Not sure what to bring to the bar exam? Below we’ll outline our bar exam checklist to make sure you’re on track.
Now, that you’ve finished law school, you’re on your way to becoming a fully-fledged lawyer. Just one more obstacle lies in your way: the bar exam. It’s one of the most important steps in becoming a lawyer and is well-known to be highly challenging.
In addition to rigorous studying, it’s important to be well-organized. Understanding exactly what to bring to the bar exam (and what not to bring) can set you up for success. Having all of the essentials at your disposal will help you focus on acing the bar.
Whether you’re traveling to take the bar exam, or staying local, there are certain essentials you need to bring to make sure you have a smooth test day. We’ve put together a comprehensive bar exam checklist to help you keep track of everything.
Before packing your bag for the bar exam, you should confirm which items your jurisdiction will allow you to bring. You can reference the National Conference of Bar Examiners for a summary of bar exam information and specific test day policies.
There are certain items that you need to bring to the bar exam. They’re the most important part of your bar exam checklist.
Set yourself up for success by packing these essential items in advance. This will help you make sure you have everything you need to be well prepared.
If you are planning to stay in a hotel close to your testing location, your bar exam checklist will require more travel-oriented items. The following items will guarantee you’re as comfortable and prepared as possible:
It’s important to de-stress before the bar exam, which can look different for everyone. Make an effort to do something that relaxes you - whether that’s going for a leisurely walk, watching a movie or exercising.
It’s key to look after your physical and mental health before and during the bar exam. Try your best to nourish yourself, drink water, and sleep restfully. Minimizing distractions and prioritizing self-care will help. On test day, consider bringing:
The items you pack for the bar exam will depend on your specific needs and your jurisdiction’s requirements. So, be sure to take the time out to consider what you’ll need to make things as seamless as possible for you on test day.
Along with understanding what to bring to the bar exam, it’s important to plan effectively. The goal is to be as efficient as possible, to prevent any unnecessary stress before and during the bar exam.
The majority of states have bar exams that span two days. On the first day, test-takers undertake the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). The second day is reserved for the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).
It’s critical that you pack all of the essentials for both days. Check off your bar exam checklist as you pack your bag, and make sure you’re well-prepared for two days of rigorous test-taking! Having everything you need organized well ahead of the bar exam will help you reduce pre-test stress.
If your testing location isn’t conveniently located close to home it’s wise to book a hotel. This is a common practice that can help reduce stress and save time. Try to book your hotel as soon as you receive notice of your testing location to make sure you secure a room. Be sure to confirm your hotel reservation leading up to the bar exam.
Some jurisdictions, such as California, even offer resources to help you find a hotel close to their testing locations, and offer rates to make your stay more affordable.
Plan how you’ll commute to and from your testing location. This applies whether you’re travelling or staying home. You need to ensure that you’ll arrive at the testing location ahead of schedule, each day. Confirm your method of transportation and the route you’ll need to take.
Many bar exams include a portion to be taken on the computer. If this is the case for you, the last thing you want is for your computer to cause you stress during the bar exam. You also don’t want it to prevent you from taking a portion of the bar exam.
If you will be taking a portion of the bar exam on your computer, follow your jurisdiction's instructions to register your laptop beforehand. It’s also important that you make sure it will operate effectively throughout the test. Charge it beforehand and install any updates to help it run smoothly.
Confirm whether exam software is required and that it’s compatible with your laptop. Download it ahead of your exam. Remove all of your study materials from your laptop. Eject any USB flash drives, CDs and DVDs prior to your exam. Following these steps will help ensure your computer is in tip-top shape for the bar exam.
If you have any more questions regarding what to bring to the bar exam, read on to learn more.
It’s crucial to bring proof that you’re entitled to take the bar exam. While this generally includes photo identification and an admissions certification, be sure to double-check your state’s requirements. Make sure your photo identification matches the ID you submitted your application with.
Bring writing materials you can count on. Don't forget your laptop, charging cord and an extension cord.
Wear clothing that is both appropriate and comfortable. Confirm if your jurisdiction has a dress code prior to planning your outfits. If it does, it’s important that you plan multiple outfits that adhere to it. If you have a tendency to get cold, don’t forget to bring a sweater or sweatshirt!
Water bottles are generally allowed at all testing locations nationwide. Many jurisdictions require water bottles to be transparent.
Most jewellery is generally not allowed when taking the bar exam. The reasoning behind this is to limit all unnecessary items during the bar exam. Some jurisdictions do allow you to wear your wedding bands/rings though.
After reviewing this bar exam checklist, you hopefully have a good understanding of what to bring to the bar exam. Each item listed above is intended to make your bar exam experience more organized and comfortable.