How To Pass the Bar Exam the Second Time

how to pass the bar exam second time

While no one likes to fail at anything in life, failure is part of the human experience and allows us to learn to be better the next time. That’s why it’s critical to keep in mind that failing the bar exam is not the end of the world. Appearing for the bar exam is an exhaustive process, whether the first or second time. If you are determined not to let failing your first try stop you from realizing your dreams of practicing law, here are some tips to ensure you pass in your next attempt.

1. Thoroughly Review Your Bar Exam Results

The first step to any solution is identifying or acknowledging the problem. Regarding the bar exam, you have to first determine where you erred, and there’s no better way to do that than by reviewing your results. A detailed analysis of your performance in each component of the bar exam should help you identify any knowledge gaps while giving you lessons you can apply as you prepare for your second attempt at the exam. 

Once equipped with insight into what went wrong, you can strategically develop a better study plan. Naturally, you’ll have to change your approach since whatever you did the first time didn’t work. Be honest with yourself: Did you apply yourself diligently? Did you put in the required amount of study time? Did you go it alone or prepare with a bar review course? Candidly answering these questions will lead you in the right direction to better prepare for success on your next attempt at the bar exam.

2. Control Your Preparation (Active Learning)

One of the most common reasons people fail the bar exam is a lack of proper preparation. That’s not to suggest that they didn’t have a study plan or put in adequate hours studying, but rather, they prepared passively. So, consider taking an active-learning approach as you get ready to take the bar exam a second time. 

As opposed to passive learning, eg, simply watching video lectures or reading textbooks, an active-learning study approach puts you in the driver’s seat of your bar prep, allowing you to take control of your studies. It also keeps you engaged throughout while helping you master the concepts and improve your retention of the material on test day.

Examples of active learning include: 

  • Answering practice questions. Practice may not make perfect, but it certainly makes us better. The more you practice multiple-choice questions as found on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), the more comfortable you will be with the material, and the more you’ll master the concepts tested on the bar exam.
  • Taking self-assessments. Bar exam self-assessments allow you to test yourself in exam-like conditions, familiarizing you with the exam flow and structure while ensuring that you know you are ready for exam day. 
  • Studying with flashcards. Flashcards are among the most effective learning tools for active learning. Creating flashcards with spaced repetition—a scientifically-proven method to boost memory retention—is an excellent way to master legal concepts and improve your recall on test day.

3. Focus on the MBE® Section (50% weightage)

With most jurisdictions assigning a 50% or greater weighting to the MBE, it is undoubtedly the single most crucial component of the bar exam. As you prepare for the bar exam the second time, make sure you allocate a significant amount of your study hours to MBE prep. 

Better yet, prepare with an MBE supplement that offers actual MBE practice questions. Planning to ace the MBE is a sound strategy because a high MBE score almost guarantees you will pass the bar exam.

4. Practice With Real MBE Questions

When it comes to high-stakes exams like the bar, how you practice determines how you will perform. That’s why it’s always beneficial to study for the bar exam with real MBE questions that have appeared on previous exams. That includes practicing with updated questions licensed by the NCBE®.

The more familiar you are with the MBE in practice, the more confident you will be on test day when facing the real thing. Ultimately, when you practice like it’s the real thing, the real thing feels like practice. 

5. Study With Our Quick Tips

At UWorld, we recognize the importance of the MBE in successful bar exam preparation. That’s why we put together our MBE quick tips to give you helpful insight into the various MBE subjects and how to approach them in studying for the bar exam. 

As you prepare for the bar exam the second time, use these quick tips as a study guide to the MBE topics you will encounter on the bar exam.

6. Analyze Your Practice Test Reports

Practice tests are an excellent way to assess how well you understand the concepts you’ve been studying because they test you on the material you will see on the bar exam. When preparing for the bar exam the second time, once you’re confident you’ve mastered the material tested, take practice tests to determine how ready you are to sit for the bar exam. 

We encourage you to analyze your performance on the UWorld MBE QBank practice tests with our robust MBE QBank reports. You can view the comprehensive reports by subject and chapter levels and customize reports to show only the incorrectly answered questions or include the correct and omitted sections.

7. Prepare With a Complete Bar Review Course

No matter how brilliant you are, studying for a high-stakes exam will require help. Using a comprehensive bar prep course with proven learning methods that prepare you for every component of the bar exam is a sound strategy. The best bar review courses give you everything you need to pass the bar exam. 

When evaluating options to select the best course for your bar exam prep, look for the following:

  • comprehensive outlines, 
  • practice essay questions, 
  • performance analytics,
  • on-demand lectures and corresponding handouts, 
  • Self-paced learning to suit various learning styles, and
  • thousands of MBE-like questions, including all NCBE-licensed questions.

The Verdict 

Preparing for the bar exam a second time is no easy feat, but after surviving three intensive years of law school, it’s the only thing left in the way of your dream to practice law as a licensed attorney. So, don’t give up. As the saying goes, “If at first, you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” Only this time, apply our tips to pass the bar exam the second time. We wish you the best of luck in your bar exam preparation!

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