The big day is almost here! You’ve studied, you’ve sweated, you’ve even cried a little – now you’re ready to take the bar exam head on. As it gets closer to the first day of the exam, start planning out the practical details of your two or three day adventure. This is not the time for you to open the fridge on Tuesday morning and realize the milk is sour and you forgot to restock the coffee. Here are your game day tips.
Eat (and Drink) Smart
Depending on your jurisdiction, you may or may not be allowed to bring snacks. If you are like me and tend to snack all day long, the concept of going four or so hours without any food may be troubling. To ensure that hunger pains don’t strike in the middle of an essay, invest in a nutritious breakfast.
On a regular day, you may get away with a bowl of cereal, but this time make sure your breakfast consists of a combination of protein and carbs. I suggest an egg sandwich, with a glass of orange juice and a banana. This should sustain you for the hours ahead and provide you with that much-needed energy.
If you are a coffee drinker, by all means have coffee. However, stay away from the 24 oz. cup as it will cause you to have to take way too many bathroom breaks. Opt for a double espresso instead.
For lunch, pack a sandwich with a big dose of protein in it – for instance, a chicken breast. To satisfy your caffeine addiction, pack a small energy drink to keep you going in the afternoon.
If you are taking the exam away from home and your hotel does not come with continental breakfast, scope out the restaurants and delis in the area of your hotel to see where you can get a quick and nutritious breakfast. Plan your lunch also. If there are no restaurants in the area of your test center, be sure to stop by a convenience store to pick up a sandwich.
Trust No One
The best advice I received for bar exam day is to trust no one. Your law school friends and study buddies will not be on their best behavior. Everybody handles stress differently – some people will pace, some people will desperately continue to read over their notes, and some will attempt to “talk their anxiety out” onto others. Stay away. You do not need to be in that atmosphere in the morning. Find a quiet spot and focus on the fact that you prepared and you are ready.
The same advice applies to breaks – perhaps even more so. Unless you are 110% sure that you and your BFF are on the same page with regard to not discussing the exam, find a quiet spot and eat your lunch by yourself. Otherwise, you will expose yourself to bar exam takers joyfully announcing that they nailed a section of an exam you may not have felt comfortable with and to others who will frantically compare all of their answers. Neither approach is good for your sanity.
After the exam, head home or to your hotel room. Grab dinner with your family or non-lawyer friends. Watch a movie or an episode of your favorite show and try to put the day behind you. You know you did your best.
Follow the Rules
If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with your jurisdiction’s instructions for what you are allowed to bring and wear, and what has to stay home or in the car. Are you allowed to bring a drink? Snacks? Tissues? Are you allowed to wear a hoodie? Can you bring your laptop bag into the exam area? Know the answers to these questions.
One universal rule is that you are not allowed to bring your cell phone into the exam area. My suggestion is for you to leave it in the car. In one horror story I heard, a bar exam taker checked his cell phone on break, placed it in his pocket and forgot about it until it rang during the exam. That phone call can wait.
Finally, listen to and follow the instructions of the bar exam proctors in the morning and before and after breaks. If you are supposed to leave your laptop in the exam room while you leave on your lunch break, by all means don’t leave with it in your hand.
You’ve Got This!
Think about it – three or four years ago you were a wide-eyed 1L struggling to make it through your Civ Pro reading. Today, your brain is filled with more legal knowledge than you ever thought possible. This is an amazing achievement. You should be proud of yourself. In a few days, the exam will be behind you. In the meantime, know that you’re going to do great.