The bar exam, every law student’s least favorite test. It is also the barrier of entry to become an attorney or other certain legal professions. Thousands of individuals sit for the bar exam every year and manage to survive! Since you are here, you likely have a ton of questions relating to the bar exam. What should you expect at the bar exam? What should you do to prepare yourself for success? How will you be able to pass?? Preparing and taking the bar exam can be a stressful and daunting task, however lucky for you, I have successfully taken and passed the bar exam! In order to assist you in this treacherous journey, I have answered some “questions” that you may be asking in regards to the bar exam. Hopefully these answers will shed some light on what the bar exam entails so that you will feel more prepared for your next steps!
What is the bar exam?
For some it is an opportunity, for others it is their worst nightmare. The bar exam is an exam that most states require you to take (and pass) before you are able to obtain your license and be eligible to practice law. Each state bar designs or adopts a certain test that serves to measure competency in potential lawyers.
Where can I find information on the bar exam?
You should check your intended jurisdiction’s bar examiners website for more details on the bar exam and the qualifications. You can also check out http://www.ncbex.org/exams/mbe/.
What does the bar exam test?
Each jurisdiction chooses what to test on the bar exam. Each state bar chooses what areas of law to cover and how frequently certain topics are tested. Usually there is a multiple choice section and essay section. Many states administer the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) for the multiple-choice sections of the bar exam. Most jurisdictions also administer the UBE (Uniform Bar Exam). However, the areas of law and specifics of the bar exam vary by jurisdiction. Personally, I took the Michigan bar exam which utilized the MBE multiple choice and had state-specific essay questions. You can look at what your state requires by following this link: http://www.ncbex.org/exams/mbe/.
What happens at the bar exam?
Like any standardized test, you will be in a room with a bunch of others taking an exam to determine your future. Most states have two or three day exams divided by multiple choice question days and essay days. You will be assigned a seat number where you will take the entire exam and will be supervised by a particular exam proctor. Usually you have to arrive early in the morning, get an hour or so for lunch and finish in mid-to-late afternoon. Basically, it is a multi-day exhausting marathon of test-taking.
When is the bar exam administered?
Like most of these answers, it depends on the jurisdiction! Most bar exams are two or three days. Since a majority of states administer the MBE, the standardized multiple choice section, this must be tested on the same day. Thus, the bar exam is usually given twice a year, in the last week of February and the last week of July. Please note that North Dakota and Delaware sometimes test only once a year in July if they do not have enough applicants. Louisiana does not administer the MBE, so test days may differ.
What should I bring to the bar exam?
You will want to make sure you are prepared prior to the exam and know what you need to bring on test day! Each exam is administered differently and the bar examiners create lists of things to bring (and things not to bring!) to your exam. For example, here is a helpful link on what to take to the California bar exam!
How should I prepare for the bar exam?
Your preparation for the bar exam is as important as actually sitting for the exam! Ultimately, you will need to choose your method of studying for the bar exam. Some people opt to do a self-study program. Others purchase a bar exam course from a bar prep provider. Some people even get tutored. There are numerous different ways to prepare for the bar exam, and you should find the best method that works for you! The Bar Exam Toolbox also offers tutoring and bar exam courses as well.
Should I take the bar exam?
Ultimately, this is a very personal question. If you are in a jurisdiction where bar passage is required and you want to be a lawyer, then you will have to take the bar exam. However, there are many careers and opportunities that do not require you to take the bar exam. You will have to decide if you want to take the bar exam and if so, what exam you want to take!
Will I be able to pass the bar exam?
The bar exam can seem like an extremely difficult task. Honestly, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It is very easy to get yourself stressed out and overwhelmed during the exam preparation, and it is not an easy feat to pass the bar. Passing takes a lot of work, time, and dedication. After all, the bar exam is like a marathon, not a sprint. All that being said, it is not impossible to pass. You can be successful with a lot of hard work and self confidence. Many people have been able to pass the bar exam and you can be one of them!