Last Minute Bar Exam Dos and Don’ts

Published: Jul 20, 2012

 Job Search       Law       

The bar exam (in many states) is next week, and if you’re signed up, you’re probably a bit stressed out by now. Here are some important Dos and Don’ts for the last few days leading up to the exam.

Do: Spend this weekend reviewing your outlines.
Don’t: Overdo it at the last minute.

As you’ve probably heard your test prep instructors say, bar study is a marathon, not a sprint. Do not try to tackle completely new subjects this weekend in an attempt to make up for missed study days. Instead, spend each day reviewing your notes and outlines and answering sample questions. Make sure to eat well, drink lots of water, and get enough sleep—being sick on the day of the exam is not helpful.

Do: Plan out your day-of-exam route and schedule.
Don’t: Make any drastic changes from your normal routine.

If you’re taking the exam out of town, be sure you know exactly how to get to the testing site, including whether you’ll need cash for a cab or what time the hotel shuttle leaves. Also, figure out where you’ll get breakfast the morning of the test. However, now is not the time to try out anything new. If you’ve never had a 5-Hour Energy Drink, the morning of the bar exam is not the time to see how it affects you. Stick to your everyday routine.

Do: Arrive to the exam with plenty of time to spare.
Don’t: Bring your study materials with you to the testing facility.

Make sure you arrive on time (i.e., early) so that you aren’t rushed checking in and settling into your seat. The night before the exam, lay out everything you will need on the day of the test: pencils and pens, scrap paper if allowed, laptop, snacks and ID. However, do not bring any notes or other materials to the exam. Besides the fact that notes are not allowed in the testing room, trying to cram for the exam at the last minute will only add to your stress level. If you must, take a final glance over your outline over breakfast.

Do: Use the break to have a healthy lunch.
Don’t: Meet up with your friends and discuss how you answered the questions.

Hopefully you learned this in law school—comparing answers with your friends after a test leads to a) angry friends, b) major anxiety, or c) both. Spend your lunch break refueling for the rest of the day with a nutritious meal.

Do: Keep going, no matter how well you think you’re doing.
Don’t: Allow yourself to get discouraged.

The bar exam is an endurance test, and to make it through, it’s essential to stay positive. One of the key things to remember is that unlike law school, there’s no reward for doing well on the bar exam: you just have to pass. So even if you feel like you’re not doing great, keep pushing through—finishing the test will improve your chances of passing.

Do: Reward yourself by doing something fun.
Don’t: Obsess over the exam results.

When the test is finally over, you’ll usually have to wait more than three months before you receive the results. Don’t make those months miserable. If you haven’t planned a bar trip, do something fun to reward yourself for all of your hard work—plan a weekend with a friend or significant other, treat yourself to something nice, and give yourself permission to fully relax. You’ve earned it!

Best of luck!

--Rachel Marx, Law Editor