You are certainly not alone if you fail the Uniform Bar Exam. It happens to thousands of students every single administration. And the good news is, you can retake the exam. The vast majority of Uniform Bar Exam jurisdictions allow you to take the Uniform Bar Exam an unlimited amount of times (see this post if you are curious about the approach your jurisdiction takes). In this post, we give you a step-by-step approach on what to do if you fail the Uniform Bar Exam.
What to do if you Fail the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)
1. Take some time to process results.
Failing the bar exam is devastating. It takes time to process it. You probably feel a mixture of anger, sadness, regret, and a million other things all at once. The good news is if you fail the Uniform Bar Exam (especially a July bar exam, where you likely get results relatively early) you can take some time to process it. You do not need to start studying the day you find out you failed. You will be more productive, motivated, and energized if you take a break first.
The other piece of good news is that you will not be starting from scratch. You certainly learned a lot studying for the bar exam and you can build on that knowledge moving forward. So you are not in the exact same position you were in last time — you know a lot more (and even if you forgot a lot of it, it will come back quickly!) and you have one bar exam under your belt so you know what its like! You also have a lot of information about your personal performance that first-time takers do not have at their disposal, which we discuss in Step 2.
Taking a brief respite will also give you time to plan out your approach and figure out a plan that will put you in the best position to succeed.
2. Examine all of the information at your disposal to best come up with your plan.
The silver lining to failing a bar exam is you will have a lot of information at your disposal. This will help you come up with a precise plan moving forward and, in this way, you are at an advantage in comparison with first-time bar exam takers.
There are a few things you should look at:
First, look at your Uniform Bar Exam score report.
You should closely examine your MBE score and your written score. Please check out this post on how to dissect your Uniform Bar Exam score report. Make sure to examine what approximate percentile you were in for each portion of the exam. Check out this post to see your Uniform Bar Exam percentile for each portion of the exam.
Some students actually feel better when they do this because they scored higher than they thought! Others realize they have a lot of work to do. If you need help dissecting your Uniform Bar Exam score report, please feel free to contact us and we are happy to dissect it for you or answer your questions!
Note that some jurisdictions go above and beyond and give you a breakdown of your percentile on each MBE subject. (Washington and New York are two of the jurisdictions that do this.) This is very helpful information as you can see if you struggle in specific areas.
Next, request your MEE and MPT essay answers if possible.
Most Uniform Bar Exam jurisdictions give you the option of reviewing your multistate essay exam (MEE) answers and multistate performance test (MPT) answers. Some jurisdictions (e.g., New York) will send you your answers upon request (and usually require a small fee to do so). Other jurisdictions (like Washington DC) set up a time where you can go to a specific location and review your essay answers. Unfortunately, some jurisdictions do not allow you to request your essay answers.
If your jurisdiction does, please do so! Usually there is a limited period of time where you can make the request and it truly can be an invaluable source of information.
3. Consider how you studied for the Uniform Bar Exam last time.
While it is never easy to take a close look at your bar exam approach, you probably agree that there are some things that went very well and some things that did not. You will want to examine a few things:
- Your study schedule (were you able to study enough? was your location conducive to studying? were you able to focus when you studied?)
- Your MBE approach (did you memorize your bar exam outlines? did you use released MBE questions? did you practice enough questions? do you understand the law well enough? did you find lecture helpful?)
- Your MEE approach (did you memorize your bar exam outlines? did you use released MEE questions? did you practice enough questions? do you understand the law well enough? did you find lecture helpful?)
- Your MPT approach (did you practice enough MPTs? do you know the difference between the types of MPT tasks? did you dedicate sufficient time to the MPT portion?)
You may also want to consider what went well (and what didn’t go well) during the actual exam. For example, if timing was an issue, maybe you need to incorporate timed exams into your schedule right off the bat.
4. Do not plan on doing the same thing you did last exam to study for this exam.
Do not do the exact same thing you did last time and expect a different result. A lot of students simply repeat their bar review course or fall into the same study mode and they are not successful on future attempts. There are a few reasons that students do this:
- It is (sometimes) free so it is “easy” and “cheap”
- It means they don’t have to reflect on their last bar exam experience, which is not always fun to do
- It is socially acceptable (sometimes your family members, friends, professors, etc. will expect you to do this)
However, even though it may be the easy path, it is not likely to lead to success. If you didn’t pass using that approach once, don’t repeat it and expect a different result. Taking the time up front to come up with a plan tailored to you can make a big difference in your success!
5. Make your new bar exam plan!
- If you did not find your bar exam lectures helpful, do not re-watch them! (Most students do not re-watch bar exam lectures!)
- If you did not memorize the material well enough, focus on memorization
- If you did not use released MBE questions, incorporate real MBE questions into your study schedule
- If you did not spend enough time on the MPT, start focusing on it from day one!
If you are looking for a totally new approach to the Uniform Bar Exam — new outlines, new lectures, new practice problems, and a new source of essay feedback, check out our Uniform Bar Exam full service course or some of the UBE services listed below. We have everything from a full course to private tutoring to resources like MEE one-sheets and MBE practice problems. We specialize in helping repeat takers pass the bar exam and we strive for the absolute highest quality in our products and services.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.
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