The bar exam is upon us. All the hard work and weeks of studying have brought you to this point, and we have some advice on how to make it through the week. The Bar Exam Toolbox experts have compiled some advice for the bar exam so you can excel on “game day.”
Before you read the tips, meet the individuals who are sharing advice with you.
Lee Burgess is the co-founder of Bar Exam Toolbox. She graduated cum laude from the University of San Francisco School of Law, was a TA for Contracts and Torts, and was the Managing Editor of the USF Law Review. Lee left her law firm job and became a private California bar exam tutor and law school tutor when she realized her passion for helping students pass the bar.
Alison Monahan is the co-founder of Bar Exam Toolbox. She graduated from Columbia Law School in 2006 as a Kent Scholar, a Stone Scholar, and a member of the Columbia Law Review. She was also a Civ Pro TA. After law school, Alison clerked for a federal District Court judge and worked as a patent litigator in a large law firm in San Francisco. She eventually left to start The Girl’s Guide to Law School®, which is a leading resource for individuals embarking on a legal career.
Ariel Salzer is a California bar exam tutor for Bar Exam Toolbox. She has taught everything from conjunctions to calculus on four different continents. As a student at the University of San Francisco School of Law, Ariel tutored Torts and led 1L workshops on time management, exam preparation, legal writing, and outlining. After practicing law as a product liability litigator in California for a number of years, Ariel found her way back to teaching and now enjoys helping students find success in their law school classes and on the bar exam.
Ben Nelson is a California and Oregon bar exam tutor for Bar Exam Toolbox. As the oldest child of two professors, he realized from an early age that he wanted to strike out on his own. He eventually settled on law school and graduated from Columbia in 2014 as a Kent Scholar and a Stone Scholar. When he is not tutoring, Ben is a legal fellow for Earthjustice in Denver, CO where he works to protect the iconic American Southwest and Rocky Mountains from overuse.
What Are Your Bar Exam Game Day Tips?
Plan ahead! You want to make sure that you know what you are eating for breakfast, when you are leaving for the testing center, what and where you are going to eat lunch and where you are going to upload your answers. You don’t want traffic jams, public transit delays or a full parking garage to possibly make you late for the exam (the bar examiners are not understanding). Only take what you need into the exam room. Don’t take the entire list of allowed items with you – having more stuff will just make everything more complicated.
Only talk to positive people. Don’t talk to others about the exam, how stressed they are, or what answer they got on Question 3. There is no way that is ever going to make you feel better. Instead, go back to your hotel or home after the exam and call someone you care about (that isn’t taking the bar exam) to vent about the day.
Lastly, don’t give up! Bad things might happen (the power could go out or there could even be an earthquake!), but you must keep pushing through. You never know how the grades may fall. The only way you can be sure you won’t pass is if you give up and don’t finish the exam.
- Bring ear plugs! And make sure they’re comfortable to use for 6+ hours a day. It might be worth it to trade some sound blocking ability for greater comfort.
- Have a plan for where you’re going to eat lunch. You don’t want to end up without decent food, or you’ll bonk in the afternoon session.
- Pay attention to your caffeine intake. If you typically drink caffeine, don’t stop! (And be sure you know where/how you’re going to get what you need, if you’re staying in a hotel.) But don’t overdo it, either. This isn’t the time to double or triple your standard caffeine intake. Moderation!
- If you’re handwriting, bring painkillers. Your hand will be killing you by the end.
- Bring earplugs! You don’t want to psych yourself out hearing what other people think the exam was about, and the sound of all the typing can be deafening.
- Bring a big, comfy sweater and socks. The exam rooms can be freezing cold, which can be really distracting.
- Bring funny movies for decompressing after the exam. The day ends surprisingly early, and there isn’t a lot of studying to do at night.
- Don’t listen too closely to the instructions before the exam starts. It can be a mind-numbingly boring droning on and on for what seems like forever. Use that time to get in the zone and drill your attack plans in your head.
For me, preparing is more about making sure you have everything you need where you’re staying and have a no-stress way of getting to the testing center. Bagels and coffee. Don’t go to a South Indian restaurant the night before the test and say you like your food “really hot.”
Prepare for any temperature and sound. I took Oregon in February, and they didn’t turn the heat on until late morning. The venue was right next to PDX airport, and you could tell.
Bring lots of food and snacks. Have a schedule for drinking water, so you don’t have to use the restroom during the exam.
Good luck this week! You can do it!
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