LSAT reading comprehensionFebruary v. July Uniform Bar Exam: Which Exam is Easier?

Some students ask us which Uniform Bar Exam is easier – the February Uniform Bar Exam or the July Uniform Bar Exam.  There are a few different ways to approach this question – and really everything hinges on how you define “easier”. Easier could mean (1) more predictable, (2) more likely to be tailored to your strengths, or (3) an exam with a higher pass rate. We really don’t think that one bar exam administration is necessarily “easier” than the other. And we think rather than examining the test, you should examine personal factors instead. Below, we tell you why.

Factors to consider in determining whether the February or July Uniform Bar Exam is “easier”:

Is a February or July Uniform Bar Exam more predictable? 

We make bar exam predictions every single administration (both subject- and topic-based). We used to think we’d have more luck with July predictions, on the theory that the bar examiners would not want to write a really wacky exam when the vast majority of test takers take the exam in July. However, we have found that our accuracy ebbs and flows — and it has nothing to do with administration!

We also find that the exams vary in level of difficulty, and again, it has nothing to do with administration.  Thus, one exam is just as predictable (or unpredictable) as the other so this factor does not make one easier than the other.

Is a February or July Uniform Bar Exam more likely to be tailored to your strengths?

There are some “trends” that we have noticed in February exam administrations versus July exam administration. For example, on the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), the MEE-specific subjects tend to be tested in February and MBE-specific subjects tend to be tested on the MEE in July. Constitutional Law tends to be tested more in February and Corporations tends to be tested more in July. (You can see other differences here.) However, this is not a reason to take the Uniform Bar Exam in February or July. Indeed, the bar examiners can test whatever they want and whenever they want to test it! So, you should never “count” on something being tested (or not being tested) in a specific administration.

Thus, while it is nice to be aware of the February v. July Uniform Bar Exam trends, it is nothing you should count on and thus, these trends do not make one exam easier than the other.

Is the pass rate higher in February or July?

Across the board, the pass rates tend to be higher in July than in February. This is likely because more first-time takers take the exam in July. So just based on that, you may think that the July Uniform Bar Exam is easier than the February exam since a higher percentage of examinees pass the July bar.

However, this is not necessarily the case because you could also look at it a different way: In February, you are competing with more repeat takers rather than first-time takers. Thus, you won’t be compared with that student that graduated first in your class (because they likely passed the July bar exam). You will be competing with a pool of applicants that may be easier to compete with.  So even though the pass rate is lower, maybe your personal chances of passing the Uniform Bar Exam are higher.

What about your personal preference?

We have some students who simply like one exam more than the other. The February exam is smaller and they get less anxious. Or the July bar exam is bigger and they like to be lost in the crowd. For some students, the February exam is easier to study for because studying occurs in the winter when the weather may not be very nice. For others, it is easier to study for the July bar exam when the weather is nicer and a lot of the bigger holidays are out of the way.

When considering this, also consider your schedule. Perhaps your personal or work schedule tends to be less busy certain times of the year–thus making the February or July bar exam easier for you to pass. ‘

It is much more important to consider these personal factors than it is to consider the exam itself as these will play a bigger role in determining whether you will pass the bar exam.

The takeaway?

In the end, one exam is not necessarily “easier” than the other. Both exams are equally predictable (or unpredictable) and there are advantages and disadvantages to taking the exam in February and in July.

We recommend you focus on personal factors, (such as your schedule and mental state!) when determining which Uniform Bar Exam will be easier for you to pass, rather than focusing on the exam itself!

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