In California, folks who found out they failed the bar exam have until June 5 to sign up for the July exam. I am getting numerous students contacting me about whether they should take the July exam after a February failure or wait until the following February.
Generally, you should take the next bar exam offered.
There are many reasons for this.
- You still know a lot of law from the last time you took the bar exam. Although it may seem as if the knowledge may have fully left your mind after the last day of testing, you still know a lot of law. You did study for months on end, right? Quick, test yourself. What is the rule for present sense impression? See? You do still remember a lot.
- You remember what happened on the last exam and are likely to be able to resolve your test-taking issues. At this point, most people remember pretty clearly what their last testing experience was like. This is a critical part of identifying the weak areas of your test-taking strategy and getting some help. For example, did you have issues with time? Did you feel as if you didn’t know the law well enough? Did you not know how to approach a question after you did your first read of the essay?
- Emotionally, there is value in getting this over with. Since the bar exam is offered only twice a year, every failure can feel as though you are putting your life on hold—not a good feeling. This emotional stress can be very exhausting, especially if you aren’t working or volunteering between bar attempts. So, how do you feel emotionally about waiting another year to get bar results?
But there are situations where I recommend students wait to re-take the exam.
- If you cannot financially afford to study or pay for bar prep help (a review program or a tutor). I had a student drop out of my bar prep program early on last season when she realized that she didn’t feel financially stable enough to spend money on prep and meet her living expenses. The stress was very distracting and making it impossible for her to focus. So she decided to put off taking the test for a season, while she worked and saved money. She is back now and feels ready to take on bar prep, without worrying about finances getting in the way.
- If you are working and not able to dedicate adequate time to studying. Some folks got jobs while waiting for bar results. If you are now working full time, with only over seven weeks until the bar exam, it can be difficult to allocate enough study time to give yourself a good chance at passing. You may want to wait until February so you can develop a study strategy that allows you to work and adequately prepare. (For more tips on studying for the bar while working, see my guest post on Greenhorn Legal).
The bottom line is when you decide to sit for the bar again is a very personal choice. I simply recommend that you weigh the pros and cons of waiting and make the decision that will give you the best opportunity for exam success.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Yikes! I Failed the Bar Exam. Should I Take It Again?
- Coming Back After a Bar Exam Failure — Gearing Up to Study Again
- If At First You Don’t Succeed … Cry, Whine, and Then TRY AGAIN!
- You Failed the Bar Exam! 5 Tips to Get Ready to Study Again