failed the uniform bar examI failed the Uniform Bar Exam! What should I do? Bar exam results have been released and you’ve received your official score report informing you that you failed the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). This is an incredibly frustrating moment. You may not know how to share the news with your family. You may not be sure you want to share this news with your friends or other fellow bar takers. And you are probably overwhelmed with the process of having to study and sit for the bar exam again.

Below is a step-by-step guide to help you figure out how to develop an efficient approach to retaking the bar exam.

I Failed the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)!
A Step-by-Step Guide on What to Do:

First, take a deep breath.

how to pass the Uniform Bar ExamTake a deep breath and a few days to process the news. Share the information with those closest to you – this is a good time to lean on your support system. Do your best to stay off of social media. There’s no need to stress out even more. Do not make any big decisions during these few days. Just give yourself some time to let the news sink in. We recommend you read this note to those who fail the bar exam.

If you are in the position where you have to tell your boss that you failed the bar exam, read this post on exactly how to tell your boss you failed the bar exam.

If you failed the uniform bar exam, remember you are not alone. There are so many others who have failed the uniform bar exam right along with you! Even though you may feel as if you are the only one going through this, you are not the first and you certainly will not be the last.

Second, thoroughly examine your score report.

The day you opened the mail you probably did not pay too much attention to all the information in the score report. And that is normal! But now that you have taken time to figure out why you failed the bar exam — and where to go from here — it is time to re-examine that score report!

UBE jurisdictions will state your overall UBE score in terms of a 400-point scale. Take some time to review how you did on each portion of the exam: the MBE (50% of the overall score), the MEEs (30% of the overall score), and the MPTs (20% of the overall score). This will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses on the exam.

Perhaps you had a high MBE score but a lower essay score. Or maybe you scored about the same on all of the sections. We will tell you how to figure out how you scored in relation to your peers, below. Because knowing this information is just one piece — but an important one! — in deciding how to approach your studies for the next administration.

Third, order a copy of your MEE and MPT answers.

The last thing you feel like doing is reading your failed MEE and MPT answers. Nor do you particularly feel like sharing them with anyone else who may want to advise you on how to study.

However, it is a very good idea to order a copy of your MEE and MPT answers to see how you answered each question. For most of us, the exam is one big blur of questions and we cannot accurately recall what we wrote for each question. Order them. Then be objective when you read them. They are not a statement of who you are or what you know. But they do show how you performed on exam day. And that is valuable information.

Make sure to follow the procedure at the end of your score report regarding how to get a copy of your MEE and MPT answers.  Note that each state has its own procedure and that copies of your answers must be requested within the time frame stated in the score report. Do not miss the deadline!

Next, assess your performance on the MBE.

In 2015, the mean MBE scaled score was 136.2 for the February exam and 139.9 for the July exam. It went up just a little bit this July — to a 140.3.

If you received an MBE score around 140, you are likely on par with the national average. For more detailed information on the 2015 MBE statistics see the NCBE website. If you scored below the national average on the MBE, devote more time to improving your MBE score.

Think back to your performance on the MBE. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was timing an issue for you?
    • Did you leave answers blank? If so, approximately how many questions?
    • Did you find yourself guessing on a lot of the questions?
    • Were you able to use process of elimination to help you make an educated guess?
  • Did you feel that you had a good grasp on the law for each of the MBE subjects? If not, how can you improve this next time?
  • Did you have trouble understanding the fact patterns and/or the answer choices? If so, did you practice enough? And if you think you did practice enough, did you practice well? (If not, it is worth it to read this post on how to improve your MBE score.)
  • Did you feel as though your preparation (through your commercial course, or however you prepared) was adequate? Or did you feel like something was missing?
  • Did the questions you practiced ahead of time feel like the “real” MBE questions or were you surprised? (Read this post on what the best MBE questions are, if you did not feel prepared.)

It may be worth it to get a tutor for the MBE or at least a totally different approach to the MBE. Check out our Uniform Bar Exam full service course here.  Read this post if you are wondering if an MBE tutor is right for you.

Assess your performance on the MEEs.

Some states use a six-point grading rubric for the MEEs, while other states use a ten-point grading rubric. What does this mean? If your state uses a six-point scale, you want to aim for at least a score of four on each MEE.  However, if your state uses a ten-point scale, you want to aim for at least a seven on each MEE.

If you did not attain the MEE score that you were hoping for, take some time to think back to your performance on the MEE.

  • Did you run out of time on any or all of the essays? (Read this post on how to improve your timing on the MEE if you ran into timing issues!)
  • Were you well prepared for the MEE? Did you practice enough MEE questions ahead of time? Read this post if you are wondering where to find past MEE questions and analyses for free.
  • Were you familiar with the highly-tested MEE subjects? Here is an MEE frequency chart. Moving forward, you should make sure you are especially well-prepared for the subjects you are likely to see.
  • Did you have trouble issue spotting?
  • Did you have trouble organizing your answer? If so, you may benefit by reading this post on how to write and format your MEE answer.
  • Did you know the rules of law that the essay was testing?
  • Did you feel as though your knowledge of any subject area was lacking? How can you improve it next time?

Read these posts on advice for the MEE and how to study for the MEE efficiently, if you are not sure where to start. If you are looking for better MEE subject outlines, read how we have the best MEE outlines. Also, consider signing up for our MEE course or our Uniform Bar Exam full service course here.

Further, if you are looking for an overview of the highly tested areas of law on the MEE to make sure that you know the highly-tested areas of law, check out our MEE one-sheets. These give you an overview of the highly-tested areas of the MEE in one sheet, front and back.

If you are wondering if an MEE tutor is right for you, see this post on how an MEE tutor can help you pass the MEE.

Assess your performance on the MPTs.

Some states use a six-point grading rubric for the MPTs, while other states use a ten-point grading rubric. What does this mean? If you are in a state uses a six-point scale, you want to aim for at least a four on each MPT.  On the other hand, if your state uses a ten-point scale, you want to aim for at least a seven on each MPT.

If you did not attain the MPT score that you were hoping for, take some time to think back to your performance on the MPT:

  • Did you run out of time on one or both of the MPTs? (If so, here is some advice on how to improve your timing on the MPT!)
  • Were you prepared? Did you do enough practice MPT problems? (Read this post on where to find past MPT questions if you did not practice enough ahead of time!)
  • Did you have trouble extracting the law from the library?
  • Did you have trouble applying the facts from the file to the law?
  • Were you prepared for the type of MPT task that you received? (See our MPT frequency chart here — this should give you guidance on what you are most likely to receive next time! You should also, of course, prepare for an unusual MPT task — just in case!)
  • Did you have trouble organizing your answer?
  • Read this post to see how the MPT is scored — what you get points to, and what you do not get points for!

Also ask, if you have trouble with a specific type of task. Maybe you have trouble with opinion letters, demand letters, persuasive briefs, or objective memorandums. Click on the links to read how you can increase your score for that specific type of task.

If you failed the MPTs or struggled on them, in this post, we have some additional questions to ask yourself. We also have additional MPT tips here if you are looking for basic MPT advice.  We also have a guide on how to pass the MPT.

If you are considering an MPT tutor, read this post to see how an MPT tutor can help you.

Evaluate how you studied to find what, exactly, caused you to have failed the Uniform Bar Exam.

If you failed the uniform bar exam, it is also important to review your study habits to see what did or did not work. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many weeks did you set aside to study for the exam?
  • Approximately how many hours per day did you study?
    • How many of those hours would you consider productive?
  • How did you prepare for the exam?
    • Did you use a bar review course?
      • What parts of your course did you find the most helpful?
      • What parts of the coursed did you find the least helpful?
    • Did you practice using real MBE questions?
      • How many questions did you answer?
    • Did you practice using real MEE questions?
      • How many essays did you do for each subject?
    • Did you practice each type of MPT (e.g., objective memorandum, persuasive brief, opinion letter, demand letter, etc.)?
    • Did you have access to quality outlines for each subject? Or did you find your outlines were not that helpful?
    • Did you do timed practice exams and carefully review your answers?
  • Did you manage your stress well (e.g., work out, get a massage, go for a walk, hang out with friends, etc.)?
  • Were you working while you studied for the exam?
    • If you were working, how much time off did you take off from work to study for the exam?
  • Were your studies interrupted by any major life events (e.g., a death in the family)?

Yes, these are a lot of questions to answer. But setting aside time to answer these questions will help you see how you can study for the bar exam more efficiently (and pass)!

Come up with a new approach.

Whatever you do, don’t do the exact same thing you did last time and plan to pass the bar exam! Change your approach!

We specialize in helping repeat takers pass the bar exam — you can see a variety of our courses, tutoring options, and books below! If you are looking for a full service approach that has helped students improve their UBE scores significantly, we highly recommend you check out our Uniform Bar Exam full service course.

If you are looking for additional guidance if you fail the bar exam, please review this detailed post on what to do if you fail the bar exam. It has additional guidance and questions to ask.   If you have failed the bar exam more than once, then it is well worth it to read this blog post on what to do if you fail the bar exam multiple times.