If you want to pass the bar exam on the first try, it helps to put in a least 40 hours per week of study in the month prior. Not working during bar prep also correlates to a greater likelihood of passing, while living in a large household correlates to lower pass rates. And bar examinees who are satisfied with their law school experience tend to pass at higher rates, while those struggling with debt and the stress of finding a job do worse.

Those are some of the key findings of a newly released study that looks at the factors that align with first- and second-time bar passage. The study, titled “Analyzing First-Time Bar Exam Passage on the UBE in New York States,” was commissioned by the New York State Board of Law Examiners and conducted by legal education-focused nonprofit AccessLex Institute. Researchers compiled more than 7,000 survey responses from people who took the New York bar exam between July 2016 and February 2018, and conducted four focus groups with first-time and repeat takers to better understand what helps—and hinders—examinees. (The data collection period ended before the COVID-19 pandemic and does not reflect the recent shift to online bar exams.) While the study focuses on New York examinees, the findings are relevant to all jurisdictions. New York administers the Uniform Bar Exam, as do 33 other states, and draws examinees from law schools across the country.

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