How to prepare for a Remote Bar Exam

 

During the past year, we’ve all had to make fundamental changes to our daily life: how we work, eat, and interact with others have been dramatically affected. And, unfortunately, the bar exam has not been immune to these changes. With many states administering the bar exam remotely in 2020 — and now into 2021 — what was already a very difficult and stressful time has become even more challenging as examinees are forced to navigate this new territory. 

At Quimbee, we’ve been working remotely since our founding over a decade ago, and we’ve been dedicated to providing online learning tools since day one. With that expertise, here are a few tips for taking a remote bar exam:

  1. Prepare your space. Most law school graduates are experts in finding quiet places to study. And if you were a student in 2020, you almost certainly have experience taking exams remotely. Because of the high stakes of the bar exam, it’s vital that you have the ideal testing environment on exam day. While some schools offer exam space on campus, not all do, and space is not always guaranteed. Plan ahead to make sure you know exactly where you’ll be taking the test. If you’re taking it at home, try to have everyone else out of the house, apartment, or nearby space while you’re taking the exam. You might even consider leaving a note over your doorbell requesting potential visitors to come back later. You’ll need a reliable internet connection and a comfortable chair—you’ll be sitting for awhile. And make sure you take all prohibited items, such as cell phones and study material, out of the room the night before the exam, so you don’t have to think about them on exam day.
  1. Understand the features and capabilities of your software. Different jurisdictions are utilizing different software to administer the exam, and each type of software has different functionalities. For example, some software allows examinees to virtually cross out answers. Additionally, other jurisdictions are allowing examinees to use virtual scratch paper where physical paper is not permitted—you should plan out how, if at all, you’ll utilize these features before you take the exam. 
  1. Practice under real conditions. Most jurisdictions actually require examinees to take a mock exam before test day. Even if you’re not required to do this, we highly recommend going through a practice test (ideally, multiple practice tests) under the same conditions as the actual exam. You want to be comfortable with the software you’ll be using so that on exam day, you can focus solely on the test material, not on trying to understand and navigate the software.
  1. Plan for the worst. In these uncertain times, when we’re all facing new experiences, it’s almost a given that something will go wrong. In previous remote bar exams, states faced issues ranging from hacking to internal software failure. As you prepare for the exam, you should always keep in the back of your mind the fact that something might happen to disrupt your exam. If this happens, stay calm, and be prepared to get right back into the exam when the issue is resolved.

A remote bar exam poses different challenges than the standard in-person exam; however, your approach to these challenges should not be fundamentally different from how you would approach any challenge. Know the rules, practice, and be ready for things to go wrong. The bar exam is one of the most stressful times in most attorneys’ legal careers, and having to sit through the exam under unique conditions doesn’t make things easier. But you’ll be faced with unanticipated roadblocks throughout your career—this test certainly won’t be your final struggle. If you can maintain your focus and successfully traverse the remote bar exam, you’ll be able to begin your legal career with confidence.