There are two bar exams given annually. The first exam is given shortly after everyone graduates from law school (in July). More than 2/3s of these test takers will pass the exam and go their merry ways – to jobs (both real and pretend), LLM studies, or on the hunt for a job. The remainder of the students – those who didn’t pass – will study and retake the test a second time in February. They will usually take the two day test in the company of the Juris Doctorates that don’t speak English as a first language. The pass rate for this group of testers would be predicted to be lower than the first group because these are the people who did not make the grade the first time around - and people who may struggle a bit with the language in which they are being tested.
It’s like everyone is trying to scare you to death. Don’t let them do it - you have enough to worry about already. When you hear facts such as this one, look a little deeper into the topic and find out what is truth. Yes, the bar exam in New York is a beast but more test takers pass it than fail, on the whole. The overall 2012 pass rate for New York was almost 86% and New York isn’t even in the top ten states where it’s hardest to pass the bar exam. If you are one of the test takers who didn’t pass the New York bar exam, consider perhaps prepping yourself and taking the test in another state (perhaps a state with one of the highest pass rates) to get your career off the ground. Living and working in New York isn’t for everyone anyway.