Monday, October 30, 2023

July 2023 Bar Exam Recap

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On July 25 and 26, 2023 I took the Universal Bar Exam (UBE). On October 19, 2023, I received the results that I passed!

I am proud to announce that I have passed the New York State July 2023 bar exam with a score high enough to practice in any UBE jurisdiction. 


Breakdown of the exam:

Day 1: Six hours of essays. We had two MPTs or skilled based writing assignments and then a lunch break and then six short essays (MEE).

Day 2: Six hours of 200 multiple choice questions (MBE): 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon.



Before I graduated from law school in May, I started studying for the bar exam.

I studied for 10 weeks. I worked about 12-15 hours a day, with minimal time off on the weekends. I used Barbri as my bar prep provider. I liked them, but as with all commercial based test providers, one size doesn’t fit all. Barbri recommended that you treat studying like a full-time job, however, I studied and worked way more than 40 hours a week. Barbri also tells you to trust the process and their method, but it’s really hard to trust it. Some days I would, and some days I wouldn’t.

I had other friends that used Themis, who also passed.

Including Barbri, I also used flashcards and UBE multiple choice questions from past tests from AdaptiBar. Not all of Barbri’s questions were from past exams, most of them were made up by the bar prep provider. I also used Smart Bar Prep and JD Advising for summaries of the essay topics.

Through our school we also had a weekly essay writing course to continue to practice our writing.

It was a cruel summer, but I am thrilled it all paid off.


The bar exam was a true marathon. It’s an insanely long test with a lot of sitting and waiting in your seat before the test even begins. I’ve never ran a marathon before and younger Elizabeth wanted to, but after taking the exam, (and for the obvious fact that I don’t like to run) I think I’m good.

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It was a rollercoaster of emotions over 10 weeks. Some days I felt on top of the world and I felt like I was learning a lot and then other days I felt like an idiot and I couldn’t retain any information.

I cried a lot. Some days I jumped and danced for joy. Other days I was angry at the test for being difficult. Other days I was annoyed that I felt like law school hadn’t prepared me for the test at all. 

I tried to take one day at a time. It was really hard to only think this way, but it was the best way for me so I wouldn’t get too overwhelmed with how much I still had to study.



I lost a lot of hair. I couldn’t sleep. I had serious neck and shoulder pain throughout studying as that is where I carry my stress. I was so hunched over during the two days of sitting in an uncomfortable chair that I had to get a back massage. I highly recommend a heated shoulder/neck pad!

I worked out every day while studying and it really helped my mental health and it was the only thing that I looked forward to every morning at 7 am when I was at my desk grinding. I’ve always used exercise as an escape and a stress reliever but I never realized how much I really needed it until this summer.

As Peloton instructor, Ally Love taught me: “you can do tough things.”



Anxiety was the highest it has ever been. I felt so much pressure and anxiety about knowing all this information that I needed to know to pass. It was a long ten weeks. Right at the end, I felt really burnt out. I couldn’t retain any more information.

Barbri recommended that we do at least 80% of the scheduled course over our weeks of studying. I was determined to finish the course, and I did. In the beginning of my studies, I took Saturdays off and then spent the rest of the week chained to my desk. The last weekend of June was my last Saturday off until the last weekend in July, after the exam. 

Towards the end of my studying I was overthinking every multiple choice question. I learned that I knew the right answer in my gut, so I shouldn’t overthink and rather find the one issue in the question and match that issue to the answer. In each question, there is only ever one issue they are testing you per question. Unfortunately, in law school we learned to think and dissect every question. On this exam I had to remember to not analyze the question, just read it and answer it for what it is. I had to practice not talking myself out of the answer choice.

My school was semi supportive during the studying process. 

I had to remind myself that I knew what I had to do to pass. And that I knew how to take a test and how to study. I really had to block out the comparison game and suggestions from people about what you “should do” especially from my school, as the professor who taught the writing course, didn’t know me personally, and selfishly, they want people to pass so the school’s ranking/scores will go up.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up my self-care routine just for the test.



Half way through studying, Barbri gave us a 200 multiple choice midterm (or 50% of the real exam). Unfortunately for me, I failed the test, and it felt like the end of the world. Based on Barbri’s statistics, I shouldn’t have passed the bar exam, because I failed this stupid midterm. I’m glad I proved the statistics wrong. Lucky for me, with the help of a really good friend I figured out what was going wrong. When you use a bar prep provider, they try to make one size fit all, and unfortunately, not all students fit into the mold that they want you to. I had to realize that studying for the bar exam was just like studying for any other law school exam, just a much bigger one. I shouldn’t have changed my studying methods just for this exam. All of law school I studied by outlining my notes and memorizing them. Barbri didn’t stress memorization. They only stressed absorbing the information. Well clearly that wasn’t working for me, so I realized half way through that I needed to actually sit down and memorize everything that I was learning. And clearly that worked for me. As my friend said, “if it worked for you then, it will work for you now, why change?”


Support system:

I feel so thankful for my support system. 

Thank you for everyone that helped me. My family, friends, boyfriend, mentors and everyone else who prayed for me, texted me, and messaged me. I felt the love, support and the prayers.

Thank you to my mentor, who sent me encouraging words, flowers, and messages every week as I struggled through everything.

To my family, boyfriend and non-legal friends who didn’t really understand what I was going through but tried to understand the amount of pressure I was in, thank you. 

Honestly, my friends from law school were the only ones who really understood what I was going through because we were all going through it together. Having friends with the same work ethic as you is so important, in any aspect of life, but especially while studying for the bar. During the summer my friends and I would text each other and ask when we were finishing for the day and when we were taking breaks so we could stay accountable for taking breaks. I know it sounds silly, but the amount of guilt I felt for taking time off, even just to see my friends one night, felt horrible, because I felt like I should’ve been studying. So having friends that were able to keep me in check with these things was really helpful. 



The reality is all I had to do was pass. NY requires a 266 for passing, which is equivalent to a D. While studying, it seemed like that was close to impossible, but clearly I did it! 

Quite frankly, this test felt like the hardest thing I’ve ever done: mentally, physically, and emotionally. To be honest, this test was traumatizing. 


While I was waiting almost four months for the results, I expected the worst and hoped for the best. I also told myself that regardless of what happens, I’m was proud of myself for studying and working so hard and for taking the test. It was no easy feat and if I did have to take it again, I would now know what to expect.



To my peers that did not pass, I am so sorry. It is an extremely tough exam mentally, physically, emotionally. I believe in you! You graduated law school, so if you did that, you can pass this test! I promise! 

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