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If You Failed the Bar Exam, Don’t Panic: Here’s How to Bounce Back
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Even if you failed the bar exam, there are ways to bounce back and increase your chances of passing the next time.

Summary: Harrison Barnes explains how to bounce back after failing a bar exam to ensure you pass it the second time.

In one of his most popular articles, Harrison Barnes describes how law students can get past failing the bar exam on the first attempt. Failing the bar exam is a stressful, challenging experience, but with the right effort and dedication, law students can pass the exam on their second attempt.


1. Move Forward with Studying

Many students feel ashamed and are worried that, because they failed the bar exam, they are going to be perceived as incompetent and incapable of practicing law. However, many attorneys who went on to hold powerful, well-respected positions in law and government failed the bar exam on their first try. Remember this as you hit the books again.

2. Sign up for the Next Test Date

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The bar exam is offered in February and July. You have the chance to start over and take it again. Go ahead and sign up for the next test date and begin your studies with a clean slate.

3. Study Harder for the Next Examination

The bar exam is centered on memorization of laws, analysis, reasoning, and logic. You have to know the ins and outs of the laws to ensure that you will do well on the exam. Practice, practice, practice!

4. Attend All of Your Bar Review Classes

By the time you’re in your bar review classes, you are so close to being done with the bar exam—just a couple of months or so. Keep your head up and do not skip class—these courses are expensive, and you do not want to waste your time and money.

5. Hire a Tutor or Sign Up for Smaller Classes

A tutor can help you focus on your weaknesses, whether it’s timing, organizing your thoughts, or understanding an area of law better. Do not hesitate to invest the time and money into additional preparation if it means having “Esquire” at the end of your name.

6. Change your Mindset

Once you give up, your efforts will be useless. You have to continue to tell yourself that you can do this—after all, thousands of students pass bar exams every year. There’s no reason that you can’t pass it, too.

7. Picture Yourself Passing the Exam

Once you pass the bar exam, you will be an attorney for life. Your family will be thrilled, and you’ll feel a wonderful combination of relief and pride. Keep focusing on this goal throughout your studies.

8. Change Your Studying

What caused you to fail the exam the first time? Did you think too much about the multiple-choice questions? Did you run out of time because you decided to handwrite the exam instead of typing it? Did the Uniform Commercial Code just completely overwhelm you? Learn from your mistakes and use them to alter your studying this time around.

9. If Necessary, Request a Special Test Taking Environment

If you broke your leg, you likely would not think twice about using an elevator instead of the stairs. You should think this way about special test accommodations as well if you have severe anxiety, attention deficit disorder, or any other such condition.

10. Don’t Overanalyze the Test

The bar exam requires you to apply the laws to the facts of the case. Nothing more. Do not get tangled up in abstract theories and other complicated issues.

Be sure to check out the article, 10 Ways to Bounce Back After Failing the Bar and Pass on Your Next Attempt, for more advice and a list of intelligent, renowned individuals who previously failed the bar exam.

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