Bar Exam Tips, Strategy & More!

5 Major Reasons People Fail the Bar Exam

Why people fail the bar exam how to pass the bar exam

Whether this is your first time taking the bar or you are a repeater, the following list covers 5 major reasons people fail the bar exam.

1. You didn’t take it seriously enough

“I got through law school fine. How hard can the Bar Exam be??”

Don’t fall into this trap! While law school is challenging, it does not adequately prepare you for the bar exam. In law school, you spend a full semester or even an entire year on each subject. And at the end of each semester, you are only tested on a few areas of law. The bar exam is an entirely different beast. It requires you to learn 14 or more areas of law at once, and then tests you under conditions far more strenuous and time pressured than in law school. Do not take the bar exam lightly.

2. You were too stressed

Some degree of anxiety and stress is normal for anyone taking the bar exam. But, too much stress can impair your ability to learn and retain information. It can make you lose sleep, lose confidence, and in some cases…lose your mind! If you feel overwhelmed, take a break and relax. Exercise, eat well, and get quality sleep. Set a study schedule, and set aside some time to unwind each day.

Stress not only affects the quality of your studying, but it can seriously impact your performance during the exam. If you go into the exam with high levels of anxiety, you may freak out over difficult questions and lose your ability to think with a clear and focused mind.

3. You did not know the essential law

If you don’t have the essential black letter law engrained into your head by exam time, it’s going to be an uphill battle. This is especially true for the Multistate Bar Exam. On the MBE, many of the questions are designed to trick or mislead you with complicated fact patterns and multiple answer choices that seem right. Now take into account the limited amount of time to answer each question. If you don’t know all the elements of battery or adverse possession, it’s likely that you will be making “educated” guesses on more than a few questions.

It is obviously impossible to memorize everything included your bar review materials. But, if you focus on and memorize the essential law for each subject, you will greatly increase your chances of passing the bar exam.

4. Poor time management

You’re an encyclopedia of legal knowledge. You can write an award winning legal memo with your eyes closed. You are READY for the bar exam.

Unfortunately, none of that matters if you don’t manage your time properly on the exam. Spend too long on a few baffling MBE questions, and you’ll be scrambling to get through easier ones towards the end. Get overly verbose on the first essay question, and you may not have time to finish the last.

Be sure to bring a clock or watch and be vigilant with your time management. If you are stumped with an MBE question, make your best guess, circle it in your booklet, and move on. If time remains at the end, you can go back and review any questions circled.

For the essays, read through all of the questions to see which you feel most confident about. Save the one you feel least confident about for last, but try your best to apportion your time evenly between each question.

5. You did not practice enough

Knowledge and proper application of the law is essential to passing the bar exam. However, equally important is the specialized skill of taking the bar exam. This means being able to answer MBE questions under strict conditions and time constraints. You need to know how to quickly issue spot on the essays, and how to attack the various possible performance tests. Therefore it is imperative to take as many practice exams as possible under the same conditions as the bar exam itself. The more you practice, the greater your chance of success on exam day.

Good luck!

Team Lean Sheets