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How to Prepare for an Online Bar Exam
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Recent law school graduates waiting to sit for the 2020 bar exam have been trough a lot this summer. Studying for the licensing test is an exhausting, stressful and expensive process on its own, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic, where disruption and uncertainty linger in every aspect of your everyday life. 

By now, at least fifteen states including New York, California, New Jersey, and Illinois have announced plans of administrating an abbreviated online test prepared by NCBE on Oct 5.

This is the first time the attorney licensing test will be administered and proctored online, so a lot of things regarding the process are unclear.


Nevertheless, just because it”s a new concept, it doesn’t mean it has to be any different from an in-person exam! 

So here are some tips for prospective attorneys waiting to take an online bar exam.

1. Prepare accordingly for an online exam

This is an adjustment for many examinees, so getting used to it sooner rather than later will help you stay prepared and ready. Many states that are offering an online bar exam disallow test-takers from using pen and paper.

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Instead, examinees will be expected to do everything digitally ― reading and answering the question as well as taking notes on their computers.  So, to be fully prepared for the online model, mimic the upcoming exam and practice on your computer by using a digital note-taking platform.

This strategy will help you identify potential setbacks that might happen during the exam and resolve them on time. Getting familiar with the process will help you adjust faster and be more relaxed.

2. Double-check your Wi-Fi

 States offering an online bar exam require a video recording to prevent cheating and to monitor any irregularities, so check if your video camera works properly. Double-check your Wi-Fi and make sure your connection isn’t finicky. Some states like Indiana require an external webcam with a desktop stand. So make sure you have all the needed information about your state’s requirements.

3. Make sure your tech equipment is functioning properly

Figure out what laptop or desktop you are going to use. If your laptop tends to freeze regularly, or you have keys that always stick, you might consider borrowing or even buying a new laptop. Some states are also allowing exam takers to use “loaner” laptops if the student does not have their own functional laptop. So you can check with your state board if this is the case!

Try to get this all set up early, so that you can anticipate if there’s going to be any problems during the exam. It’s better to know now than a day before the exam. You don’t want any unpredicted tech issues that will undoubtedly add to your stress.

4. Set up your room following the requirements 

Some states are very strict with their requirements of what is—and is not—allowed in the room. For example, California does not allow any items in the testing room, including but not limited to clocks, digital timers, watches, scratch paper, books of any kind, food, beverages, stereos, radios, etc. Also, no other than you are allowed in the testing room, including animals. Examinees are prohibited from having any study materials, notes, outlines, or cell phones in the room.

See if you can set up a room that follows the requirements ahead of time. The last thing you want is to be disqualified from the exam because a prohibited item was inadvertently left in the room!

5. Test your knowledge 

BarBri is offering a 70-question Baseline Assessment for free, and you don’t have to be signed up for BarBri’s bar prep course in order to take it. After you take the Baseline Assessment, BarBri sends you a report with information about areas of strength and areas that you need to prioritize for improvement during your bar studies. 

6. Take breaks

You have a lot on your plate. You are likely studying seven days a week without a break, and you still feel like you are going nowhere. Studying without breaks is counterproductive as you will burn out and likely halt the studying process. So, take as many breaks as possible. Go for a run, meditate, do yoga, meet with friends, take a day or a weekend off. To learn more effectively, you must find a way to vent.

7. Focus on what you can control

You likely have a lot on your mind, as it’s not easy to study for the most stressful exam in your life while worrying about the future of your career, your loved ones, and everything else. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty that looms over everyone living through the pandemic. But if you try to eliminate all the ‘what ifs’ that paralyze you, you can study better and focus on something that you can control.

While you can’t control what’s going to happen with the bar exam and what your state is going to do, you can control your study schedule; you can control how you are going to approach this during the pandemic. So don’t dwell on things that are out of your control, and focus on what you do best.



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