Getting ready to take the bar exam? AdaptiBar recommends completing these steps first to eliminate excess stress and ensure a smooth bar exam experience. Also, click here for a complete printable before-the-bar checklist!
- Make A List
Each state bar has its own distinct rules and regulations, so it’s important to thoroughly research your jurisdiction before taking the bar exam. Don’t strictly rely on a friend or classmate to provide you with important test details. Instead, personally read through the exam information provided to you by your jurisdiction, also generally found on your state’s bar website, writing down all information that stands out to you as critical to taking the exam–dress code, allowed and prohibited items, when you are expected to arrive at your venue, etc. This will also reduce exam-day stress by saving important exam details in one location so that you do not have to look them up again later.
- Double-Check Requirements
To avoid unexpected check-in or testing complications from occurring on exam day, make sure that you have paid all your fees, registered your laptop if you are using one, and that your laptop fits all Mac or PC requirements for SofTest, the bar exam’s designated testing software. For example, Windows users must have a laptop with a screen resolution no lower than 1024 x 768 to efficiently use SofTest on the bar exam. It would be wise to review your jurisdiction’s general behavioral guidelines to safeguard that your exam-day actions comply with all rules and restrictions as well, from bringing food and drink into the testing room to getting up from your seat to use the bathroom.
- Plan Your Stay
Planning your stay is not simply knowing where you’ll be sleeping at night during the bar exam. While sleeping arrangements are undeniably essential, this step also entails making hotel reservations, prearranging your food, and determining how you will spend your free time.
Living: The majority of exam-takers opt for staying in a hotel during bar exam week. If this is true for you, eliminate transportation-related stressors by staying in the closest possible hotel to your venue. Have you made reservations yet? If not, secure a room for yourself immediately. While staying in a hotel is recommended, if you have already decided to commute from another location to the exam, make sure that you will be staying in quiet and comfortable environment that is also reliable for transportation.
Food: AdaptiBar recommends that you bring a majority of the food you will eat from home instead of relying on restaurants to prepare your meals for you. The last thing you need to worry about during bar exam week is getting sick off of uncooked or improperly prepared food from an outside source. Buy filling foods from the grocery store that will help keep your mind alert during the exam – protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. If you do opt for eating out, avoid fast food, seafood, rare-cooked meat and buffets to reduce your risk of getting sick.
Free Time: Free time during exam week should not be spent meeting up with friends or staying up late to study. Instead, give your mind and body the rest they need to be as alert as possible during the bar exam by filling your free time with relaxing activities. Is there a movie you’ve been waiting to watch? Could your brain use an afternoon nap to recover from the exam? Plan in advance how you will use your free time to reduce exam-day stress. Taking a walk outside or other light cardio exercises are valuable recreational activities as well, just don’t overdo it.
- Make a Game Plan
Know exactly what you will do the day of the bar exam, beginning the moment you wake up in the morning. Consider what you will wear, eat for breakfast, and bring with you to the exam. Then, look up directions to your venue and determine what transportation you will use to get there. What steps will you need to complete once you arrive at your testing site? Make you sure are fully prepared for your venue’s check-in process, as oftentimes you must provide a government-issued ID and proof of admission to be seated for the exam. Also familiarize yourself with your venue’s layout so that you can minimize the time you spend away from your testing area going to the bathroom or getting a drink. Finally, determine how you will pace yourself and stay relaxed during the exam. If you use AdaptiBar, you can look under the ‘timing analysis’ tab to determine your “sweet spot”, or the interval of time you are most likely to answer test questions correctly. By mapping out your steps in advance, you will feel more comfortable completing them on exam day.
- Test Your Equipment
If you have already registered to use a laptop during the bar exam, it’s especially important for you to double-check that you have properly installed the designated software, SofTest, onto it and that it is functioning properly. Because limited tech support will be available to you on exam day, it is highly encouraged that you fully familiarize yourself with the technical aspects of SofTest and your computer system as well. Oftentimes before you are eligible to use your laptop on exam day, you will also be required to upload or complete a Mock Bar Exam using SofTest, so validate that you have finished this task in advance. As for your writing materials, make sure they write smoothly and contain sufficient lead or ink for the exam.
- Pack Your Bags
Pack what you plan on bringing with you to your hotel or staying location at least 3 to 4 days before the bar exam. This way, you can spend more time evaluating what you will need instead of worrying about the exam itself. This will also give you time to run to the store if you are missing or running low on something. For a complete bar exam packing list, see before-the-bar checklist. Note, however, that the list is subject to change depending on your personal needs and jurisdiction standards.
- Eliminate Distractions
Do your friends and family frequently interrupt your study time with phone calls or visits? Do you find yourself easily distracted during your bar prep? Are you stressing about paying your monthly bills? As the days steadily approach to the bar exam, you want to maximize your study time and minimize time spent resolving conflicts, obligations, and distractions. Create a comfortable environment for yourself during exam week by taking care of such matters now that could potentially sidetrack you later. Also be sure to inform your family and friends of the time you need to put into the bar exam so that they will be more understanding of your busy schedule.
- Prioritize Studying
Now is not the time to start remodeling your kitchen or offer to watch your neighbor’s kids for the day. Avoid starting something new and taking on extra tasks before the bar exam and, if you haven’t already, commit to making studying your full-time job.