Updated: Mar 19
Forty two percent (42%) of bar exam takers nationwide did not pass the bar exam in 2019, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
How can it be that even after successfully graduating from law school and completing our bar prep courses, we have such a high percentage of bar exam takers who do not pass? Yes, some people do not take the bar exam seriously.
However, the system is flawed. The system does not give the written portion of the bar exam enough importance. Let’s be honest, many bar exam takers leave bar exam essays and the performance test to the last minute. I see a spike in my website visitors three days before every bar exam. In other words, many are only dedicating three days to what accounts for 50% of their score. The system places most of the focus on the multiple-choice.
I understand. The same thing happened to me the first time I took the bar exam. I did not invest the time and effort it takes to improve my answers on the written portion of the bar exam and did not pass. Like many, I only outlined answers and read model answers in the days before the exam. I thought the best use of my time was to get through the insurmountable amount of material so I could pass!
Looking back, this was not the best use of my time. I spent too much time attending bar prep lectures, reading and re-reading my outlines, and making flashcards. Now I recognize all these things are necessary but not if they are at the expense of your score on the written portion of the bar exam. It seems so obvious now because they account for 50% of your score.
Perhaps, we don’t spend more time on the written portion of the bar exam beforehand because we think we already know how to IRAC or because we did well on law school finals. This is flawed reasoning since law school finals do not demand the same level of skill that is required on the bar exam. Law school finals are not testing whether we are ready to go out into the world as a practicing attorney. The bar exam is.
The #1 reason I went from failing the bar exam the first time to a licensed attorney in three states is I realized I had more CONTROL over my score in the written portion of the bar exam. This realization led me to give it the attention it deserved. The bottom line is I passed three bar exams thanks to the points I earned on the written portion since my score on the multiple-choice had plateaued.
On the multiple-choice, there are just too many variables out of our control. Therefore, it is more difficult to boost our score on the multiple-choice than it is on the written portion of the bar exam.
Many attorneys I know who passed the bar exam the first time tell me they wouldn't have passed had it not been for the written portion. For some reason, struggling bar exam takers continue to make the costly mistake of ignoring the written portion.
If you want to go from struggling bar exam taker to licensed attorney, leverage the written portion of the bar exam to boost your score and get you over the line. On the essays and performance test, you have the POWER to show bar exam graders you are ready to go out into the world as a practicing attorney. You have the POWER to craft a high-scoring answer. You have the POWER to impress bar exam graders with your writing and lawyering skills. You have the power to use bar exam essays and the performance test to your advantage; to give your score a super-powered boost and pass.
In the end, the written portion of the bar exam is just as important as the multiple-choice. Why not focus your time and effort on the area of the bar exam where you have more control over your score AND the outcome? Why not work on the only area of the bar exam where you can truly show bar graders you are ready to be a licensed attorney who can help hundreds of clients solve their legal problems?