I Failed the Bar Exam Twice (or Three Times or Four Times) If you failed the bar exam twice, three times, four times, or more, believe me, you are not alone! Many students fail the bar exam once then think “I just need more time to study” and then fail it again. Or they work full time or take on other obligations while studying for the bar exam again. Or they are completely burnt out and the time they spend on “studying” isn’t actually studying. Then they find out they failed it twice. And soon it is three times. Or four times. Or more.
We have helped hundreds of students who have failed the bar exam overcome it and be better people and attorneys for it! So, if you failed the bar exam, and are wondering what to do next, here is a detailed, step-by-step guide.
And these students are not dumb! There are many reasons why smart students fail the bar exam! And one of these reasons is that they don’t have a good plan of attack!
If you have failed the bar exam more than once, you may feel completely alone. This is because students who fail the bar exam more than once are very unlikely to talk about it! Of course, most people do not advertise to the world that they failed the bar exam. But you may find yourself hesitant to even tell your family members or close friends if you fail the bar exam.
(There are many reasons for this, but students are afraid of being judged or disappointing others.) This can lead to a very lonely and isolating time. (If you feel lonely or isolated please read this post on feeling lonely or depressed during bar prep.)
This can lead to a vicious cycle of not talking about failing, not going to anyone for advice, and not studying properly. In this post, we give you some advice for how to break free from this vicious cycle. It will require that you ask some hard questions and that you change your bar exam approach. After all, if you do the same thing again and again, it is no wonder that you do not achieve a different result.
What to Do If you Failed the Bar Exam Twice,
Three Times, Four Times, or More:
If you failed the bar exam more than once, we first highly recommend that you read this note to those who fail the bar exam. This note will encourage you to do two things:
First, allow yourself to be sad, depressed, angry, annoyed, jealous, or whatever emotions you may feel.
It is important not to rush this process. Wait it out and take a few days to allow yourself to feel these emotions so that you can move on from them. This is very important and is explained more in the note!
Second, come up with a plan to pass the bar exam the next time.
Figure out when the “next time” is. (If you are wondering if you should take a break in between bar exams, please read this post!) We find that repeat bar exam takers sometimes feel burnt out and truly do need a break between bar exams. So if you failed the bar exam twice, three times, or more, you may find yourself in this boat. However, you may also want to take the next bar exam while you are motivated to get it done.
Set aside an hour to ask some hard questions. We highly recommend that when you are coming up with your plan of attack for the next bar exam, that you take some time — even an hour — to truly determine why you failed the bar exam. It is much easier to succeed on the bar exam if you have spent some time figuring out why you failed.
Many students who fail the bar exam rush into a new plan or new course (or repeating their old course) without ever stepping back and asking if that is the right action for them to take! A crucial step is taking time to figure out why you failed in the first place. This requires stepping back, slowing down, and asking some hard questions.
We recommend you look at these questions one by one. If you are too afraid to ask these questions, you will never find the answers.
Questions to Ask if you Failed the Bar Exam:
Please carefully examine these questions. These are particularly important to ask if you failed the bar exam twice, three times, or more:
- Did I dedicate enough time to studying? (If not, how can I make more time to study this time? Can I start earlier? Or can I quit my job? Is it possible for my parents to support me?)
- When I studied, was I being efficient and productive? Was I able to concentrate? If so, was I tackling the subjects that are truly difficult for me or did I put those off? What did I focus on when I studied? (If I was not efficient and productive, why not? Was my study environment distracting? Was I too anxious? Or too tired? . . . )
- Did I take enough practice exams? If not, why not? Do I need to incorporate them earlier? Or do them under more “test like” conditions? Do I need to time myself more carefully?
- Did my scores improve over time? (If not, why not? Was I doing the same thing each time I studied and expecting a different result? What can I do differently to improve this time? If so, why did I improve? What area did I improve in? How can I continue to improve?)
- Did I see consistently lower scores on the essay portion, MBE portion (or, if applicable in your state), MPT portion? Is there one part that I always perform better on? How can I make sure to focus on this part next time?
- Do I see consistently lower scores in certain essay topics? Which ones? (You cannot be afraid to get your score reports out, figure out what each essay subject was, and analyze them! This data is invaluable! It does not mean everything, but it does mean something, and it can tip you off to where you struggle the most!)
- Which MBE subjects do I feel weaker in and which subjects do I feel stronger in (out of Real Property, Contracts, Evidence, Torts, Crim Law/Crim Pro, Contracts/Sales, Civil Procedure)? What about state topics? (Wills, Trusts, Family Law, Corporations & LLCs, Agency, Partnership, Secured Transactions, Conflict of Laws, etc . . .) What can I do differently to improve my weaker subjects? Should I try private tutoring? A different outline? A different course? Something else?
- Am I burnt out? Should I take a bar exam “off”? What can I do to feel less burnt out? (If you are wondering if you should take a break in between bar exams, please read this post!)
- Do I struggle with anxiety (either at the test or before the test)? How can I minimize this or better deal with it? Should I consider therapy, medications, meditation, or other methods to minimize anxiety?
- Do I struggle with timing? Did I run out of time on the essay portion or MBE portion? How can I make sure this doesn’t happen again?
- Should I get a private tutor? Or a different course? What can I do to change my approach? How will I pay for these services and/or materials? Can I get a bar loan? Will my parents or a family member lend me money? Can I work and save up for a new approach?
Consider A New Approach or Tutoring:
If you are taking the Uniform Bar Exam, check out our highly-regarded Uniform Bar Exam full service course here.Our course teaches an efficient approach to the bar exam and is completely different from a standard commercial course. We have a very high passage rate for repeat takers who sign up for our full-service courses. This course fills up quickly but gives you a LOT for your money! Also check out our Michigan Bar Exam full service course here.
If you are in a Uniform Bar Exam state or any state that administers the Multistate Essay Exam, we also have a lot of options to help you with the MEE, including MEE one-sheets, an MEE seminar, an MEE course, among others!
If you are considering private tutoring and want to hear our approach, note that we help repeat takers pass every administration. If you are looking for private tutoring, please feel free to contact us at your convenience. We offer bar exam tutoring, bar exam essay feedback, and multiple-choice (MBE) assistance to students nationwide. We offer private tutoring for several state bar exams as well as the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE).
Repeat takers generally find our courses and services helpful because:
- First, we give you different (much better!) outlines than your commercial course outlines which not only makes you more efficient when you study but also gives you a fresh perspective on the material. (Read this post if you want to see an example of our MEE outlines);
- Second, we give you a different approach (to avoid burnout, and to make sure you are as efficient as possible when you study);
- Third, we work with you one on one to improve your weaknesses and capitalize upon your strengths. Our goal is always that you never have to ever even think about the bar exam again!
- Fourth, we keep you accountable. We keep track of each and every student to make sure that you are doing everything you need to do to pass!
Also, note that we have high passage rates — above 80% passage rates for our first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth+ takers!
If you are looking for a new approach, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.
Looking for (free) help?
We have several other posts on recovering from failure and on how to conquer the next bar exam you take. If you want to read more, please click on the links (on the bottom of the page if you are on your phone and on the side of the page if you are on a laptop) to see our other bar exam posts on specific bar exams or specific topics!
Please click here to contact us if you are looking to sign up for any of our services.
Ashley Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011. She, as well as a team of tutors offer private one-on-one tutoring for bar exam students nationwide (including tutoring for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and Multistate Essay Exam (MEE). She also offers small-group courses and seminars for the Michigan bar exam. Please click here to contact her company, with any questions or to set up a tutoring session.