Moving On From Bar Exam Failure

If you failed the bar exam, it's time to accept your failure and put yourself in a position to change your outcome.

Studying for the bar exam as a repeater can be painful. It's a constant reminder of the past trauma of bar exam failure. But it's important to get your mind right and get a head start.

How are you going to change the outcome this time? Here are some tips:

1) Figure out what went wrong the last time.

If you failed, by now you probably have some idea of what went wrong for you. Maybe you did really well on essays but underperformed on the MBE. Maybe the Performance Test brought you down. Regardless, it's important to recognize what caused your failure and think about how you can correct for that.

When looking at your scoring, keep in mind the overall balance of scoring in your state. For example, if you're in a UBE jurisdiction and you scored very poorly on the MPT, slightly below average on the MBE, and well on the essays, focusing solely on improving your MPT score might not help you too much.

That's because the MPT only makes up 20% of your score. Instead, your best bet is to really focus on improving your MBE score, which makes up 50% of your total score. 

Remember also that the MBE is the main area where studying has beneficial carryover effects in other portions of the exam. This is because MBE subjects are also tested on the essay exam. So by focusing on MBE subjects, you're also preparing for the MEE and, to a lesser extent, the MPT.

2) Don't overadjust.

Identifying areas for improvement is important, but don't go overboard in adjusting your study plan to address those areas.

For example, if you did very poorly on the MEE, don't only focus on essays on your second go-around. Instead, make sure you're taking a balanced approach to bar exam studying.

You don't want to focus only on MEEs this time, only to do poorly on the MBE your second time around. In short, shift a little, but you have to make sure you do well enough on all areas to pass.

3) Don't dwell on your failure.

Easier said than done, right? But ruminating on the trauma of bar exam failure isn't going to help you succeed this time. You can pass and you need to know it and feel it.

Instead of thinking about how and why you failed, focus on how and why this time you will pass. Make a plan for how you will succeed this time. Run your plan by someone to make sure it's a good plan, and then stick with it.

Just because you failed the bar exam doesn't mean you are destined to repeat that failure. Figure out what went wrong the first time, adjust, and put yourself on the path to bar exam success. You can do it and you will.


MBE and MEE Essay Flashcards that help you learn and memorize key bar exam concepts, effectively and affordably.

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