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What You Need to Do If You Fail the Bar Exam

Bar ExamThe bar exam. It’s the last roadblock between you and your goal of becoming a practicing attorney.

You study. You spend a lot of money and time on BARBRI. You pay the registration fee, show up and take the test. And then you fail.

What now?

As shocking as it might seem, you’re not alone. In New York alone, nearly one out of every five first-time test-takers fail. You might not take solace in this statistic, unless you consider that the vast majority of these would-be lawyers pass the bar the next time around and go on to successful careers in the profession.

Here’s how they do it:

Acknowledge it
While failing the bar is nothing in which to take great pride, it’s also nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of people don’t do well their first time, including some of the people with whom you’re currently working or hope to someday call your colleagues.

The first thing you should do is tell your employer (or future employer) that you didn’t pass. Chances are good that they’ll keep you on as a paralegal until the next test–if you tell them yourself. There’s a rule in public relations that says, “Break your own bad news.” PR types know that doing so minimizes the damage and allows you to put things in perspective.

So tell your boss. And then tell them that you have a plan in place to pass the bar the next time around.

Have a plan
Even if you worked as hard as you could to prepare for the bar, you did something wrong. Do a quick analysis of what you did–and then find a way to change it.

Didn’t use flash cards? Use them this time. Didn’t look for patterns in the sample bar exam questions? Study the questions for patterns as well as “correct” answers. Relied too heavily on BARBRI? Seek another course. Tried to go it alone? This time, find someone who can help you on a one-on-one basis.

Switching up your study strategy can make a big, positive difference.

Hire a tutor
Law school tutors can be an invaluable resource when it comes to preparing for the bar–especially the second time around.

They’ve all passed it. They know how to prepare. And they can assess your study strategy as well as your knowledge of the content.

And they can give you confidence.


About the Author

Sumita Dalal is the Founder and CEO of FindMyLawTutor, the largest and most trusted website and online portal that connects law students with law tutors for success in law school. Whether preparing for the LSAT, are currently a law student or are studying for the bar exam, FindMyLawTutor makes finding a law tutor fast and easy.

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