Looking for actual official MBE Questions? Try our newly updated MBE Qbank for free here!

if you fail the bar exam

What If You Fail The Bar Exam? How To Make Your Plan B

Many people ask us “What if I fail the bar exam? What will I do?” They feel a lot of anxiety even asking the question and have no idea what route to go if they fail the bar exam. In this post we discuss why you should have a “Plan B” for if you fail the bar exam, and how to make that Plan B.

What If You Fail The Bar Exam? Why – and How –  to Make a Plan B

Why You Should Make A Plan B For If You Fail The Bar Exam:

A “Plan B” for if you fail the bar exam is great for a few reasons:

First, there is a possibility that you may fail. A decent chunk of people fail the bar exam every administration. Confronting this possibility rather than denying it outright is wise even if statistically speaking (based on your GPA, LSAT score, work you put in during bar prep, etc.) you are likely to pass.

Second, it will relieve your anxiety. Rather than having absolutely no idea what to do if you fail, you will have a plan. Then, failure will not seem like the worst thing in the world that could happen to you because you will know the steps you will take if you fail.

Truth be told many people who fail the bar exam say that when all was said and done, failing the bar exam was not as bad as they thought and even had some benefits. While this may seem far off from how you feel about the prospects of failing right now, others who felt the exact same way as you right now end up seeing positive things come from the experience. Having a plan in mind can help you keep this in perspective.

How To Make Your Plan B:

1. First, figure out how you will check bar exam results.

Some states send letters informing applicants of whether they passed or failed. Some publish names online. Others post by seat number. Figure out how your state will notify you of results. Then answer these questions:

  • Will you check results immediately or will you wait until later? For example, do you want to check results at work or wait until after work? Do you want to check them on a weekday or weekend?
  • Do you want to check results with someone else there (a supportive relative or friend) or do you want to do it by yourself?
  • Where do you want to be when you check results? Is there a way to arrange this ahead of time (for example, if you know your state will publish names at a certain time, is it possible to take that time off work?)

Think about the worst-case scenario (that is, that you failed the bar exam) and think about how you would want to find out this news and where you would want to be. You may decide against checking results at work. Or you may decide against telling everyone your seat number!

2. If you fail the bar exam, the next thing you have to do is figure out how you will tell your boss (if you work) or anyone else who needs to know.

Contrary to what many students believe, not everyone will know that you failed the bar exam. Even if your state publicly posts a list of those who passed the bar exam, most students care too much about whether they passed to notice every missing name on the list. So don’t get too paranoid that everyone will know you failed!

You may have to tell some people you failed the bar exam—for example, your boss, if you work. If that is the case, check out this post on how to tell your boss you failed the bar exam. Just because you failed the bar exam does not mean you will be fired! In our experience, most people are not fired. This includes associates at big law firms (they are almost always given a second chance) and small firms.

Of course, there are exceptions. Some firms will make a job contingent on passing the bar exam (and usually this is stated directly in your offer letter).

Hopefully, your boss has talked to you about what will happen if you fail the bar exam. If he or she has not, and if this causes you anxiety, ask your boss or the appropriate person at your work what happens if you fail the bar exam.

3. Figure out how you’re going to pass this exam next!

I admit, this is much easier to do once you have a score report in front of you! But read this post on what to do if you fail the bar exam and how to change how you study. It is actually easier to study for the bar exam if you have already taken it.  You have the foundation of the law. And you have the experience of taking the exam. These things will put you at a distinct advantage.

Also, studying for the bar exam after taking it once can be somewhat more of a pleasant experience (though “pleasant” may not be the word you first think of). For example, you do not have to rewatch all of your bar review lectures. (That is the most torturous part of bar prep for most students! And it is not a good idea to rewatch every single lecture.) And, as mentioned above, you are not starting from zero. You likely learned a lot studying for the bar exam before so studying again will entail building on that foundation.

If you work, you will also want to ask yourself if you will take time off work. It is ideal to take time off work. However, it is also possible to still study and pass the bar exam a second time when working. Please read these 12 tips for working and studying for the bar exam if you are considering doing both at once!

4. Consider reserving a spot for one of our services if you want to perfect your Plan B.

A lot of our spots fill up very quickly as we offer small-group, high-quality courses, seminars, and private tutoring sessions. If you want to reserve a spot in one of our courses, seminars, or for private tutoring if you fail, please contact us now! You are under no obligation to use the spot you “reserve” for yourself (whether you pass or not). However, you can get on the reservation list or wait list before you even find out results and we will give you priority in the worst-case scenario. You can read about our bar exam services here.

This administration (February 2019) we have heard from many of our students who received scores in the 300’s on the UBE after failing the bar exam in the past! (They have raised their scores 40-50 points and raised their MBE scores over 20 points!) Check out our UBE course if you are interested in taking the approach they did to boost their scores so much!

What if I pass the bar exam?

While some may roll their eyes at this question, it is a good one! Some students actually dread passing the bar exam more than they dread failing it. Passing the bar exam means that they have to officially transition from student to professional. And this can be a source of anxiety! For this reason, we also recommend you make a “Plan A” for if you pass the bar exam. Your “Plan A” may consist of:

  • polishing up your LinkedIn profile and resume,
  • applying for jobs that interest you,
  • reaching out to connections that may be helpful

We hope that now when you answer the question “What if I fail the bar exam?” you do not feel a vague sense of anxiety. And instead, you can think of your plan B.