How Many Times Can You Take The Bar Exam?

Even if you’re a star student, you might still feel nervous about taking the bar exam. If you fail, can you take it again? And if you can, how many times can you take the bar exam? Everyone wants to pass, but not everyone does so on the first try.

Luckily, most states allow people to take the bar exam as many times as they want. Even if you fail 100 times, you’re still able to sign up for another try. However, some states do have limits on how many times you can take the bar exam.

In this article, we’ll go over the states that allow unlimited bar exam attempts and the states that have limitations. If you’ve got a bad case of nerves before taking the bar, keep reading.

Hopefully, this article can help put your mind at ease and get you over the finish line, lawyer certification in hand.

What Are the Limitations States Have for the Bar Exam?

While the laws and regulations regarding the bar exam are similar in most states, many states have drastically different rules than others. 29 states allow unlimited attempts to pass the bar. The other 21 states have one of two types of limitations: discretionary and absolute.

A state with a discretionary limitation in place means that the state only allows a certain number of attempts but will give participants another chance under certain circumstances. Some states require extraordinary circumstances before they give you another try, while others are more lenient.

It all depends on the specific regulations within a given state.

States with absolute limitations permit participants a strict number of attempts. If you use all of your chances and still don’t pass, you won’t be able to take the bar again in that state. Most states with absolute limitations allow for two to six attempts before cutting you off from trying again.

Which States Allow Unlimited Bar Exam Attempts?

The following states and territories give you an unlimited number of attempts to pass the bar exam:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Palau

If you plan to take the bar exam in one of these states or territories, then you can rest a little bit easier knowing you can fail and still have a shot at being a lawyer. Many people can’t properly study for the bar without taking the official test first.

In this way, you can prepare for your “real” attempt after you get your initial one out of the way.

Which States Have Limited Bar Exam Attempts?

The following states and territories have discretionary or absolute limits on how many times you can take the bar exam:

Discretionary Limits

  • Arizona (3)
  • District of Columbia (4)
  • Idaho (6)
  • Iowa (2)
  • Maryland (3)
  • Montana (3)
  • South Carolina (3)
  • South Dakota (3)
  • Texas (5)
  • Utah (6)
  • Virginia (5)
  • West Virginia (4)
  • Wyoming (4)
  • Puerto Rico (6)
  • Virgin Islands (3)

All of the states above may give you another attempt past the limit but only under certain circumstances. You should research the specific requirements for further attempts in your state before heading in to take the exam.

Absolute Limitations

  • Kansas (4)
  • Kentucky (5)
  • New Hampshire (4)
  • North Dakota (6)
  • Rhode Island (5)
  • Vermont (4)

You won’t be allowed another attempt at the exam if you fail the maximum number of times in these states, no matter the circumstances.

Start Studying for the Bar Exam Today

Now that you have a better idea of how many times you’re allowed to take the bar exam, it’s time to start studying. If you’ve already taken the bar, you should focus on the areas of the exam where you fell short. Living in a state with unlimited bar exam attempts means you can go back and take it as many times as you need, so don’t worry too much about getting every single thing right.

However, if you live in a state with limited bar exam attempts, you need to make a comprehensive Bar exam study strategy that addresses your weak points. Otherwise, you may have to take the exam in a different state to become board certified. You may not want to practice law in another state, so study hard and don’t take the exam until you know you’re ready.

Good luck!

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Hannah Young

Contributor at ExamCave. Hannah is pursuing a degree in middle school English education at The Ohio State University. Hannah has worked as a writing and math tutor for elementary, middle school, and high school students.