Top 20 Bar Exam Day Tips

by Dustin on

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Your big day is here.  Here are some bar exam day tips to keep in mind.

1) Don’t discuss answers with others

We all know there is a temptation to eavesdrop and ask other people what they wrote for answers, but will this help you?  You can’t go back and change anything, and in my own experience, this is a lot more stressful than comforting.  And, it certainly doesn’t help me on the next portion of my exam!  So, resist the temptation, duck and cover if you hear others, and move forward with the exam and life.

2) Bring change of clothes

You might be living in a scorching hot city or be piling through two feet of snow to get through your test center door, but be sure to have a change of clothing, just in case.  My roommate took the bar in a 90 degree-city, but was seated right under an air conditioning unit for all three days of his bar exam, freezing his behind off!  Good thing he had a sweatshirt with him.

3) Ear plugs

The bar exam will have a lot more people in your room than your law school finals.  That means the noise level could be a lot louder.  Although, I never used ear plugs in law school, and I didn’t think the noise was that much greater in the bar exam auditorium, these might be good to have handy.  Your law school library should have them, and sometimes the bar exam room monitors will provide them.

4) Admission ticket, ID, etc.

Don’t forget your admission ticket, driver’s license, and other documentation you need to get in the room.  The night before, put your ticket in your wallet, purse, or somewhere you know you won’t forget it.  Although it might be a great story to share later, you don’t want to have to sneak into your own bar exam do you?

5) Where are you parking?

Ask or drive around and see where the best areas to park are.  You don’t want to be arriving late, and only find two hour street parking or $3 for every 15minute garage parking.  Plan this out ahead of time to reduce bar day stress.

6)  Bring laptop, charger, and mouse, not your bag.

If you’re walking from your car, remember not to bring your laptop bag.  It won’t be allowed in the room and you probably don’t want to leave it outside the room.  Some test centers will allow you put your belongings outside the room and have people watch it for you, but there’s certainly no guarantee for its safe keeping.  Also remember, no laptop on MBE day!

7) Backup pencils, pens, highlighters?

Have enough pencil, pens, highlighters and whatever else you’ll need to write with.  It’s rarely a problem that a pen runs out or a pencil breaks, but bring a couple extra just in case.  Pencils do tend to fade on MBE day.  The room monitors should have some extras as well in case of emergency.

8 ) Get a good night rest and watch a movie the night before

Get a good night rest.  I’m not really one to talk on this.  Because of my sleep schedule, I only got six hours of sleep each night before day 1 and day 2.  Watch a movie or do something light and fun the night before the bar.  If you’re having trouble sleeping, just keep telling yourself how tired you are and do some fake yawning.  It helped me.  If you’re a night owl, like myself, try going to sleep earlier a week or two before the bar exam, to adjust to an early sleeping routine.

9) Do a silent prayer

Either the night before or day of your exam, just be with yourself and your thoughts.  Feel appreciation and gratitude for having the opportunity to take the bar, complete your education, and get a license to join such a powerful and prestigious profession.  Ground yourself in the moment, and be at peace.  Thank your higher power for His blessings and ask him to be with you.  This can fill you with the feelings of having a higher purpose and meaning of being granted the right to help others in a significant way.

10) Have your lunch, water, and snacks ready and packed

If you’re taking your own food, have it all made, ready, and packed the night before.  It should be a simple grab and go the morning of.  If you plan on taking snacks, have them ready in a bag.  You can eat them in between test portions or before the exam starts.  Snack bags, without valuables, will probably be ok to leave outside the room, so long as room monitors will be there to watch your belongings.

11) Have a good breakfast the morning of

Know what you’re going to eat for breakfast and make sure you have all the ingredients.  I recommend a couple scrambled eggs, some wheat toast, spread with honey, a glass of orange juice, and a banana.  That would give plenty of energy to rock the morning portion of the exam!

12) Set 2 alarms and have friend call/txt you

Do what you need to make sure you’ll get up on time.  I set my alarm and told my friend to text me.  If I didn’t text her back, I advised her to keep calling me over and over until I did.  Fortunately, I didn’t need to go there.  This is not the time for hitting the snooze button.  You can do plenty of that after!

13) Dress Attire

Have an idea of what you’ll wear to the bar exam.  Some people like to dress up, even the full suit and tie, because they feel more professional and ‘in the zone’ when doing so.  In fact, this is actually required in the state of Virginia.  Some people dress down.  I wore the same thing I had worn while studying – a black hoodie and jeans.  Do what you feel most comfortable.  Also, if you’re going to go the suit route, don’t get self conscious if you show up and no one else has a suit on.  People are way too in their own heads to be judging what you’re wearing.

14) Do some light review, study if you need to after exam day

Should I review materials the evening of the first or second day?  Sure, why not.  I did, just to keep me in the zone.  It certainly was nothing heavy, but if you feel like doing a little bit, sure.  If you don’t feel it, don’t do it.  Go with your gut.  Just remember not to overdo it.

15) Have a good dinner

Time to call on your significant other to make you a nice dinner.  After all, the February takers will have their exam only a week after Valentine’s Day.  If you’re cooking yourself, make a nice, good, energizing meal.  Load up on fish, veggies, fruits, and water.

16) The past is the past, let it go. 

It’s in our human nature to look back at Day 1 and think, “Oh did I get this right?  Oh this person said that.  Oh, did I forgot about that issue.”  Forget about it.  It’s ok, really.  Worrying about it won’t help you.  You did what you did.  Just let it go and move on to tomorrow.

17) Exam soft, ready to go?

Make sure you have the bar version of Examsoft installed and tested on your computer.  Do a test run the evening before to make sure it’s all good to go.

18) Upload your exam answer

Even more important is uploading your exam answer.  Do so right when you get home or in the testing center each day.  You don’t need to upload until sometime after day 3 is over; however, (knock on wood), if something were to happen to your laptop after day 1 or day 2, having uploaded your answers immediately, would save the day.  You may have been procrastinating all bar exam prep long, don’t do it on this one!

19) Fingerprinting

On day 1 at some point, you’re probably going to be fingerprinted.  Our fingerprint pad had smudgy ink, so while they were reading directions for the PT, our room monitor was hustling to find a useable ink pad.  I smudged my fingerprint less than a minute before the PT started.  Yes, they do give you some disposable hand towels to wash your hands off.

20) Self timer

Some rooms won’t have a timing device, so it’s a good idea to have one just in case.  Sometimes, there are heavy regulations on the noise level and size of these.  A simple silent stop watch will usually be ok.

Hope these help.

[Updated: July 17, 2012 - By the way, some of the rules as to what is or is not allowed into the exam room, such as ear plugs, clothes, and highlighters, may vary depending on your jurisdiction.  Make sure you check the rules BEFORE you wake up bar exam morning!].

Best of luck bar exam day!

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July 2014 Bar Exam Takers

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frank July 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm

FYI, the NJ bar does not allow you to wear a hoodie!

Or a hat. Or a coat.


2 Dustin June 3, 2013 at 11:33 am

Ok, good to know!


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