamp your study approach.
If you’re preparing on your own, it can be daunting to prepare a new two-month study schedule. We have some tips and resources to share! Our Detailed Guide to Creating an Action Plan blog post offers our two-month schedule, links to free resources, and a sample daily study schedule. These resources can be tailored to areas where you need to focus so that your study plan works for you.
If you’re waiting for your bar exam results, we hope this guide helped you prepare to receive your bar exam results in a way that works for you. And we hope this guide can alleviate some of your jitters as you await bar exam results. Good luck!
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