During the final weeks of bar prep, and certainly on the actual exam days, you’ll want to be able to devote all of your energy to preparing for and taking the test. To help ensure that you can focus on the exam, make sure you’ve taken care of the following logistical details in advance.
- Confirm your registration – Make sure that you’ve completed every step you need to in order to sit for the exam. Confirm that you registered to take the test, your background check is complete, you paid all the necessary fees, etc. Review any and all paperwork you received to make sure you’ve done everything you need to do. If you’ve asked for special testing accommodations, make sure they’ve been approved. And while you’re at it, triple check that you have the correct test date and location in your calendar.
- Know how to get to the testing site – That last thing you want on exam day is to get lost or not be able to find a parking spot. Make a practice drive to the test site at the time you would need to leave for the exam so you will know how to get there and know how long it will take you.
- Make hotel reservations – If you need to stay in a hotel during the exam administration, book your hotel room early. If you live more than 30 minutes from the exam site, have young children, or have other distractions at home, staying at a hotel the night before and during the exam is a great option.
- Check your laptop – If you will be completing the essay portion of the exam on your laptop, make sure it’s working well and that you have the necessary software downloaded. There’s nothing more stressful than having to deal with “computer problems” the day of the exam, so make sure your laptop is in good condition.
- Read the directions – Read and then re-read the directions sent to you by the bar examiners. Make sure you understand the rules for being admitted to the exam, the rules for taking bathroom breaks, and the rules for bringing items into the exams. Gather what you’ll need to complete the exam – pencils, I.D., etc. – and make sure everything is in compliance with the instructions.
- Create a test day plan – Don’t spend energy on test day having to think about where to eat lunch or what you’ll do after day 1. Create a plan in advance so that you can focus during the test and then rest your mind during the breaks. Your plan should include when you’ll arrive at the test site, where and with who you will eat lunch, and what you’ll do at the conclusion of the first test day.
- Prepare for curve balls – Most people get through the exam without any major glitches, but curve balls do happen. You can reduce the stress and anxiety any potential curve balls may cause by anticipating them and preparing for them. So, recruit a backup driver who can get you to the exam site the morning of the exam in the event your car doesn’t start. Find someone with four-wheel drive who can get through ice and snow if the weather is bad. Remind yourself that if your laptop stops working, you will be perfectly fine handwriting an answer. Advise friends and family that you will not be able to deal with any crisis during this period. Accept that something crazy might happen the day of the exam, but promise yourself that it won’t affect your performance.