Law school is difficult; even more overwhelming can be the bar exam. It is intimidating enough that the test will take two days, but it is also often regarded as one of the most difficult of the professional licensing tests.

After years of study, it would seem like the bar exam would be more of a checkmark than a grueling event. Unfortunately for law students, the bar exam tends to require extensive and specific studying to pass; and many need to retake it.

Here’s what you should know about retaking the bar exam and how to do better next time.

Choosing a preparation method

California is known as having one of the most difficult bar exams in the country. Often, the pass rate for first-time takers is below 60 percent, and below 50 percent overall, so preparation is essential.

While you are in law school, it is essential to pay attention to your study habits so that you know what methods work for you. When you are choosing a bar preparation course, this will be vital information.

Pay attention to pass guarantees. Many bar preparation courses will guarantee that you will pass the first time, or you can retake the course for free. In a state like California, where test-takers often need to take the test a second time, this could save you time and money.

When to retake

If you do not pass the bar exam the first time, you are in good company. Many attorneys take the bar a second (or third) time and then go on to great careers practicing law.

The bar exam is only offered twice per year, but it is important to consider how you will proceed if you do not pass the first time. If you receive notification that you did not pass, consider both your current job situation and what you can do to prepare for your second try.

Many people who had to retake the bar exam agree that taking it the next time it is offered is wise. While you are waiting for the next opportunity, take the time to concentrate on the areas you struggled with and stay fresh in the areas where you were successful.

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