Bar Exam Tip: What to do if you failed the July 2013 California bar exam . . .

pexels-photo-562614Hello Everyone,

By now, if you have taken the July bar exam, you have received your bar results. If you have failed the July 2013 bar exam, I want to encourage you and let you know that all is not lost. First of all, it is devastating to fail – and it is absolutely the last thing that you planned to have happen. The California bar exam is considered the hardest bar exam in the country. Having taken it, you know that is a very challenging test – you don’t need me to tell you that. But, there are some things I would like to pass along to you that might help you in the days ahead. Below is some advice on what to do if you did not pass.

If you have failed the bar exam, keep in mind that you are in good company. Also, realize that the bar exam is not an IQ test. Many very bright and hardworking examinees fail the exam. If you have failed, you will need to do the following:

1) Get past being devastated as quickly as possible – as harsh as this sounds, you really do just need to get back to work as soon as you can. Those that do, have the best chance of passing the next exam. Start by doing MBEs. I am not suggesting that you don’t mourn having failed the exam, but do your best to move on from it as soon as you can.

2) This is going to hurt, but – find out why you failed – this starts by getting your scores back from the bar. The bar will automatically mail score sheets to all examinees who failed the bar. This usually takes 1 – 3 days after bar results come out (so, for July 2013 examinees who fail, it could be as soon as November 25th and even some will receive their score sheet as early as today). When you get your scores, don’t panic and don’t make assumptions about any one section. You will receive both a raw score and a scaled score. Take the time to read the materials that come with your score sheet that explain the raw and scaled scores. See also, other posts on this blog about making it to re-read and interpreting bar scores. And, if you need help interpreting your scores, you can get it free through Bar None Review (You can email it to Please be sure to include your phone number with your actual score sheet (we apologize, but we will not be able to review your scores for you unless it is your actual score sheet, we will keep your information confidential and will never share it in anyway).

3) Commit to taking and passing the next exam– in almost every case, I would recommend taking the very next bar exam. Obviously there are sometimes good reasons to sit out a bar exam administration – but in most cases, the best advice is to take the very next exam. Think about it, if the material seems like it has fallen out of your head right now – just think how hard it will be to put it all back together if you wait another six months – that would be a whole year since your last review – not a good plan.

4) Develop a plan of attack– Your plan might include taking another bar review course, hiring a tutor, or continuing your studies on your own. There are many courses available (assuming you already tried barbri) that cater to different needs – small classes, private tutorials. Do your research and due diligence before enrolling in a course. Ask for references, ask to see the course materials before enrolling, make sure the bar review provider is a good fit for your needs. And, don’t abandon your common sense – if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. But, whatever you do (take a course or study on your own) make a plan – figure out how many hours you will study each day, where you will study, how long will you have to review each topic, how many essays you will write each week, how many MBEs you will do each day, how many PTs you will write – figure it out, map it out and develop a plan. Also, search this blog for past study plans (I have posted several) and continue to follow this blog for additional tips and study plans.

5) Work hard – no matter how hard you worked the first time, you are going to have to work just that hard again. And, if in your honest assessment of your prior bar studies you conclude that you did not work hard enough – well then you are going to have to work harder. There simply is no magic bullet.

Also, if you are in the Los Angeles or Orange County areas, consider attending one of our free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshops. Our next free workshop will be held in Los Angeles on December 4th from 7:00 to 9:30 pm. You can register online here.

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review and