How Hard Is The Bar Exam (Prep Guide)

As an aspirant lawyer, you must be familiar with the Bar exam. It’s the first step to getting into the profession. This test will determine whether you’re the right fit to proceed with practicing in any jurisdiction. 

But how hard is the Bar exam? 

To be honest, the Bar exam is hard. One needs rigorous law knowledge to crack it. This is the reason almost 40% of students who take the exam fail it. But the passing percentage varies from state to state. For some states, like California, the exam is even harder, and very few people manage to crack it on their first attempt. 

Don’t get scared. With proper preparation, dedicated study, and with the right research techniques, you can pass the Bar. 

Let’s go into more detail about the Bar examination so that you delve on the right track. 

What Makes The Bar Exam So Hard? 

The main reason the Bar is hard is that it covers a wide variety of law content. The syllabus is almost never-ending, and you’ll come across new topics almost every other day. 

The exam does not cover topics specific to any particular state. Instead, you’ll get questions from all states of the US like- property law, contracts, constitutional law, etc. 

Therefore, most students struggle to make a coherent study plan and prioritize the syllabus based on what’s important and what’s not. 

Furthermore, the exam is conducted for two days. The first day is dedicated to multiple-choice questions and the second day is for essay-type questions. 

Besides that, the questions asked in the Bar are far from easy. You’ll find tricky questions that’ll frustrate you to the core. For the multiple-choice questions, the answers are so tricky that you’ll feel like tearing your hair out. 

Having knowledge of the correct answer is not just enough. You need to apply your understanding and knowledge to the essay-type questions. 

Moreover, you don’t get ample time to spend on a single question. In addition to dealing with jaw-breaking questions, your time management game needs to be bang on. 

Some even say that the Bar exam is harder than the CPA due to the amount of information you need to consume. If that’s not enough, you must have proper analyzing skills to reinstate your explanations for the essay-type exams, which I mentioned already. 

All these combined make the Bar exam very difficult to crack. For most people cracking the exam in one go is quite difficult.  

What Is The Bar Exam Pattern? 

The Bar exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions on the first day. The topics for the exam include- civil procedures, criminal law, constitutional laws, contracts and sales, federal rules of civil procedures, property issues, and federal rules of evidence. 

BAR Exam Pattern

On the next day of the exam, you’re required to write six essay-type questions and performance task questions. The syllabus for these questions varies from state to state based on the law of each state. 

Students opting for multiple state Bar exams should keep track of the particularities of the exams. 

Tips To Prepare For The Bar Exam & Not Get Overwhelmed With The Huge Syllabus 

Even though the Bar exam is pretty tough, you can crack it with proper dedication and hard work. Following are some of the pro tips from experts that’ll help you with the preparation- 

Make A Well Planned Study Schedule:

Even though it may sound basic, you must make an effective study plan along with an effective study strategy. As mentioned earlier, the syllabus for the Bar exam is like swimming in the ocean, and the seashore is nowhere to be seen. 

But it’s not humanly possible to remember each and everything. Therefore, you must prioritize what’s important and what’s not. First of all, segregate the topics, and see which one carries more marks. To understand this, you’ll have to refer to previous year’s papers as well as take some expert recommendations. 

Once you do that, dedicate time for each section. Make everyday learning goals and make sure you stick to your plan. Finish whatever you’ve planned for the day. 

Find out what the most commonly tested question papers are and dedicate more time to those areas. Lastly, don’t run away from the topics you find hard. It’s a common tendency among people to skip tough topics. Attack your weak areas and invest more time in them. 

Make Yourself Aware Of The Exam System: 

Making yourself aware of the exam’s system is crucial. Find out about the scoring system and question pattern, find out if there is a provision for negative marking or not, and other exam-related particularities. 

These details will help you prepare accordingly. Practice tests, previous year’s questions, and keeping track of the exam pattern will help here. 

Keep Practicing Test Papers:

Practicing test papers is the most crucial step of preparation for any competitive exam, including the Bar. Most Bar prep books will have practice tests. Also, collect the previous year’s papers for as many years as you find. 

You’ll most likely find common questions if you practice at least 10 years of previous year papers. I know it may sound like a lot. But hard work is the way to taste success. 

Focus On Time Management Skills: 

Learning the art of time management is another way to not get overwhelmed by the exam. Since you’ll have to consume a lot of information, you must focus on time management. 

Also, learned time management through the practice tests. You need to answer 200 multiple-choice questions in three hours. For the second paper, you’ll have to write multiple essay-type questions in three hours. 

And you can only learn time management when you practice lots of question papers. Don’t spend too much time on a question you’re not sure of. Leave the unsure questions for later, and answer the ones you surely know the answer to first. 

Make Sure To Get Enough Rest And Eat Well: 

Mental fatigue is pretty common while preparing for the Bar. Since you need to study so much, you’ll certainly go through mental pressure. 

Even though dedicating enough study time is essential, it should not compromise your eating and sleeping schedule. Make sure to eat a good diet and sleep for at least seven hours. Also, exercise for some time. 

A healthy mind and body are important for retaining information. Keeping yourself locked in a room won’t help you. Go for a walk, listen to some good music, and watch podcasts while you keep up with your studies. 

If Required, Enroll In A Good Bar Exam Preparation Course: 

Enrolling in a good Bar prep course may prove beneficial. As I have said repeatedly, the course is a huge one. You may get confused as to where to begin and where to end. Good coursework will make the roadmap for you and will provide quality study materials. 

Moreover, experienced coaches can give you valuable advice to amp up your preparation. Furthermore, this coursework gives you access to many practice tests necessary for Bar preparation. 

Reasons Why People Fail The Bar Exam

There is no doubt that the Bar Exam is difficult, but with proper preparation and practice, anyone can ace this exam. But here we have given some of the reasons why people are failing the Bar Exam.

  • Not Studying Much: The biggest reason for failure can be students taking the Bar Exam lightly and not giving it their all. It can also be possible they did study well with whatever resources they had but still failed. To avoid this issue, you should get a Bar Prep course and study with it regularly.
  • Not Taking Practice Tests: You’ve studied plenty for the Bar exam but haven’t tested your knowledge by giving a practice test. It is most likely that you will fail the actual exam. The practice test allows you to understand how you can manage your time during the actual exam and the questions’ levels.
  • Studying Without Understanding: If you’re thinking that the Bar exam is similar to all the other academic exams you’ve given in your life, then you’re so wrong. You need to understand the law and also prepare for critical thinking questions to pass the exam.
  • Overload Of Information: Another reason for failure can be an overload of information. You’ve studied too much for the exam, and now you’re exhausted and have forgotten half the things you’ve studied. So it is better to prepare a strategy so you don’t get overloaded with information and overwhelm yourself.

Is There Any Good Coursework For The Bar Exam? 

Yes, there is a lot of good coursework for the Bar exam. Mentioned below are some of the best options trusted by Bar toppers- 

1. Kaplan Bar Review:

Kaplan is a trusted platform when it comes to different exam prep courses. Kaplan Bar Review also has the most extensive study material to assist you with all-around exam preparation. 

Kaplan Bar Review 

Each learning module has well-explained answers so that students get A to Z knowledge of everything. Furthermore, there are practice questions to assess your understanding. 

Learn, Practice, Review & Catch Up: this is the rule of thumb of Kaplan. This format is chosen for maximum information retention while understanding the topics. 

Also, the combination of both video lessons and in-person explanations provides more clarity to students. Overall, Kaplan Bar Review can be your right hand in Bar prep. Kaplan Bar Review prices start from $2100. 

2. BarMax Bar Review:  

BarMax is another best Bar prep courses trusted by toppers and experts. BarMax provides some of the best in-depth course material structured in the most coherent way. 

BarMax Bar Review  

Apart from their course material, BarMax provides video lessons from Harvard Law School professors. Besides, BarMax provides more than 1400 MBE questions sourced from NCBE. 

So ultimately, these practice questions are from actual tests help previously. In addition to the course material, you get a study planner with daily goals, assignments, etc. Simply put, when you take the BarMax Bar Review course, you get a complete package of study material, practice tests, a study calendar, and more. BarMax Bar Review is priced at $1895.  

3. BarBri Prep:

BarBri is a renowned name in Bar preparation and has been offering courses for almost fifty years. Their course is, again, one of the most in-depth ones. BarBri offers both in-person and video lessons. So there is flexibility to pick whichever mode of learning you prefer. 

BarBri Prep 

BarBri provides its students with quality course content. But additionally, they give practice materials and prep books. Once you enroll in BarBri, they will send you top-notch books such as MBE Practice Questions, MEE, Simulated MBE, The Conviser Mini Review For MEE-MBE, etc. To enroll in BarBri prep, you’ll have to pay $2999. 

4. Studicata Bar Review: 

The next best pick for the Bar prep course is the Studicata. Studicata has a well-defined course structure with a proper outline to vet students the right way. Additionally, their digitally engaging video content keeps students hooked throughout the classes. 

Studicata Bar Review 

Studicata has over 180 hour-long video lectures delivered by its founder and the Bar exam guru Michael. Other than the video lessons, you’ll get tons of other study materials to fuel your Bar prep. But the only drawback is that Studicata video lessons are not as professional as others. But that’s the least bothering thing for me. 

Studicata Bar Review, like others mentioned in the list, is expensive and will cost you $1995. 

5. Bar Prep Hero: 

I’m wrapping up the list of some of the best Bar prep courses with an affordable option. The Bar Prep Hero is available for $499, which is way cheaper than the previous options. But cheaper does not mean it’s bad quality. 

Bar Prep Hero

Bar Prep Hero is more like a practice test course. It gives you tons of MEE, MBE, and MPT material directly from the conductors of the UBE portions of the exam, NCBE. 

The practice tests are backed by detailed explanations while citing relevant law cases. As a whole, the Bar Prep Hero is all about practice, practice, and more practice. 

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Final Thoughts! 

Even though the Bar exam is a hard nut to crack, dedication, practice, and hard work will bring the sweet fruit of success. Make sure you follow the prep tips I shared, and if needed, you can join a good Bar prep coursework too. 

Let me know how your preparations are going in the comments!

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