The next administration of the bar exam, February 22 – 23, 2022, is a few months away! Whether you are considering taking this exam or you have already determined it’s a done deal—you can best prepare by knowing what deadlines to look out for and the proactive steps you can take in the months leading up to the exam. Below are some points to equip you with the information that can position you for those next steps.
1. Know the deadlines
Mark your calendars for February 22 – 23, 2022! Importantly, there are additional deadlines leading up to the big week that you need to flag earlier rather than later. When it comes to deadlines in general, it is best to rely on information directly from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) website and the Board of Law Examiners for your specific jurisdiction. You can find specifics about the Uniform Bar Exam here.
Most jurisdictions require you to create an account to register for the exam. Note that the email address on file will be the main method of communication your state uses to reach you. You want to be sure to prioritize these communications. You may not receive as much correspondence upfront, but in the months leading up to the exam there can be separate deadlines such as a new software download and mock exams to complete by a certain date. If you miss such a deadline, this could jeopardize your February exam registration.
2. Jurisdiction-specific deadlines for accommodations
If you have a qualifying disability under the Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), you can check the guidelines from your jurisdiction on its accommodation’s application process and deadlines. For example, New York State’s Test Accommodations Application must be received almost 2.5 months before the exam. However, you should really submit earlier than that as jurisdictions strongly recommend filing early. In addition, you must also factor in the extra time you need to prepare and meet stringent documentation requirements. As you prepare documentation, check available guidance from your state to ensure it complies, so that you don’t waste any time. Keep in mind that documentation requirements can vary according to the qualifying disability. For example, in New York, applications based on ADHD, learning disabilities, or other cognitive disorders, must contain the following: LSAT score report, SAT/ACT score report, Law School and Undergraduate transcript(s), and historical documentation of first diagnosis, or an explanation for why this information is missing. If you are applying again and there has been a change in your diagnosis, you should check your jurisdiction’s guidelines to ensure you’re in full compliance.
3. Stay current
You want to be sure to stay current on your jurisdiction’s plans, which can change at any time. For this reason, it is important to practice being flexible and adaptable to what test day will look like. Trust me, I know how hard that can be as a pandemic graduate and bar taker myself!
As you may recall, after the July 2021 exam, several articles suggested it may be the final remote bar exam. However, jurisdictions may decide differently as the pandemic remains an evolving health concern. Importantly, while the NCBE anticipates an in-person exam in February 2022, they also made clear that both NCBE and jurisdictions must continue to monitor the public health landscape and make changes accordingly. According to their press statement, “NCBE recognizes that any jurisdiction’s public health authority may establish that candidates cannot test in person. Should that occur, we are committed to working with that jurisdiction on a solution that will enable its candidates to take the bar exam.”
Staying current on changes in your jurisdiction is also critically important for those making travel plans, including hotel arrangements. If your jurisdiction announces an in-person exam, and you decide to travel and/or lodge in the testing area—be sure that the hotel provides a free cancellation policy. For example, when my friends and I registered to take the bar exam in 2020, the date was postponed and changed from in-person to remote due to the pandemic. Fortunately, some friends who secured hotels with free cancellation policies were refunded money.
4. Get a headstart
It is always a great idea to come up with a game plan for bar exam success. I would start with familiarizing with highly tested subjects, and determining which are your biggest weaknesses. Then, I would prioritize your most challenging subjects. As a bonus if you are a retaker, you have access to review your last exam. This offers you a great opportunity to really examine and understand where you fell short and can improve. Also, be sure to use this time to check out resources available to you to start off on the right foot. Most of all, remember that you have what it takes to conquer this exam!