By the time you finish law school, you probably already have an idea of where you want to practice. That is the state where you will be taking the bar exam, so this is an important decision to make. The degree of difficulty of the bar exam varies by state; some states have notably more difficult exams than others, along with lower pass rates.



The California bar exam is notoriously difficult and has one of the lowest passing rates of any bar exam in the country. The exam takes two full days, including a performance test designed to assess applicants’ ability to handle a number of legal challenges involving a client, according to the State Bar of California, which created and administers the exam.

In addition to the performance test, the California bar exam as well as Kentucky Bar Examination (more info on, also includes five writing questions and the Multistate Bar Exam, a standardized bar test created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which is administered to applicants who take the bar in almost all the states of the country.



According to Anderson’s ranking, Arkansas has the second most difficult bar exam in the country. (Although Hillary Clinton said it was easier than the Washington, DC bar exam.) As in California, it is also a two-day bar exam. The degree of difficulty is due to the number of state and local laws represented on the exam. If you are planning to practice law in Arkansas, be sure to take your law exam seriously by studying.



The state of Washington also has a tough bar exam. There are three law schools in Washington, which produce a fairly large number of students each year who sit for the two-day exam. Additionally, Seattle is fast becoming one of the busiest cities in the country, attracting many bar exam candidates from other states. If you are considering practicing law in Washington, prepare for a challenging exam. And neighboring state Oregon also has a difficult bar exam.



Louisiana prepares its law students in a completely different way than any other state in the country: All four law schools teach both common law (the tradition in England and the other 49 United States) and civil law (the tradition in France and continental Europe). If you are considering practicing law in Louisiana, you need to go to law school in the state to learn about the unique legal system that exists there, and then take a bar exam that is completely unlike any other state.



There is only one law school (UNLV) in the state of Nevada, but having Las Vegas within state lines makes it a popular destination for new (and experienced) attorneys. The Nevada bar exam lasts two and a half days and has one of the lowest pass rates in the country. This is due to a combination of laws unique to the state and a higher required score to pass.

The easiest bar exams to pass

If you’re wondering which states have the easiest bar exams, stay at heart. South Dakota ranks as the state with the easiest exam, followed by Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa. There are fewer law schools in these states (South Dakota only has one, and Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa have two each), which means that, overall, there are fewer law graduates taking the bar. And Wisconsin has an even sweeter policy: Only those who attended law school in other states are required to take the bar exam. If you graduated from law school in Wisconsin, you are automatically admitted to the bar association through a policy known as diploma privilege.

If you are trying to decide which bar test to take, consider taking a jurisdiction that uses the multi-state bar test, discussed in the California section above. That bar test makes it easier to move between states that also use the test.

Most common reasons people fail


According to , nearly a quarter of all those who took the bar exam (24.9 percent to be exact) did not pass the test in 2017, the last year for which figures are available. But Karen Sloan, writing on the Legal Information website, notes that up to 36 percent failed the exam in Mississippi, making it the state with the highest failure rate, and nearly 60 percent failed in Puerto Rico. There are five key reasons why so many examinees fail the bar exam every year. Learning how to avoid these obstacles can help you pass this all-important test.

They tried to learn every detail of the law

The bar exam requires minimal proficiency knowledge of the law. However, many examinees are overwhelmed by the amount of material they need to study. So they try to study as they did in law school, learning every nuance and every detail.

This typically results in hours of listening to audio lectures and making flashcards or outlines, but very little time to review areas of the law that have been rigorously tested. Getting buried in the details can affect your chances of passing the exam. You are required to know a little about many laws, not much about a little. If you focus on the minutiae, you will miss the areas of the law that have been rigorously tested on the exam and that can put you at risk of failing.

They were unable to practice or seek feedback


Many students find that they don’t have time to practice. This is a problem because practice is particularly important when studying for the bar exam. For example, California requires applicants to take a performance test as part of the bar exam, as do many other states. The State Bar of California notes that the performance test is designed to evaluate test takers:

“… ability to handle a select number of legal authorities in the context of a factual issue involving a client.”

However, students often skimp on practicing for this difficult part of the exam, even though the above achievement tests are available for free online. Essays are also an integral part of the bar exams in most states. Therefore, it is important to practice this part of the test, and the sample exam questions are simple (and free) to access. The New York State Board of Law Examiners, For example, offers essay questions with sample candidate answers for free download of the February 2018 Law Examinations. If you are a candidate for the Law Exam, you should access these free questions, familiarize yourself with the material, and practice writing essays. or dealing with performance test scenarios.

After you practice, check your answers against the sample answers, rewrite the sections if necessary, and self-evaluate your work. Also, if your bar exam review program offers you feedback, turn in as many assignments as possible and make sure you get as much feedback as possible. You can even hire a bar exam tutor to help you with this.

They ignored the “MBE”

Most bar tests include a multi-state bar exam, a standardized bar test created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which is administered to applicants taking the bar in nearly every state in the country. However, just like with sample performance tests and sample essay questions, it’s easy to get real, and again free, MBE questions from previous bar exams, says JD Advising , a prep and tutoring company. for bar exams. Ashley Heidemann, writing on the JD Advising website, says that it is important to practice with actual MBE questions because they are “written in a very specific style.”

Although your company charges a fee for MBE questions, it also offers free advice on how to pass the MBE. The National Conference of Bar Examiners also offers free MBE questions from past exams. In fact, the NCBE non-profit is a great resource to prepare for all aspects of the bar, regardless of the state where you plan to take the exam. The group even offers a “Complete Guide to Bar Admission Requirements” for $ 15 as of 2018. It’s not free, but considering the importance of passing the bar, it would probably be worth the money for any college exam candidate. the bar, especially since the NCBE develops and distributes the MBE.

They didn’t take care of themselves

Students who take terrible care of themselves, so run the risk of illness, additional anxiety, exhaustion, and an inability to focus, often have a hard time passing the exam. Sure, this isn’t the time to start a new diet and/or exercise regimen, but you won’t do well on exam day if you’re tired, cloudy-eyed, stressed, and hungry because you haven’t been taking, took good care of yourself or not. ate properly. The condition of your physical body is an important element for the success of the bar exam, says Bar Exam Toolbox .

Self-sabotaging behavior

This type of behavior can present itself in many different ways: You can agree to volunteer in a time-consuming summer program, and as a result, you don’t have enough time to study. You may spend too much time online or socializing with friends instead of spending quality hours studying. You could get into a fight with your partner leaving you too emotionally drained to study.

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