The Top 3 Reasons You Failed The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)

The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is currently being administered in almost half of the country with new states adopting it every year. When you first entered law school, there is a fair chance that the UBE was not even offered in your state. Now, whether you plan on taking the bar exam in New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Missouri, or 22 other states, you are actually taking the UBE.

We have witnessed in the past few years bar pass rates plummet as more states adopt the UBE. And as was recently announced, test takers for the February 2017 exam had the lowest MBE scores in 33 years. While this news is very disconcerting, when you are included in these disappointing statistics, it does not make you feel any better. You will do a self-diagnosis and may think your problems were:

I didn’t study hard enough.

I did not know enough law.

There is something wrong with me, because other people I know studied much less, but still passed.   

None of these are likely the main reason why you failed.

So why did you fail the bar exam?

First: You focused too much on only one part of the exam.

There is equal weight given on the UBE to the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) and to the written portion of the test — the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Some students do better on multiple choice questions and others perform better on the written section. Obviously doing better on one section can help carry your scores on the other parts, but if you “bomb” a particular section, it becomes that much harder to pass the overall test. So you can’t really get away with saying “I‘m a bad essay writer” or “I’m terrible at multiple choice tests.”

Even if these sentiments are true, you will not pass the exam if you ignore these problems and hope to do well enough on the other sections to make up for it. You need to address your weaknesses by learning and practicing specific methods that will improve your scores on the sections that are most problematic for you. Every point counts. Keep in mind that if you had difficulty with the MBE, you are certainly not alone, as evidenced by the most recent results.

Second: You figured if you just did what your bar review course told you to do, it would be enough for you to pass.  

Having created the first modern day bar review course back in 1946, trust us when we say, review courses do not increase your chances of passing the bar exam. Your first time course simply reviewed the law for you. They went over each of the major subjects for 1-2 days and told you to practice lots of MBE and essay questions, but largely left it up to you to put it all together. This might work for some students (certainly students at the very top of the class had figured something out along the way), but everyone learns differently. If you have ever used someone else’s outline to study for a final, you know that whatever process worked for some of your classmates may not work for you. You likely needed a plan for the bar exam, guidance that was sorely lacking in your first-time course, or even the help of a professional bar exam tutor to show you how to improve your scores.

A first-time bar course teaches a lot of law but it does not show you what to do with all that law. You have to decide on what to memorize and how to apply it to the questions on the bar exam. You do this alone — using the same skills and methods you practiced in law school. And thus, bar results generally mimic law school standing; you pass in GPA order at the time of graduation and a review course does not help you do any better on the bar exam than you did in law school.

When retaking the exam, do not go it alone this time like you did the first time you took the exam.

Third: You confused familiarity with knowledge.

Students often go over their notes and become familiar with them, but fail to truly understand the rules at issue or how to apply them to fact patterns. This time, do not just read over your notes again without considering whether you truly understand how to apply the rules. The bar exam does not test law, it tests rules. Understanding generally what hearsay is, is not the same as knowing the exact exceptions to it. It is these exceptions and how to apply them to fact patterns that the bar exam is testing you on.

The reason why you failed the bar exam is simple — you did not get enough points. You studied the law. This time, focus on how to apply that law to earn more points. Improve your methods and your strategy and your score will improve.

We specialize in helping students retaking the bar exam to pass. We have created and teach the only bar course designed exclusively for those retaking the Uniform Bar Exam. To receive an entirely free, customized evaluation of your scores and suggestions on how to improve your performance, submit your previous score report(s) to us and we will personally contact you to discuss.

Wishing you good luck on the upcoming UBE!

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