Bar Exam Risk Factors — and Solutions

If you plan to take a bar exam in the coming year, including this summer, you should take some time now to assess yourself and what risk factors you may have that could put you at risk of not passing the bar on your first try. That sounds scary, but 1) there are many ways to address those risk factors, many students have done that successfully to beat the odds; and 2) you have plenty of time between now and the summer to address any risk factors if you start now.

The book I recommend that all students read, ideally starting in the summer after their 2L year, is “Pass the Bar!” by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz. Here is a chart for self-assessment based on their list of risk factors and solutions:


Take a few minutes to read it over and ask yourself if any apply to you — they DO apply even to Emory Law students — then keep reading to find out how to neutralize them! Look for and attend our ongoing programs this semester that will help you ease into bar readiness. And feel free to visit with Dean Brokaw or Jennie Geada Fernandez to discuss how you can optimize your chances of success, starting with the MBE diagnostic exams and workshops we will hold starting this Saturday. If you are a graduating student, check your email or On The Docket for info and a registration link. The bar exam is not an aptitude test; it is an ATTITUDE test — you achieve success based on the effort you invest. Sweat equity. And that’s good news, because success is within reach of you all if you make the right choices. We’re here to help.

Happy New Year! Bar Readiness in 2018

Welcome back, Emory Law — except for this week’s snow days. As long as you don’t have school today or tomorrow, now is a great time to plan how you will use this semester to get ready for this summer’s bar exam and getting the most out of your commercial bar review course.

First, financial matters. Many students take out a “bar loan”, so they can focus on bar review after graduation and not work. For more information about this, go here. Bar loans are direct loans from a private lender to a student and are not part of the regular student loan process. However, if you have any unused eligibility for federal student loans left this semester, you may want to ask your assigned campus financial aid adviser whether it is possible for you to increase your loan.

Next, test readiness. On January 27 and on February 3, we will offer an MBE diagnostic exam and workshop to all graduating JD students. These will be provided by commercial bar review vendors, at no cost to you. Watch your email for more details and a wufoo form for registration. They will start at 9, with a morning diagnostic MBE exam of 100 questions, short lunch break (lunch will be provided for those who register), and an afternoon workshop to go over correct answers and the strategies to use to answer MBE questions correctly. We strongly advise all students to take advantage of this, as it will allow you to assess how much you do or don’t recall in the seven subject areas covered by the MBE, most of which you took in your first year. This will in turn allow you to start reviewing fundamental concepts in the subjects where you may be weaker, so you are better prepared to make the most of your post-graduation commercial course. It will also allow you to start making good use of practice MBE questions NOW and throughout this semester. We recommend doing as many as 2000 practice MBE questions between now and the real bar exam, as we know that results in a better chance of passing the bar first time. If you start in January or February, and spread out the work, it will be much easier to reach that target.

The book “Pass The Bar!” has another checklist that is relevant RIGHT NOW: 4-6 months before graduation and the start of your commercial bar prep course. If you own that book, take it out and re-read the checklists. If you don’t own it yet, consider buying it soon; it is easily available online.

Stay warm!