Taking and doing well on the bar exam requires a lot of pre-planning, and one of the key questions you will likely ask, before and after getting your scores, is how many times you should take the exam. One point that we will mention right away is that your prime concern when it comes to successfully taking the bar exam is passing. To become a licensed lawyer, you must pass the bar for the state in which you want to practice.
So, if you wish to practice law, you should take the exam as many times as it takes to achieve that passing score. However, of course, another consideration is price. Prices in every state vary between $150 and $1,500, so this exam can get expensive.
For more extensive information about how many times one should take the exam as well as some details about the exam, read on!
Once you successfully complete your law degree, the next step to take is taking and passing the bar so that you can practice law as an attorney. The test varies by state, but the most consistent format is the exam taking place over the span of 2 days.
One day typically is multiple-choice, and the second day is typically all essay questions. Some states administer alternatively offer either a 2.5- or 3-day exam. Throughout the calendar year, these exams are typically held every February and July.
Finally, in terms of content, these exams cover six main areas: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. These, of course, are all subject areas that law school covers extensively as well. However, the bar exam focuses on the specifics of the law in the state in which you take the exam, as opposed to the more generalized approach that a law school curriculum takes.
Preparing for the bar exam is typically a law student’s full-time job once they graduate from law school. It is a process that usually starts once they finish their law school final exams and continues until the first time they take the exam, which is usually in July. So, most students typically give themselves a 10-week period, between May and July, to prepare for that first exam session. Weekly, they typically devote 40-50 hours of studying per week.
The most common way to study is taking practice tests to get used to the testing format and to determine what material you need to brush up on. This includes both multiple choice practice, and preparing for essay writing, since the written portion of the exam makes up a large portion of your score in every state. Once you figure those areas out, the next step is memorization and review utilizing online sources and study books.
The bar exam is scored on a 400-point scale. Although each jurisdiction sets its own passing score, that benchmark commonly ranges between 260 and 280 out of 400. These scores are required to be met in order for the person taking the exam to continue on in their path to practicing law in their desired state.
So, after these copious hours of studying, how many people pass the first time who take it? According to the American Bar Association, about 88% of people who take the bar within two years of graduating from law school pass. By state, the bar exam pass rates vary, but land typically between 50-80%. Another takeaway here is that between 20-40% of people who take the exam fail.
If those individuals want to go on to practice law and become licensed as an attorney, they’ll have to retake the exam. The answer to how many times you should take the exam is however many times it takes you to pass. However, since the exam requires so many hours of study, it’d be in your best interest to take the exam as few times as possible.
If you need to retake the bar, be sure to educate yourself on the rules within your state. If you really want to, in 29 states, you can take the exam as many times as it takes to pass. These states include Florida, New Jersey and New York. Other states have a discretionary limit, meaning they only allow a certain number of attempts but will give participants another chance under certain circumstances. This includes Arizona (3), Virginia (5), and Maryland (3).
Lastly, some states have absolute limitations over how many times you can take the bar under any set of circumstances. Two of these states are Vermont (4) and New Hampshire (4).
The ultimate takeaway here should be that the number of times you should take the bar is the number of times it takes to pass. However, this amount could be limited by the maximum amount of tries your state allows. In any case, we’d recommend that you devote ample time to studying so you can take this exam the least possible amount of times to pass. These study hours are cumbersome, and you won’t want to spend months and months of your life, multiple times, to pass it and practice law.
So, for your own sake, the optimal number of times to take the bar is the fewest with a passing score. To learn how to best prepare to ensure a passing score the first time you attempt the bar, check out the study resources provided by TestPrepScore. Set yourself up for success and speed up your journey to practice in the field of law!