6 Reasons People Fail the Bar Exam

January 18 2019 By Pieper Bar Review
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The path to passing the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) isn’t always clear. Fortunately, you’re not the first person to take it, and prior takers' experiences can be invaluable to your success. There are plenty of helpful questions a prospective lawyer could ask someone who’s passed this all-important test, but another inquiry holds just as much weight: “Why did you fail?”

We've compiled possible answers for you, so you can learn from their mistakes.

So, why do people fail the bar exam?

1. They didn’t study enough.

If someone frequently draws blanks during the exam, it may just be that they didn’t understand the law as well as they thought they did. Luckily, this is a simple issue to remedy. Be sure to include short study sessions over a longer period of time, cut out distractions, and avoid looking for excuses to skip studying.

2. They didn’t study the right way.

Frequent studying is an important part of any comprehensive studying plan. Much of that time could be wasted, however, if one doesn’t extract the full benefit of the subject materials. This is especially true when taking practice tests. While familiarizing yourself with the exam is important, be sure to go back and really assess your own performance. Check the questions you got wrong and those you got right, to improve or reinforce your understanding.


3. They focused too much on one portion of the exam.

The UBE is split into three portions: the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), each with a different format and purpose. Ironically, it’s common for test takers to focus so much on studying for the portion they’re most worried about that they actually overlook doing so for the other two, and end up performing poorly on them. Don’t let that happen to you. It’s always important to address the topics you’re weakest in, but don’t neglect the other parts in the process. You’ll need to be strong in all of them to pass.  

4. They weren’t prepared for the format.

This is another common reason people fail the UBE that can be remedied by taking practice exams. Having an extensive understanding of the material is crucial, but going into the exam not knowing how to adequately apply that knowledge can cost you valuable time, and ultimately, points.


5. They lost track of time.

Even when they’ve studied diligently for all portions of the UBE, some people can still fail the bar because they were unaccustomed to the time constraints of the actual test and had difficulty completing all questions and tasks. Try timing yourself during your next practice exam. Don't forget, you'll have: 

  • 90 minutes to complete each MPT question
  • 30 minutes to complete each MEE question
  • Three hours to complete each set of 100 MBE questions


6. They got nervous!

This can be one of the most important tests of a person’s career. It’s only natural that some people will let their nerves get the best of them. When that happens, it’s easy to get distracted, second-guess yourself, or even forget pieces of information you vigorously studied. Take a deep breath, trust yourself and the work you’ve put in, and do the best you can.

What now?

Once you know some of the common reasons others have failed the bar exam, you’ll be better equipped to avoid the same obstacles. Even with great study habits, though, passing the UBE can be a challenge. Know you're not alone. Registering for a bar exam review course grants you access to helpful guidance and resources.

Pieper's Full Bar Review Course prepares students for the UBE with more than 1,500 practice MBE questions, MEE and MPT workshops, comprehensive lectures, and much more. Contact Us, today, to learn more about why Pieper People Pass

About the author

Pieper Bar Review

For over forty years, Pieper Bar Review has taught students the legal concepts and skills necessary for success on the bar exam, and reinforced students’ knowledge through thought provoking examples and bar exam questions. The proof that the Pieper teaching method works is found in the success of our former students – now present-day attorneys. Learn more

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