TAKING THE BAR EXAM

 

         This is going to be a short article, not because I am lazy today, but because there is little more involved in taking the Bar Exam other than being fully prepared for the test. See: Prepare for the Bar Exam Early and Pass the Bar Exam without Bar-Prep.

         There is nothing you can do on the day of the exam or even the day before which will help improve your score other than a light refresher on difficult subjects, a good nights sleep, and actually making it to your assigned seat in the morning. Thus, this article will focus on the very few things that can help you on the day of the exam.


THE DAYS BEFORE THE EXAM

 

Come Prepared

         From day one in law school you should be listening to your advisers who will be telling you how your state issues seats at the Bar Exam. My state required extensive forms to be filled out and a background check be completed, things which are much easier to complete if you give yourself three years to work on rather than the three months before your deadline

         Also pay close attention to what you need to bring for the exam itself. Do you need an ID? Get a second one, just in case. Do you have to bring an admission ticket? Make a copy, just in case. In fact, bring duplicates of everything so that you will not have to endure the nightmare of being in a strange town and trying to obtain a needed document in a rush.


Schedule An Early Arrival

        Don't arrive in the town of your state's Bar Exam on the day of or even the day before the exam. I suggest arriving two days early, which gives you time to settle in and get comfortable, as well as time to prepare yourself and your required forms for the next day.


Relax & Refresh

         I strongly suggest that you do not spend all of your free time studying in the days before the test. If you insist on studying, limit that studying to skimming condensed outlines and be sure to include frequent breaks. You do not want to be mentally exhausted the day of the exam.


Rest

         If I was a betting man, I would bet that 90% of exam takers get little sleep the night before. I myself tossed and turned despite having little weighing on my success the next day (I did not plan on practicing law even if I passed). If you cannot sleep, so be it, you will be in the same position as many of your peers taking the exam. Don't be foolish and try to force sleep with medication though, as any side-effects of grogginess the next day could be detrimental to your test taking abilities.


THE DAY OF THE EXAM

 

Keep A Positive Mindset

         This is the most important message that I can convey to anyone taking any exam: Do. Not. Freak. Out. Most people consider a "freak out" as an involuntary thing that cannot be controlled, but it can. First, make sure you are as prepared as you can be. Second, remember that every other person taking the exam is in the exact position that you are in; they are nervous, they are burnt out, and they are worried that they will fail. Keep this in mind, knowing that you are graded against each other and that you all are on equal footing.

         Another trick useful in keeping a positive mindset is to run through the statistics. For example: In my state, there was usually a 10% to 18% fail rate, which included the no-shows and the "freak outs" who walk out on the test either on the first or subsequent days. With these numbers, it should be clear that all you must do to pass the exam is to finish the test no matter what, and also do better than only 7% to 15% of your peers. That is not so hard to do now, is it? Even if your state has a high fail rate, you need only do better than 25% or so of your peers, which is still not hard to do for the average student.

 


Relax

        The morning of your exam go to your check-in point, find your seat, then sit down and relax. Look at the room you are sitting in, look at your desk, look at all of the nervous people around you and smile. You are all in the same boat, you are all likely to pass, and none of you will die if you don't happen to ace the exam.


Focus

        When it comes time to open your booklets and begin taking the exam, do exactly what you have done the last three years of law school, the same things which helped get you to this point. Ignore all of the distractions and focus solely on the words presented to you. After reading the first question, simply outline it, note potential issues, outline your answer, then deposit your answer on paper and move on to the next question. Easy stuff.

 

 

CONCLUSION


        There, that is it. As long as you have prepared as well as most of your classmates and refrain from freaking out (or at least walking out), you have an excellent chances of beating the Bar Exam and subsequently being sworn in as a lawyer. I will go ahead and say it prematurely. Congratulations!