Your bar exam success strongly depends on how you approach and prepare.
Tens of thousands of law grads (JDs and LLMs) all over the world are now considering to prepare for the US bar exams coming in September 2020 (instead of July 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions).
If you are one of those aspiring bar exam candidates, this post will inspire you to succeed even if you struggle with numerous difficulties.
The question that concerns a vast majority of bar test applicants is how to pass it. In other words, how not to fail?
With this in mind, I’ll tell you my story about how I prepared for and passed the New York bar exam. It will definitely cheer you up!
This post, in particular, describes my bar exam difficulties, results, and prep tool.
Here’s what you’ll now discover:
Bar Exam Story
As a SLU LAW LLM of 2007, I decided to take the New York bar exam as late as in 2012. I then actually took the test in 2014.
I should, of course, have taken that bar exam much earlier. That would add me way more chances to pass. Also, I would avoid many obstacles down the road.
My bar exam preparation came along with the following difficulties:
- Cambridge LLM degree, rather than the NY bar admission, preoccupied my early career perspective (check out that battle of titans);
- Over 7 years passed between my LLM graduation and exam;
- The New York bar exam preparation concurred with full-time work;
- The study gradually stretched from minimal to intensive for up to 5 months;
- This exam was in 10-day proximity to the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE);
- The exam covered 16 subjects;
- Over 80% of the New York bar exam study materials (e.g., criminal law and procedure, evidence etc) were completely new for me;
- The study approach was extraordinary;
- I took the risk of trying a new bar prep course described below;
- I had no single live bar prep lecture in the US – all prep took place in Ukraine;
- English was still my foreign language;
- I arrived to the US a week before the exam day with a jet lag of 7 hours; and
- The exam auditorium was terribly freezing and distracting.
These were essentially the problems I had to solve.
Shortly speaking, everything appeared to be unfavorable. Ironically, my odds were minimal, whereas the bar exam stake maximum.
This is not to mention the test difficulty.
How hard is the New York bar exam?
It’s probably the highest bar you can ever imagine.
In wild comparison, it’s the worst beast in a forest. Your task is not merely to escape but rather to tame that monster. Along the way, you must perform an entertaining show and earn applauds.
Without any doubt, the NY bar exam was the hardest examination I have ever taken. Nothing – no GMAT or GRE, which I personally took as well – gets even close. Besides, the so-called “golden standard” bar test was even tougher than its current UBE format.
So, if you have any difficulties with your bar prep, don’t panic. Rather, take a look at my list above. Like mine, your hardships may, in fact, be beneficial. Aware of them, you train more and more.
The main goal to pass a bar exam — like to study law in the first place — is to get an attorney license. This is because such a qualification allows you to practice law.
I was a first-time bar test taker. I was strongly determined to avoid shifting that status to second-, third-, and counting time taker.
For me, it was important to pass on the first try. This goal, at the same time, seemed to be overoptimistic. As a matter of fact, some colleagues unfortunately tried 2-3 times. In my case, a second try could simply never happen. This is because work and other circumstances could easily interfere.
That said, passing the New York bar exam seemed to be a distant dream only. I basically committed to try.
After all, how was I supposed to manage those difficulties above?
Not only did I not anticipate to pass the tough test but I also subconsciously prepared to sit it for another time…
Once I received an email from the Board of Law Examiners, I was simply shocked. To my greatest surprise, I immediately spot the following magic phrase:
congratulates you on passing the New York State bar examination
That was unbelievable and unexplainable!
I sincerely wish you to experience such an excitement at least once in your life.
The best part?
I could not believe that I managed to pass both the New York bar exam and the MPRE on the very first attempt. That’s in spite of the obstacles outlined above. When I found out the result, I could not be happier. That was one of the best joys in a lifetime. Whether anything can ever beat that excitement is yet to see.
Likewise, once you pass your bar exam, you will sense the meaning of this statement: Nothing is impossible. The rewarding feeling is truly worthy. It will likely be one of the happiest moments of your life.
After all, the main goal to pass a bar exam — like to study law in the first place — is to get an attorney license. This is because it allows to practice law.
Bar Exam Stats
In July 2014, some 11,195 people took the NY bar exam, out of which 7,265 passed it. The pass rate was 65%. That pass rate of less than 2/3 was historically among the lowest. This data flows from the 2014 Statistics (see the bottom of page 10) of the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).
It goes without saying that the NY bar exam, especially its previous (i.e., pre-UBE) version, was among the toughest in the US. The primary rival was the California bar exam. Regardless, around 80% of all LLM graduates sitting for the US bar exams do that in the New York State.
Now, the best part: How did I manage to turn the above difficulties into success?
Bar Exam Prep
In view of the difficulties discussed above, I needed an effective and efficient way to prepare for the NY bar exam. I googled all the best bar prep courses available out there and stumbled upon one that appeared to be particularly appealing. It was most affordable and convenient.
What was so special about that bar exam prep course?
Bar Review Benefits
Hardly known at the time, that bar review provided the following benefits:
- Success rate higher than the state average by over 10 p.p.;
- Reasonable price of over 4-5 times cheaper than other sound bar reviews, such as BarBri or Kaplan;
- Pass guarantee allowing for refund;
- Lifetime access until you pass your exam;
- Clear bar exam study guide;
- Time-saving (concise and precise) prep materials;
- Pace-minded approach to test drills;
- All lectures, outlines, multiple-choice questions (MCQ), flashcards, and essays available on iPad and iPhone;
- Convenience of bar review program to study at own schedule and pace;
- Lectures on all tested areas of law given by professors of relevant subjects;
- Real Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) practice questions from previous exams;
- Explanations for all MBE MCQ answers;
- Search function to find necessary keywords; and
- Personal review of 2 practice essays by former bar exam graders.
Best Bar Exam Prep Courses
Given the above advantages, that course was my only prep tool.
I have never tried such popular bar review courses as BarBri, Kaplan, or Themis. So, I cannot indicate the best bar review course objectively.
What I can tell for sure, however, is that the course I took sufficed to pass the NY bar exam.
That’s actually all I needed.
By the way, which bar prep course would you prefer?
Just vote and discover the poll results here:
How does your course preference compare to choices of your bar prep peers?
Nowadays, we all hear a great deal about disruptive innovation. Online apps replace physical things.
The bar review course I took is a vivid example of disruptive innovation in bar exam prep. The days of old-school book-pile prep courses may be fading away.
Along these lines, I felt that the online course was a more progressive way to study in the modern day and age.
If I managed to pass the New York bar exam under those perplexing conditions, you should have a much higher chance to succeed. That’s regardless of which bar review course you choose — even if you miss the best bar prep courses.
To this end, the online course exceeded my expectations by far. It was the best professional investment I have ever made. Thus, if you stand at the crossroads of which bar prep course to pick, consider to get an online bar review course.
Now, are you dreaming to pass a bar exam on your first attempt in September 2020 or anytime soon?
As you can see, you can do it!
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What are you struggling with in your bar exam preparation?
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Finally, you can get the bar exam prep course name, passing tips, and more here: