The dreaded Bar Exam. Even for those unacquainted with the legal profession, pop culture has taught us that the Bar Exam is to be feared and painstakingly prepared for. But for those studying to become lawyers, this reality is all too real.
A recent study from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners shows that Florida’s law school students do quite poorly on their Bar Exam the first time through. Even though these aren’t first-time test takers, the results are staggering and show just how hard taking the Bar Exam can be.
Here are a few percentages for several Florida universities’ law students on their first attempt at the Bar Exam:
- Florida Coastal–32.7%
- Barry University–35.9%
- University of Florida–56.3%
- University of Miami–53.1%
- Florida International University–84.6%
- Nova Southeastern University–75.0%
While not all schools performed poorly (another shout-out for Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University!), the data seems to show one common trend: the larger the testing group, the poorer the results. Does this correlate to the size of a cohort or with class sizes? Only time or another exhaustive study can provide us with the answer.
Why is the Bar Exam so difficult?
The results of this study, and many others, beg the question: why exactly is the Bar Exam so difficult? These are some of the reasons why students wind up doing very poorly, or even failing, their Bar Exams and and how you can avoid some common pitfalls.
- A simple rule of thumb to follow: you’ll pass the exam with your strengths, and you’ll fail with your weaknesses. Instead of spending a lot of time trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths (often, this is impossible or at least very unlikely), devote time to refining your strengths so that you know you’ll do your best on these sections!
- Stress is killer: the stress (and intimidating aura) surrounding the Bar Exam can cause students to get flustered and anxious. This can create a number of problems, including causing students to attempt to cram too much information (effectively learning nothing) and literally pushing their bodies to their limits. This naturally puts students off their A-game.
- While you might know the law in and out, you may not have the proper skills of showing your work and making a convincing argument. These are both skills that any successful lawyer will need to have.
- You don’t manage your time wisely. The Bar Exam has timed sections, and if you can’t work with those strict guidelines, you will surely fail. Studying time management skills is a great way to increase your chances of success.