Why's the Bar a notoriously difficult exam?

I think there are some reasons that have nothing to do with the examination itself. The Bar Examination has a reputation for being difficult, because the people who take the test tell others it is difficult. When there is a yearly drumbeat of people telling you about their Bar Exam struggle, and you assume that those people are intelligent, you tend to believe their complaints are legitimate. There are other difficult tests out there — e.g., medical board exams and the CPA test. But the public is not nearly as enamored with accountants as it is with lawyers. Hence, when accountants talk about the difficulty of the CPA examination, no one pays attention.As for the test itself, I think it is difficult for many reasons. One is that the test taker is being tested on broad range of laws in a closed-book environment. And the test taker believes that his or her future is based on the outcome of the test. That belief tends to cause an increase in anxiety. That increased anxiety leads the test taker to study even longer and sleep even less. The lack of sleep and the forced retention of information can make the examination experience even more stressful.

I suppose it is also possible that the Bar Exam is “notoriously difficult” because the people who administer the exam have made it difficult in an attempt to limit the number of people who actually become lawyers. (Read more: Damon Moore (2019). Why is the bar exam so notoriously difficult? https://www.quora.com/Why-is-the-bar-exam-so-notoriously-difficult. Last accessed September 06, 2021 at 8:19PM.)

Bar exams— the exams for admission to the practice of law— are difficult for two reasons. First, a lawyer cannot practice law without passing the bar exam, so it acts as a gateway to limit the number of lawyers entering the profession in any given year. Second, the legal profession wants to be sure that only competent persons enter the profession. So, the bar exam asks questions that are difficult not only in the knowledge required to answer correctly, but also difficult in terms of the analytical skill necessary to apply the knowledge. In that way, the profession can have some assurance that anyone admitted to practice has the necessary training in knowledge and skill to be competent. The bar exam is a gateway, and the gatekeepers want to let through only the most able. (Read more: Bill Blais, JD (2019). https://www.quora.com/profile/Bill-Blais-5)

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