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May 5, 2008

12 Bar Exam Tips and a Bonus Post-Exam Idea

1.      Do not bring a cell phone or pager to the exam.  If you must bring an electronic device, turn the ringer off.  Failure to do this may cause you to lose your test-taking privileges as it did for some as far back as the July 2003 Illinois Bar.

2.     Bring more pens and pencils than you can imagine needing.

3.     If you are using a laptop, bring two of every peripheral thing that you might need.

4.      Rent a nearby hotel room.  If you live more than 15 minutes from the test site or you have to travel through anything resembling Minnesota's Summer Road Construction or Winter Weather, consider renting a nearby hotel room.

5.      Bring two watches to keep your time, even if you remember putting a new battery into your favorite watch during the last year.  If you don't know the trick of setting your watch for every test period at 12:00, your Bar Review reps will tell you about it.

6.      Folks with "bad vibes."  Stay away from the people who are flipping pages in The Uniform Commercial Code while walking toward the testing room. Really.  By that time, it's too late.

7.      Exam Graders are human #1: If you are writing the test, write legibly and follow directions.  If you are told to write on one side of the paper, do it.  If you are instructed to skip every other line, do so.

8.     Exam Graders are human #2:  If you are typing, remember that "Spelchek" isn't Thought Check and that at the very important level of getting your point across, grammar may matter. 

9.      Bar Exam Graders are one of the last two stops on the road to Bar Admission, and they can refer you back to the Character and Fitness Committee if they find something on your exam that calls your character or judgement into question.  Under no circumstance should you swear at the Bar Examiners in your answer.

10.    Don't Discuss.  There will be people gathered during the breaks discussing the questions they just answered.  Avoid these discussions.  Someone whose study habits are unknown to you is not the person from whom you need a review of a Property question.

11.    Don't Fret.  Don't not be too concerned about the question that generates wildly different opinions about the substantive issues tested. Every bar exam has one of those questions, and you will have the rest of your professional life to speculate about the answers. (Note from the July 1984 test:  Was it privacy or some kind of criminal question?  We still don't know.)

12.    Eat.  Go out for dinner after the first test day.  Eat well, have a small glass of wine, go home (or back to your hotel), flip through your flash cards or your outline, and go to sleep.

13.    Take a break after the exam.  Go somewhere. Sit by a lake.  See a movie. Have some fun.

Susan Gainen, University of Minnesota Law School

May 5, 2008 | Permalink

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