Pass Fail ExamAnyone who has ever passed the bar exam feels like they can give expert advice to anyone else preparing for the exam. We all have that drunk uncle who also happens to be an attorney who wants nothing more than to share with you their secret for passing, however, the reality is that most people, even those that have passed the bar exam, don’t really understand the exam, let alone why they passed.

As you begin your preparation for this July’s bar exam, here is a sample of some of the most commonly thrown-around tips and whether they have any merit.

Myth: Just focus on studying for the MBE section of the test.

False. Bad advice. Most state’s bar exams have different components — the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), the essays (Multistate Essay Exam-MEE), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Each section is an opportunity to earn points. While many states give greater weight to the MBE, you cannot pass the bar by excelling on just one section of the exam. After all, as with any multiple choice question, there is only one right answer and there is no partial credit. Either you know the answer or you don’t. However, with the essays and MPT, you can still score points even when you don’t know the law, as long as you demonstrate an ability to properly analyze the facts. Adding extra points on the MEE and MPT will put less pressure on your MBE performance. In our bar exam retaker course you learn how to balance your study preparation and work on maximizing your score on all sections of the exam.

Myth: The essay graders know your MBE score and if you do well on the MBE, they do not even grade your essays.

False. This is a widely spread rumor that is just not true. The MBE is computer graded and each essay is evaluated by a grader who does not know how you performed on the balance of the test. However, it is important to remember that the grader is a real human being who has seen thousands of essays. They can tell when you are BS-ing them and whether or not you understand what is at controversy and the applicable law to answer the question.

Myth: A bar course cannot improve your chances of passing the bar exam.

True. Studies have shown that first time exam takers pass the bar exam in GPA order, meaning that those ranked lower are much more likely to fail than those at the top of their class. A bar course alone cannot help you improve those odds, especially since everyone is essentially taking the same course. As Syndrome in the Incredibles said, “When everyone’s super, no one is!” If you are in the lower half of the class, you may want to look into getting a bar exam tutor to improve your odds. Students at the top of their class could have a 95% chance of passing while those in the lower portion could have only a 20% chance unless they do something more to work on their test taking skills and comprehension.

Myth: Bar Exam Tutors are for remedial purposes only.

False. Bar candidates hire tutors to make them more competitive; it makes studying more efficient.  If everyone is taking a bar review course, the playing field is neutralized. Doing something extra is what is needed to maximize your chances of passing.

Myth: As you get close to the exam spend most of your time on your weaknesses.

False: You pass the bar exam on your strengths. Don’t chase a weakness just before the exam. Sometimes you just have to let it go. Two-thirds of the torts section on the MBE will be about negligence. Get the big stuff down. Even if you don’t know the rules for invasion of privacy, you may not even see it on the exam, however, there will be negligence.

Myth: While studying for the bar exam, you will not be able to work at all, and won’t have any social life for two months.

Not necessarily. However, studies show that working fulltime does reduce your odds of passing. Our best advice is to devote as much time as you can to studying; treat it like a job. As for your social life, it will slow down for a couple of months, however, you will have plenty of time to party when you receive notice of passing.

Myth: If you fail the bar exam, it was most likely because you just did not study enough or memorize enough law. Going back to the same prep course and listening to the same lectures this time, will make the difference.

False. Unfortunately this advice has caused many, many retaker students around the country to fail again and again. If the first time review course you took did not work for you, the worst thing you can do is to retake the same course and think things will change. You need a new approach, one that shows you how to actually get points on the exam with the rules of law that you already have learned. The Marino Retaker Course is designed for students in this exact situation.

If you have any other questions about advice you heard about studying for the bar exam, or you are retaking the exam and need help, just contact us. You can send your score report to info@marinolegal.com to receive an entirely free evaluation.


The above article was written by Professor Joseph Marino prior to his passing. Professor Marino was a fixture in the world of legal education for the past 40 years. His wife Emily and son Michael continue his commitment to help law students pass the bar exam and accomplish their goals as successful attorneys through The Retaker Bar Course for the UBE,Bar Exam Tutoring, and Continuing Legal Education. If you were unsuccessful on the bar exam and would like a free evaluation of your score report, just email it to info@marinolegal.com