By Matthew Nash,
Legal Manager at BARBRI
REMEMBER, THE BAR EXAM IS ULTIMATELY PASS-FAIL.
Indeed, it’s perfectly acceptable to strive to land in the passing margin of the U.S. Bar Exam’s graded curve. There’s no need really to overwork yourself into oblivion to achieve a top percentile ranking. If you can (and want to), that’s commendable – yet not necessary. You see, when U.S. Bar Exam results come out, you’ll either have passed or failed.
That’s precisely what you need to realize and remember during the bar prep process: the U.S. Bar Exam is ultimately a pass-fail test. Approaching it as such will make your study time that much more efficient and productive. It will help mitigate stress, too.
Yes, perfection does sound like a worthy endeavor. You’re likely accustomed to scoring high marks on exams. But, in the case of the U.S. Bar Exam, perfection is not truly the end goal you want to target. You want to be extremely prepared, of course; however, the idea of perfection may lead you to place too great an emphasis on one individual area of the law. It may seem somewhat counterintuitive but you want to learn to be average across the vast number of areas of the law that will be covered on the exam. You’ll still be in good shape to pass the bar exam.
What does it mean to be “average” exactly? Not to put too fine a point on it, you’ll want to aim for about 65 percent correct on practice questions, over time. That should position you confidently in the passing margin. For example, if you work 25 practice questions, look to answer 16 or 17 correctly. You will have missed 8 or 9 questions – but that 65 percent correct is going to be enough to score the points you need to pass. Don’t expect to get there right way, it will take time to get there – particularly on subjects that may be completely unfamiliar to you when you start your U.S. Bar Exam studies.
The massive volume of U.S. Bar Exam material you’ll encounter during your preparation requires manageable and realistic expectations. All you need to do is make it on the pass list. Learning to be average – achieving that 65 percent or better, patting yourself on the back and making progress every day (without burning yourself out) – will get you there.