Bar Exam Success Stories

People from all walks of life take the bar exam. Many have passed the bar exam before you. You’re not alone.

For your inspiration, I’d like to share a few of my readers’ stories and regimen that led to their bar exam success. Following the paths uncovered by your predecessors means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Extract what you like and leave the rest.

You can be part of the passing group if you put in the work, invest in yourself, and work intelligently, even if you think…

  • you’re not “a naturally good test taker” or
  • you’re not “the type of person who’ll be a good lawyer” or
  • you “don’t deserve to pass” (see Steph’s jaw-opening story at the end).

Sure, there are some “natural geniuses” out there, but most of us aren’t. The rest of us have and will continue to pass.

This is a learnable skill. No one is born to take the bar, nor is it a life skill you needed to have cultivated since you were a child. If you can graduate law school, you can pass the bar.

Here are just a few samples of what’s possible. There’s a lot more in the private MTYLT Facebook community. Click the screenshots to enlarge some of these landslide comebacks in a new window:

Scroll to see unconventional stories from…

  • Maureen: 63 years old, slow typer, no big-box prep course. She passed the 2018 February California Bar Exam on her second try (27.3% pass rate).
  • Siarra: Canadian applicant who passed the 2021 February California Bar Exam on her second try after believing that she could pass without a traditional commercial program.
  • Akshay: Realized his childhood dream by passing the 2020 February California Bar Exam on his second try (26.8% pass rate).
  • “Kevin”: Took the California Attorneys’ Exam three times unsuccessfully, until he stopped writing like a lawyer and started writing like a bar taker.
  • Anonymous: A foreign-trained LLM who took the New York Bar Exam five times after persevering and steadily increasing her scores until she passed.
  • Plato: A non-native English speaker passed the 2019 February California Bar Exam bar on his first try without using a big-box prep course (31.4% pass rate).
  • Valerio: Foreign attorney with LLM who passed the 2018 July California Bar Exam, the exam with the lowest recorded pass rate for July (40.7%).
  • Rana: “Not everyone is at the top of the class . . . I had to step away from what I was ‘supposed’ to do, to what I actually NEEDED.” Passed the 2018 February California Bar Exam, 27.3% pass rate.
  • Ashleigh: A repeater of the California Bar Exam who passed the 2019 July exam by playing to her own strengths. One trick she used was to do the Performance Test first in the afternoon portion of the written day.
  • Naoki: Member of the Japanese bar (3% passage rate). Non-native speaker. Never went to an American law school. Worked full time. Passed the 2017 July California Bar Exam.
  • Marlow: Studied while working 40+ hours a week. He “doesn’t do well on standardized tests,” and it had been years since graduating law school… and he passed the UBE with flying colors.
  • “A”: Repeater who passed the 2017 February California Bar Exam (34.5% pass rate) while working full time.
  • Karrie: Mother of four children, learned the law all over again three years after graduating from an unaccredited school. Improved by 130 points to pass the California Bar Exam on her second attempt by studying smart, not just hard.
  • Camille: Second-time passer of the California Bar Exam. She used different strategies over the course of a year, such as getting study buddies who were committed to her success and using modern tools to create much-needed alone time.
  • Barry: Third timer, a foreign lawyer from Ireland. Focused on the MBE, his weak area, to pass the Texas Bar Exam.
  • Kathleen: 49-year-old mother with English as her second language. Tried various resources and techniques and implemented what worked for her on the California Bar Exam.
  • Jennifer: Cut through the fear and closed a 150-point deficit as a “threepeater” of the California Bar Exam.
  • Steph: Was in prison for 32 years, had to learn how to use a smartphone and the Internet, and closed a 150-point gap to pass the California Bar Exam as a second timer.

 

MAUREEN: A nontraditional student—63 years old, slow typer, no big-box prep course. She passed the California Bar Exam on her second try (2018 February CA bar, 27.3% pass rate).

Click to read how she did it (opens in a new tab):

How Maureen passed the California bar exam on her second try as a nontraditional student

 

SIARRA: Foreign (Canadian) applicant who passed the 2021 February California Bar Exam on her second try after believing that she could pass without a traditional commercial program.

Click to read how she did it (opens in a new tab):

I love this writeup for a few reasons. It’s very specific and organized, like a lawyer should be! There are plenty of takeaways:
  1. Have self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. This is very important and will put you ahead of the curve if you want to take a more conscious approach instead of doing the default.
  2. Know your WHY. I love that you emphasized actually spending time, putting on a straitjacket for just 10 minutes to reflect. Starting is the hardest part. But if you have a guiding reason, you won’t “lose motivation.”
  3. Your mindset (positivity) is your own. (This is a general theme in this writeup.) You can change your mind. How you think is how you do because it’s our heart that drives us.
  4. Read my emails 🙂 The majority of successful bar takers I’ve seen are doing their own research, working behind the scenes, and quietly moving on with their life.
  5. Use a short list of resources and tools you trust that fit your style, not a collect-a-thon of 100 documents that overwhelm you and get buried somewhere.
  6. Do and use what works for you. There’s a lot of advice out there. Like putting on hats, if it doesn’t look good on you, try on another hat. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You are the dean of your own studies, not Barbri, not anyone else. You don’t NEED anything… Anything can work. Instead of worrying about what the best resource is, worry about how to be the best student.

 

AKSHAY: Realized his childhood dream by passing the 2020 February California Bar Exam on his second try (26.8% pass rate).

"I took the CA bar for the second time and PASSED. I have wanted to be a lawyer since the age of 12 and today I become one. I cannot believe I did it. It feels too surreal and the emotions I have are difficult to explain but to say that I am so happy. You helped me get there - your resources, your emails, and your messages."

 

“KEVIN”: Took the California Attorneys’ Exam three times unsuccessfully, until he stopped writing like a lawyer and started writing like a bar taker. Big takeaway points:

In sum, forget everything you learned in law school or work, and start fresh. The only experience that counts here is what you’ve learned from bar preparation.

 

ANONYMOUS: A foreign-trained LLM who took the New York Bar Exam five times after persevering and steadily increasing her scores until she passed. She realized that points can come from the most unexpected places.

 

PLATO: A non-native English speaker passed the 2019 February California Bar Exam bar on his first try without using a big-box prep course (31.4% pass rate).

Passing the 2019 Feb CA bar as a non-native speaker

 

VALERIO: Foreign attorney with LLM who passed the 2018 July California Bar Exam, the exam with the lowest recorded pass rate for July (40.7%).

Valerio passed the CA bar

Valerio passed the CA bar

 

RANA: “Not everyone is at the top of the class . . . I had to step away from what I was ‘supposed’ to do, to what I actually NEEDED.” Passed the 2018 February California Bar Exam, 27.3% pass rate.

"I had to step away from what I was “supposed” to do, to what I actually NEEDED. I didn’t need 16 hours. I needed quality time of studying. Whether that was 8 or 16, you made me feel like it was OK to do that and I didn’t have to be guilty about it. These commercial programs make you focus on getting so much done during the day but you also taught me it’s okay to step away from it and do what was best for me. What was best for me? Second time around, I pulled away from the school bar prep program, I pulled away from the commercial programs and did ME. I went through subjects, day by day, i did adaptibar religiously, and when something didn’t make sense....I went back to it even though I was “supposed” to be on a different subject."

 

ASHLEIGH: A repeater of the California Bar Exam who passed the 2019 July exam by playing to her own strengths. One trick she used was to do the Performance Test first in the afternoon portion of the written day.

 

NAOKI: Member of the Japanese bar (3% passage rate). Non-native speaker. Never went to an American law school. Worked full time. Passed the 2017 July California Bar Exam.

Naoki, a foreign lawyer who never went to an American law school, finally passed the CA bar

 

MARLOW: Studied while working 40+ hours a week. He “doesn’t do well on standardized tests,” and it had been years since graduating law school… and he passed the UBE with flying colors.

passed the UBE with flying colors

 

Get your $30 AdaptiBar discount code (or 25% UWorld discount link) by signing up here. You’ll also get my famous weekly emails that helped everyone featured on this page.

“A”: Repeater who passed the 2017 February California Bar Exam (34.5% pass rate) while working full time.

 

KARRIE: Mother of four children, learned the law all over again three years after graduating from an unaccredited school. Improved by 130 points to pass the California Bar Exam on her second attempt by studying smart, not just hard.

Mother of four children who scored 1311 on her first attempt at the California Bar Exam. Improved by 130 points to pass on her second time by studying smarter.

Mother of four children who scored 1311 on her first attempt at the California Bar Exam. Improved by 130 points to pass on her second time by studying smarter.

 

CAMILLE: Second-time passer of the California Bar Exam. She used different strategies over the course of a year, such as getting study buddies who were committed to her success and using modern tools to create much-needed alone time.

"Thank you so much for all your support and weekly emails! I passed this second time around and it feels so good. Your emails helped me get through each week, just knowing that there was someone rooting for me who actually understood the whole process. THANK YOU for all your thoughtful work!"

 

BARRY: Third timer, a foreign lawyer from Ireland. Focused on the MBE, his weak area, to pass the Texas Bar Exam.

Third timer, Irish barrister, out-of-country student. Focused on the MBE, his weak area, to pass.Third timer, Irish barrister, out-of-country student. Focused on the MBE, his weak area, to pass.

 

KATHLEEN: 49-year-old mother with English as her second language. Tried various resources and techniques and implemented what worked for her on the California Bar Exam.

49-year-old mother with English as her second language. Tried various resources and techniques and implemented what worked for her. 49-year-old mother with English as her second language. Tried various resources and techniques and implemented what worked for her.

 

JENNIFER: Cut through the fear and closed a 150-point deficit as a “threepeater” of the California Bar Exam.

Cut through the fear and closed a 150-point deficit as a

 

STEPH: Was in prison for 32 years, had to learn how to use a smartphone and the Internet, and closed a 150-point gap to pass the California Bar Exam as a second timer. You have no excuse.

Passed the California bar exam after being in prison for 32 years

Steph story 2

 

Want to join their ranks?

It’s not all doom and gloom. This isn’t unrealistic. It’s easy to let pass rates take the blame, but plenty of people do pass.

And you can be one of them—if you make it a priority.

Don’t shy away from success.

“If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it.”—Scott Adams

I’m offering these tools so that you can become another success story instead of another statistic:

One Reply to “Bar Exam Success Stories”

  1. In turn, when it came time for bar prep, I had an idea of where I struggled and where I excelled.

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