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Tips and Resources for Repeating the Bar Exam

Learning that you have failed the bar exam is disappointing and frustrating.   The last thing that you want to do is take the bar exam again.  You do not even want to think about.  However, once reality sets in you know that if you are to have a career practicing law you must take the bar again.  This time you must pass it.  Here are a few tips and resources to incorporate into your strategy for retaking the bar.

  1. Put the Past Behind You
    While you need to evaluate how your prepared for and performed on the Bar Exam the first time in order to understand what to do differently as you prepare to take it again, do not dwell on the fact that you failed. Learning from failing is different from being defeated by failing.


  1. Reconsider Your Study Habits
    Before you dive into studying again take a close look at what you did to prepare for the bar exam the first time. Be honest with yourself.  Did you truly put in the necessary time and effort?  If the answer to that question is no then reconsider your study habits so that you work more effectively the second time around.  If you did not take a bar prep course the first time, you may need the structure of a formal course to help you stay on task.


  1. Take a Different Course
    If you did take a prep course the first time, consider taking a different prep course. Each bar review course has different methodologies, philosophies and instructors.  You may find a better fit with a different course.  Also look at mini-courses and supplemental materials such as flash cards offered by Critical Pass and outlines offered by Lean Sheets.


  1. One-on-One Tutoring
    Getting over the bar exam hump may require you to spend time working one-on-one with a coach who has experience working with students who failed the bar exam. Some students simply learn better this way.  Also, a teacher who gives you individual attention will work closely with you to improve your problem areas.  Paulina Bandy, a California bar prep coach for repeaters, will work with you one-on-one to analyze your answers on the exam you failed and develop strategies to help you overcome your problem areas so that you will perform better when retaking the Bar Exam.


  1. Practice, Practice, Practice
    The reason that you did not pass the first time may not be that you did not put enough time into preparing. It may be that you should have used a different strategy.  While all good bar prep coaches will require you to complete practice questions, some bar review courses focus more on practicing than others.  Find a bar review course that emphasizes  active learning over passive learning.  The more you practice actually writing answers, the more prepared you will be.


  1. Repeaters’ Coach

There are many excellent bar review courses in the market.  However, if you must repeat the bar exam, consider a bar review course or a bar tutor who specializes in coaching repeaters.  Repeaters’ coach, Petrina Branch, explains that preparing for repeating the bar exam requires a different type of focus.  A repeaters’ coach will help you quickly zero in on what went wrong the first time and help you master problem areas.


  1. The Mental Aspect

Studying for the bar exam and taking the bar are exercises in both physical and mental stamina.  While you may doing good things like eating right, getting enough sleep, and proper exercise, there are additional strategies to consider for making sure your mind is in the proper place to allow you to perform well on the Bar Exam.   Check out Matt Racine’s Bar Exam Mind: A Strategy Guide for an Anxiety-Free Bar Exam for tips and strategies for mental preparedness.


While failing the bar exam is frustrating, it certainly is not an indicator that you will not have a successful career.  Remember that many highly successful attorneys have had to take the bar exam two or three times.   A few famous bar exam repeaters include Hillary Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Jerry Brown, and Michelle Obama.

For more tips on repeating the bar exam, see Second Time Around our blog article at FindMyLawTutor.com.

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