Without further ado . . .
First, I would like to thank Lee for the opportunity to share my experience with the Bar Exam Toolbox audience…
Pleasantries out of the way, let’s dive in. I am a recent bar examinee having passed the Iowa Bar in April 2013. However, it was not my first attempt. I had taken the July 2012 administration and was unsuccessful. The experience of having failed a bar exam is almost indescribable.
You have so many emotions: disappointment, embarrassment, loss, anger, and failure. I found out that I did not pass while I was at work, and found a private spot to just let out all my tears and shouts. The running question in my head was: “How am I supposed to make a living now?”
Well, the answer was fairly straightforward.
Get up and try again.
In that regard, here are some things you should know going into the next bar exam:
1) Get your MBE, UBE, MEE, MPT or state essay scores as soon as possible.
Getting your scores will help with your study strategy for the next administration. You want to know in what areas you excelled and those where you needed more practice. I know it can be hard to see these scores, especially if you missed by only a few points; but it is a very necessary part of the process. You typically can request the score breakdown for the bar examiners office. Some states even allow you to review your written essays against the model answers/score sheets the law examiners used.
2) Assess your previous study schedule/habits, life events, and pivot.
Did you do self-study? Enrolled in a commercial course? Take a good and honest look at what your previous study habits were, and decide what facets could be improved upon. When I took a look at my habits, I realized that I had put a lot of hours in at the library; but not on the right areas! Perhaps commit to doing at least 25-50 MBE questions each day, if previously you were only doing a couple of questions each week. Also, if you had issues with family or friends that may have distracted you in your studies, be sure to let them know the importance of your next attempt and ask for their patience and understanding in advance.
3) Remember that failure is not the end all be all.
The emotional toll of failing the bar exam is a lot. You should do a lot of reflection and meditating before even getting back on the horse. Do remember that although you did not get it the first time, that does not mean you will never pass. Keep affirming to yourself that you have battled through 4 years of undergrad and 3 years of law school; and that another 2 months of focus and dedication is just what is necessary to reach your goals.
Check out my newest Youtube video with some additional strategies for success. Good luck and happy studies.
Ciara Vesey, Esq., M.P.A. is a newly-admitted lawyer in Iowa and graduate from Drake University Law School. Ciara is currently a solo practitioner and also advises law students through her website, Confessions of a Law School Nobody Online. Ciara may also be found on Twitter.
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Check out these helpful posts:
- Tips on what to do after you find out you failed the bar exam.
- Coming Back After a Bar Exam Failure — Gearing Up to Study Again.
- Many students wonder if a bar failure means that they won’t become a great lawyer. It doesn’t!
- Tips on whether or not you should take the next bar offered or take a break.
- Although it may sound like a great idea at first, things you should consider before deciding to take a different jurisdiction’s bar exam.