A common question that aspiring lawyers ask is, how hard is the bar exam? Essentially, many law school learners hear their predecessors say this exam is notoriously difficult. Also, they have to spend many hours studying for this exam. Thus, a learner can quickly wonder whether this examination is that difficult.
This article explains what the bar exam is, how to apply for it, its purpose, states’ difficulty levels, and how to prepare for it.
What Is The Bar Exam?
A bar exam is an examination that the bar association of a specific jurisdiction administers, requiring every lawyer to pass for purposes of admission to the bar.
Maybe you’re wondering, what does bar stand for law?
The term bar stands for the association of licensed attorneys. It’s the same way people associate the term “bench” with the judiciary because it describes what the judges sat on in courtrooms.
Many students know this test for its extreme difficulty level or degree. Currently, the pass rate for first-time test takers stands at around 79.64%. That means one in five students don’t pass this exam in the first round. In some states, the bar exam is challenging. That’s because they have a pass rate of around 44%. Some of the states with the most difficult bar exams include:
These states have varying pass rates. And different pass rates show that the bar exam difficulty by state varies significantly. The bar exam’s primary purpose is to measure the student’s competence before a university allows them to practice law in a specific jurisdiction.
Why Is The Bar Exam So Hard?
At this point, you’re not asking how difficult is the bar exam because you already know the answer to this question. Essentially, there’s no reason to sugarcoat this exam because it’s hard. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you must fail this exam. After all, 58% of the students that took this examination passed it. However, 42% of them went through law school but didn’t pass it.
Perhaps, the fact that law is complicated is the reason why the bar exam is equally tricky. Practicing law is not easy. And passing the bar exam marks the beginning of a career as a legal expert. Essentially, you must know the laws of your country before venturing into your career.
Nevertheless, you can pass this exam by studying the law and taking adequate time to prepare for it. Overall, you’ll find passing the bar exam difficult due to the following reasons.
- Time pressure: As hinted, law schools time the bar exam. And this can stress and pressure you when facing this exam. Perhaps, the most challenging thing is that you have to learn everything for the exam within around ten weeks. This time crunch is partly what makes passing this exam difficult. Essentially, you have a lot of material to learn quickly before taking the bar exam.
- Massive materials: Preparing for the bar exam requires you to read and research extensively. Lawyers are experts in the law. And the enormous body of the laws that you have to master is why many learners wonder how hard it is to be a lawyer. Many learners find synthesizing all rules into a coherent body to ensure their readiness for any test challenging. Essentially, learners need an effective way to study and prioritize essential information and remember what they learn quickly.
- Difficult questions: Perhaps, the question you’re asking now is about what’s on the bar exam. Some people assume that the bar exam is among the minimum competencies. Although this could be technically true, the questions aren’t easy. Some of the questions in this exam trick the student with many arguably correct choices. The bar exam has nuanced parts and exceptions to the law. Thus, you must study all questions and possible answers within a short time to pass this exam.
- Mental anxiety: Becoming a successful legal practitioner requires you to learn to be calm even when faced with fear. And this starts when preparing for the bar exam. Getting anxious about this high-stakes exam is normal. This assignment is anxiety-provoking. And sitting for this exam is even challenging because you will feel like you missed some critical content. However, this doesn’t mean you will fail. In some jurisdictions, students miss 40% of the bar exam questions, and they still pass. Therefore, don’t let the feeling of failing this exam distract you. Instead, work through your anxiety, and you will pass the bar exam.
- Unknown factors: The unknowns are some of the things that contribute to the bar exam difficulty. Essentially, not knowing most of the things about the bar exam can make it difficult. Some states provide essay topics before the test. However, many states don’t offer this clue to the learners. For instance, California doesn’t give ideas on the essay topic for students. Thus, students must study extensively and prepare for everything. However, such learners can focus on the most tested subjects.
The bar exam is a mind-bending, surreal affair. In most states, this exam takes two to three days of taking tests in a row. When you factor in the time you need to get to the exam room, prepare, take breaks, and go back home, most aspiring lawyers put in up to 10- hours of nervous, high-stakes, difficult work. Thus, taking this exam is mentally exhausting. And this can scare many learners after searching for a phrase like, “is law school hard” online upon getting responses from some lawyers.
Many college students think the bar exam is difficult for varied reasons.
Learners undergo intense testing for two days. The first day involves answering multiple-choice questions. The second day entails answering essay questions. What’s more, this exam covers a wide array of legal topics.
Multiple-choice questions can have more than a single correct answer. Thus, the learner must dig deeper to determine the most accurate solution. Additionally, the law school times each section, making time management skills very critical. Knowledge of the correct answer is not sufficient because the learner must have the necessary analytical skills. What’s more, they must apply their knowledge and exhibit exceptional essay writing skills.
Can I Take The Bar Exam Without Going To Law School?
Yes. Some states allow people to take the bar exam without attending law school. In the past, people that wanted to pursue a legal career had to work as apprentices under successful lawyers in the United States.
Currently, only California, Vermont, Washington, and Virginia allow people aspiring to become lawyers to take the bar exam without going to a law school. Such people can apprentice with a judge or a practicing attorney. In states like Wyoming, Maine, and New York, such people can join an apprenticeship program. However, the applicants must attend a law school.
Here’s how you can take the bar exam without attending a law school:
- Choose the place or location where you want to take the bar exam without attending a law school.
- Get a legal apprenticeship to acquire hands-on experience.
- Pass the first-year examination or the Baby Bar exam as a law student.
- Prepare for your bar exam after completing the legal internship.
How Will I Pass The Bar Exam?
Even if your state has the hardest bar exams, you can pass this test by implementing the following strategies.
- Use a study schedule: Decide on the number of hours you will spend studying and preparing for this exam. Include them on the calendar, and don’t miss even one study session.
- Use study resources: You can find a study guide, review course, or book that will enable you to gain the most from every session. Using such resources will allow you to prepare for the bar exam adequately.
- Understand the scoring: Learn how the bar exam scoring works and the best scores for different tests. Also, practice the tests to see how you improve your scores before sitting the bar exam.
- Rest: You have a short time and want to study as much as possible. However, this can lead to burnout if you’re not careful. Therefore, plan the available time properly and rest to grasp as much as possible without suffering burnout.
Even the easiest bar exam can seem like the most difficult if you don’t take the time to prepare for it. Therefore, implement these strategies to prepare for this exam, and you will excel to become a successful, educated lawyer.
How Many Times Can You Take The Bar Exam?
Most states allow students to take the bar exam unlimited times. However, some states limit the number of attempts to between two and six.
But even some of these have discretionary limits to allow for additional shots beyond the limit. However, learners require special permissions in such situations. Nevertheless, some states have absolute limits barring applicants from taking this exam within their jurisdictions. While some states are more lenient, others require extraordinary situations to allow a learner to take another bar exam.
Therefore, understanding the number of attempts you have on the bar exam is crucial. That’s because this information can help you decide on your studying strategy, especially if you have only one remaining attempt. Nevertheless, always aim to take the bar exam and pass with flying colors the first time.
How Long Is The Bar Exam?
Typically, the bar exam is a 12-hour test. The administrator breaks this duration into two days, each having six hours of completing tests.
Nevertheless, states can have varying requirements for this exam. For instance, your trial could have more components that include additional testing days.
Essentially, the bar exam involves rigorous testing to measure your knowledge of different subjects in law, application, and the ability to communicate your opinion and expertise in writing. The many topics that this exam can test can make it take longer than some learners expect.
Is It Hard To Pass The Bar?
The bar exam comprises hundreds of multiple-choice questions on sales and contracts, criminal law, real property issues, civil procedures, and constitutional law. This exam has written components that may vary from one state to another. Depending on your state, you will take this exam over two or three days. What’s more, the bar administers this exam two times a year. Additionally, you will have two three-hour performance tasks, six one-hour essays, and multiple-choice questions to answer.
All these tasks make passing this exam difficult for some learners. What’s more, most students have limited time to prepare for the bar exam. Nevertheless, how hard passing the bar exam becomes for you depends on how well you prepare for it. Therefore, use the advice and tips in this guide if you wish to pass the bar exam.
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