Resilience, Determination, and Passing the Bar Exam After Several Attempts


It's common knowledge that the bar exam is extremely difficult to pass. It calls for in-depth knowledge, careful planning, and tenaciousness. Intimidating as it may be, many people see a first-time passing of the bar exam as an impossibly high bar to clear. But some people need to try a few times before they succeed. The same can be said of me. After three determined attempts, I finally passed the New York State Bar Exam this past February.

It's important to keep in mind that you're not the only one who has experienced the crushing disappointment of repeated bar exam failures. Many people before you have faced and conquered the same difficulties and barriers you do now and gone on to pass the bar exam. While this may be discouraging and demoralizing at the time, please know that help and encouragement are always on the horizon to help you succeed. Stay positive!

Bar Prep Tips

After three attempts at the bar exam while working full-time and two years of post-graduation bar preparation, I can attest to the importance of resilience and determination. The ability to recover quickly from setbacks is crucial for steadily progressing toward a long-term objective. Moreover, you must possess the unwavering determination to succeed regardless of your obstacles. Here are some pointers on how to strengthen your resilience and determination:

  • Believe in yourself. To do well on the bar exam, you must first believe you can do well. When you don't have faith in yourself, no one else will. Believe that you can do well on the bar exam, and tell yourself that. Before each study session, I recited one of my favorite personal affirmations.
  • Don't give up. No matter how many times you fail, don't give up on your dream of becoming a lawyer. Keep studying, keep practicing, and keep believing in yourself. Remember that failure is just a stepping-stone toward success. Each setback is an opportunity to learn and grow. 
  • Find a support system. Having a support system of friends, family, or other law students can make a big difference in your journey to passing the bar exam. These people can offer encouragement, advice, and a shoulder to cry on when needed. After my second attempt, I contacted my network and mentors at The Color of Excellence. Their support was invaluable, whether I needed someone to review an MPT or to listen to me vent after a challenging study session. 
  • Take care of yourself. Taking care of your physical and mental health while studying for the bar exam is important. Ensure you get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly. You should also take time each day to relax and de-stress. This can include meditating, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. 

Bar Study Tips

The bar exam is complex, but it is possible to pass it. Do not give up; the results of your perseverance and determination will be worth it in the end. In addition to the things that have already been mentioned, you can improve your chances of passing the bar exam by engaging in the activities listed below.
  1. Identify your weaknesses. After each attempt, reflecting on your performance and understanding the areas where you struggled is crucial. This reflection helps pinpoint concepts you did not fully grasp or comprehend. Recognizing these weak points allows you to allocate your time and efforts toward studying those areas. Embracing your weaknesses with a growth mindset will enhance your understanding of the law. Remember, acknowledging weaknesses is not a sign of failure but a stepping stone toward progress and self-improvement. 
  2. Get help from a tutor or study group. Especially if you are struggling on your own. A tutor can help you identify your weaknesses and develop a study plan. A study group can provide you with support and motivation. They can also offer different perspectives and insights that enhance your understanding of the subject matter. Additionally, studying with others can help you stay accountable and on track with your study plan. Don't hesitate to seek assistance when needed; it's a sign of strength and determination to seek help to achieve success.
  3. Take practice exams. The best way to prepare for the bar exam is to take practice exams. By taking practice exams, you can familiarize yourself with the structure and content of the bar exam. As you review your answers, pay attention to any patterns or recurring mistakes that can guide your future study sessions. Remember, practice makes perfect, and by dedicating time to practice exams, you are actively preparing yourself for success on the bar exam. 
  4. Manage your time wisely. Time management is vital during the exam. Since it is a timed test, it is essential to allocate your time wisely. By practicing answering questions under timed conditions, you can understand how much time you should spend on each question. This will help you avoid getting stuck on difficult questions and ensure that you have enough time to complete the entire exam. Remember to give yourself enough time to practice real NCBE MBE questions, previously released essays, and MPTs if you want to do well on the bar exam. 
  5. Stay positive. It is essential to stay positive throughout the bar exam process. Don't let a few setbacks discourage you. Keep believing in yourself and keep working hard. Remember that the bar exam is challenging, but with the right mindset and preparation, you can overcome any obstacles. Remember that success on the bar exam is not solely determined by intelligence or natural ability but by dedication and perseverance. Trust in your abilities, stay positive and give it your all. 

Don't Give  Up!

Here are some stories of people who passed the bar exam after multiple attempts:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the bar exam four times before passing. She went on to become a Supreme Court Justice.
  • Thurgood Marshall took the bar exam three times before passing. He went on to become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.
  • Sonia Sotomayor took the bar exam twice before passing. She went on to become the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.
  • Kamala Harris took the bar exam twice before she passed. She eventually became the first female Vice President of the United States.

If you are resilient, determined, and well-prepared for the bar exam, you can pass it the first, second, or even third. Your goal of becoming a lawyer is admirable; you shouldn't give up on it. Keep fighting, and you'll get where you want to be.

Let me know if you'd like more bar prep tips or to explore any subject. Send me any questions you may have about my process. I'm here for you!

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