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Understanding the Bar Exam and How to Pass it

The excitement aspiring lawyers feel as they get closer to finishing law school is daunted by one thing: the looming shadow of the bar exam. Failing to pass the exam would be devastating, but passing it is the first step toward starting down their dream career path. As a result, many wish to pass it as soon as possible.Understanding the bar exam is the first step toward passing it, starting with what “bar” stands for. While there is some debate about what the “bar” in the bar exam actually stands for, many believe it refers to the barrier that separates the general public from court proceedings. 
For you, simply view it as the barrier between you and your legal career—once you pass it, you can take the next steps toward your future.
Defining the Bar Exam
The bar exam is one of the requirements for becoming a lawyer. In most states, a JD degree is also necessary. Most states also require a passing grade on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination or MPRE as well. The bar exam specifically is held twice a year, with one date being in February and another being in July, and you can’t take this test outside of these dates.
The exam is spread across two days, with different tests each day. The first is typically reserved for the 200-question long MBE or Multistate Bar Examination, which covers a wide range of topics from Constitutional Law to Evidence. The second will usually consist of essays written about a wide range of subjects, with the MEE and MPT becoming more commonplace.
While bar examiners will look over essays and grade tests, they will also review the character and fitness of each candidate. This happens in many ways, at different times, and considers different things based on where a student is seeking their degree and exams.
Taking and Retaking it
The requirements for even being able to take the bar exam vary by state, as do the specific contents of each exam. Before you take the bar, consider where you would like to practice law. While many will seek to go to the same law school, they will take the bar in; this isn’t necessary. This may seem strange, but it’s comforting to peopleafraid of failing the exam, as some states are more forgiving about retakes than others.
The limits of taking the bar exam can be broken down into three categories: no set limit, discretionary limit, and absolute limit. Many states have no set limit on how many times you can retake the bar exam, so if you fail your first or sixth test, you can study and retake it on the next test date. 
States with absolute limits will allow you to retake the test only a handful of times, so you must move on if you fail your final allowed attempt. In these states, there’s no way to convince them to allow you another retake once the limit is reached. 
The middle ground between absolute limits and no set limits is discretionary limits. States with discretionary limits do have a limit, but you may be able to convince the state to allow you to try again once you’ve hit the limit. Before taking the bar exam, see what the retake limit is in your particular state. 
Peeking at its Contents
Before you begin studying for your bar exam, it may be wise to get an idea of how you’ll be tested. While we briefly mentioned the types of tests you’ll take earlier, we’ll go more in-depth about each one here, starting with what a UBE or Uniform Bar Exam is. 
A UBE is a multistate exam with three different parts: the MEE, MBE, and MPT. The UBE is becoming more popular due to the fact that your score will transfer from one state to another so long as the other state also offers the UBE. This means that if you get a high grade, you can practice law in multiple states without needing to retake the bar but keep in mind that each state sets its own passing grade.
The MEE or Multistate Essay Examination is exactly what it sounds like, which will require you to answer six different essay questions with a limit of thirty minutes for each question. Up to twelve areas of law may be touched upon in these questions, and the jurisdiction that provided the test will also grade it, so also be sure to keep that in mind.
The Multistate Bar Examination or MBE is a two-hundred-question long test. Luckily, you won’t have to answer all two hundred questions at once. Instead, the test is spread across morning and afternoon sessions, with one hundred questions being answered in each. An interesting thing to note is that twenty-five of the questions aren’t intended to be graded; they’re experimental questions. However, you won’t know which twenty-five aren’t graded, so be sure to answer each one to the best of your ability.
The MPT or Multistate Performance Test allows you to flex your legal knowledge. While the specifics vary based on whether your state offers its own PT or the MPT, the basics don’t change: you’ll be given a legal scenario and will need to draft up the specified legal response. This test is about how well you apply the rules in any given situation, which will provide a window into how you may handle your future legal cases.
Preparing for Exam Day
There’s a wide range of bar exam test prep resources to make studying for the bar exam far easier. From utilizing tutors to practice tests, you’re sure to find the right tool for you that will help you succeed. If you’re struggling to understand a section of the law, then look for tutors in your state to help you understand it. 
We all want to see you succeed, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of any option you can to help you pass the bar exam.

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