Last Updated on August 4, 2022
Illinois has a bar exam and it is one of the difficult ones around. The bar exam is only offered four times per year and each time will attract over 1000 applicants. This means that you can take the test less than eight times annually. You should use this article to learn more about how to pass in this tough state and what you need in order to take it again in case you fail in your attempt at passing the Illinois Bar Exam.
Details about how many times can you take the bar exam in Texas, how many times can you take the bar exam in New York & how many times can you take the Bar exam in Michigan can be found here. Feel free to keep reading to receive the most updated information.
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How Many Times Can You Take the Bar Exam
Taking the bar exam and passing the first time with flying colors is a dream. But what happens if you don’t pass the first time around?
Each state has varying passing rates for the bar exam, ranging from about 45% in California to as high as 81% in Oklahoma. These values come down to many factors like population and available law schools in each state. With these passing rates in mind, it is certain that some will have to take the bar exam multiple times.
Understanding which states allow limited attempts at the bar exam is important. Being informed on the limits for your state or jurisdiction can dictate your studying strategy if you are on your last attempt.
Luckily, most states allow unlimited attempts to pass the bar exam. There are 21 states that limit bar exam attempts, that range from 2-6 attempts. Some of those states have discretionary limits that allow additional attempts outside of their limit with special permissions. But there are some states that have absolute limits that barr applicants from retaking the exam in that state. States with discretionary limits will vary. Some may require extraordinary circumstances to permit another examination, while some may be more lenient.
Please note that the information presented below is based off various resources like the NCBE Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements and a journal from the St. Johns Law Review. Be sure to double check the requirements for your jurisdiction. One way to do this is by contacting your state’s board of law or office of bar admissions.
How Many Times can you take the Bar Exam in California
States with No Limits on the Number of Times You Can Take the Bar Exam
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Northern Mariana Islands
States with discretionary limits on the Number of Times You Can Take the Bar Exam
- Arizona 
- District of Columbia 
- Idaho 
- Iowa 
- Maryland 
- Montana 
- South Carolina 
- South Dakota* 
- Texas 
- Utah 
- Virginia 
- West Virginia 
- Wyoming 
- Puerto Rico 
- Virgin Islands 
States with Absolute Limits on the Number of Times You Can Take the Bar Exam
- Kansas 
- Kentucky 
- New Hampshire 
- North Dakota 
- Rhode Island 
- Vermont 
Start Studying Today
Once you are aware of your jurisdiction’s limits on taking the bar exam, you should have a better idea of how much effort to put into your exam preparation. Good news for you, we have free MBE practice tests to help brush up your knowledge. Additionally, we have a premium program that guarantees you will pass.
Steps to become a Lawyer/Attorney in Illinois
Follow the step by step process or choose what situation that best describes you:
- Find an Illinois Undergraduate Pre-Law Education
- Take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test)
- Go to Law School in Illinois
- Take the Illinois State Bar Exam and become an Attorney
- Whats Next After Being Admitted to the Bar
Law Job Information in Illinois
The American Bar Association reports that in 2017 there were 62,782 licensed lawyers actively practicing in Illinois. The Bureau of Labor Statistics quotes the average Illinois lawyer’s salary at that time at $115,530 annually. Lawyers working in the Chicago metropolitan area made even more, averaging $122,970 per year.
The University of Chicago Law School had a teacher a few years back who is one of the most famous men in the world now. President Barack Obama, who received his law degree from Harvard Law School, taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School. Later, he became elected to the state’s senate, and the rest is history. While not all lawyers in Illinois go on to become President of the United States, if you work hard, anything is possible. If you would like to learn how to get your law degree and follow Obama’s example, read on.Step 1
Get Your Illinois Undergraduate Pre-Law Major
The Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar has ruled that all applicants to the Illinois Bar must have a preliminary pre-legal education consisting of at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate college credit. This credit must be obtained at a Board-approved college or university with admission requirements equivalent to those of the University of Illinois.
In order to be approved by the Board and by the American Bar Association (ABA), your undergraduate institution must be accredited by a national or regional accreditation organization acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education.
Requirements and Standards
Because the Board uses the admission requirements of the University of Illinois as a standard for admission to pre-legal education, you must have completed a minimum amount of certain courses in high school prior to enrollment in your undergraduate education. These include:
- English – 4 years
- Math – 3 years
- Social sciences – 2 years
- Laboratory sciences – 2 years
- One foreign language – 2 years
- Flexible academic units (i.e., electives ) – 2 years
Within the required 90 semester hours of undergraduate education the Board says you must complete should be coursework in the following areas:
- Cultural studies (Western and Non-Western)
- Humanities and the arts
- Composition and advanced composition
- Natural sciences courses
- Social and behavioral sciences
- Quantitative reasoning/mathematics courses
The Board requires that you complete 90 semester hours of undergraduate coursework – not that you necessarily obtain an undergraduate degree. Under Board rules, you may obtain a diploma, degree, or certificate signed by the dean or registrar of your institution stating that you have completed the required coursework. However, ABA-approved law schools (which the Board requires you graduate from) insist that you have at least a bachelor’s degree prior to admission. This degree may be in any major. Majors in the above-mentioned coursework areas are often the most advisable to pre-law students.
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Back to TopStep 2
LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in Illinois
The Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar requires that you graduate with your first professional law degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). All ABA-approved law schools insist that you pass the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, prior to admission. The test is offered four times yearly at testing centers around the world.
How to prepare
The LSAT website provides some great, free study materials that will help you study for the LSAT. If you want to take a formal LSAT preparation course, consider the following options in Illinois:
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in Illinois:
- Free Practice LSAT Test, Kaplan Testing Centers
- LSAT Intensive Review, Get Prepped!, Chicago
- LSAT Tutor, The LSAT Blogger, Chicago
- LSAT Preparation, Test Sherpa, online
Subjects tested on the LSAT are:
- Reading comprehension: Your ability to understand what you read is tested.
- Logical reasoning: Your ability to identify conclusions, hidden assumptions, and evaluate an argument’s strengths or weaknesses is tested.
- Analytical reasoning: You must solve problems and draw conclusions by using analytical strategies.
- Writing sample: This section is not scored as part of the LSAT, but is sent to the law schools to which you apply. You will be given a topic on which you must write an essay, supporting your position.
You must create an account online with the Law School Admission Council when you apply to take the LSAT. You will also pay the $190 examination fee online. The LSAT is offered twice a week in November, January and March, at these testing centers in Illinois:
- Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
- Eastern Illinois University, Charleston
- DePaul University, Chicago
- John Marshall Law School, Chicago
- Loyola University-Chicago, Chicago
- University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago
- Richland Community College, Decatur
- Northern Illinois University, DeKalb
- Northwestern University, Evanston
- College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn
- Western Illinois University, Macomb
- Western Illinois University – Quad Cities Campus, Moline
- Illinois State University, Normal
- Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills
- Bradley University, Peoria
- University of Illinois-Springfield, Springfield
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign
- College of Lake County Southlake Campus, Grayslake
Receiving Your Score
It takes about three weeks after the exam before your scores are mailed to you. The lowest score you can possibly receive is 120, and the highest score you can possibly receive is 180. Average LSAT scores accepted by some Illinois law schools in 2017 are:
- University of Chicago: 170
- Northwestern University: 168
- University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: 161
- Loyola University, Chicago: 158
- Chicago-Kent College of Law: 156
- DePaul University: 152
- Northern Illinois University: 148
- John Marshall Law School-Chicago: 147
- Southern Illinois University-Carbondale: 149
Go to an Illinois Law School
Featured Law School:
1. University of Dayton
Campus Locations: Online
Programs: Online Hybrid Juris Doctor: ABA-approved JD program
After receiving a passing score on the LSAT, it is time to apply to ABA-approved law schools. Under rules of the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar, you must graduate from an ABA-accredited law school in the United States (not necessarily within Illinois) in order to be eligible for bar membership.
Credential Assembly Service
ABA-approved law schools mandate that you use the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service when applying for admission. The CAS will ask you for a list of potential letter of recommendation (LOR) writers. Then you will indicate which letter you wish to have sent to which law schools you are applying. You will also obtain transcripts from your undergraduate institutions online through CAS, who will compile and distribute them to law schools.
Then you must complete the “Common Information Form” and you will be taken to the individual application for the law school(s) to which you wish to apply. You will answer the questions on the law school’s electronic application and upload any documents required (such as essays, letters, personal statements, etc.). The LSAC will charge you $195 for the CAS report and you will pay the school’s application fee.
The Illinois State Board of Law Examiners specifies that you must be a graduate of a United States ABA-accredited law school in order to take the state’s bar exam. The LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools lists ABA-approved law schools across the nation.
ABA-Accredited Law Schools in Illinois
The following law schools in Illinois are ABA-accredited:
- University of Chicago Law School, Chicago
- Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago
- DePaul University College of Law, Chicago
- University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign
- The John Marshall Law School, Chicago
- Loyola University Chicago College of Law, Chicago
- Northern Illinois University College of Law, DeKalb
- Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Chicago
- Southern Illinois University School of Law, Carbondale
Foundational legal coursework that usually does not vary from one law school to the next will include:
- Administrative law
- Civil law and procedure
- Criminal law and procedure
- Legal research
- Legal writing
- Real property
- Constitutional law
- History, goals and responsibilities of the legal profession
You must attend law school for at least two years, but no longer than seven years, to get your Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. The average number of credits you will complete in law school is 83 semester hours.