Tips from the woman who passed the bar while in labor


Thirty minutes after Brianna Hill started the remote October 2020 Illinois Bar Exam, her water broke. She was in early labor. After she finished the morning portion of the exam, she called her midwife. Brianna’s midwife told her she would be able to complete the exam. Brianna then powered through the afternoon portion! Her baby was born at 10:10 p.m. CT that evening.

Running on only 1.5 hours of sleep and set up in a vacant hospital room, Brianna completed the second day of the bar exam—the multiple-choice portion (Multistate Bar Exam). 

Here are Brianna’s tips for staying calm and focused even when something unexpected happens!

 1. Dress well, test well!

Despite being nine months pregnant and certainly not in the mood to sit for a lengthy two-day exam, Brianna got up in the morning, changed into her regular clothes, put on makeup, and did her best to feel confident. 

Obviously, dressing well will not replace preparing for the exam. But it helps boost confidence and puts you on the path to success!

 2. Mimic your testing conditions to the extent possible. 

Mimic testing conditions to the maximum extent possible prior to the exam. Test in the same room you plan on taking the exam in. Practice testing the same hours of the day that the exam is administered. Wear the same clothes you plan on wearing. Become familiar with the testing software. Replicating exam conditions prior to exam day will help you stay focused on the task at hand.

In Brianna’s case, she experienced preterm labor, which made her more familiar with what labor is like and helped her stay calm during the exam. 

 3. Try to find balance 

Studying for the bar exam is stressful to say the least. But aim to find balance. Brianna took naps, worked out, cooked, and took time for herself. She knew she would be much more effective at studying if she created balance in her life.

It is easy to become so focused on the bar exam that you forget about everything else that helps keep you healthy and happy. However, making time for health and happiness will also make your studying more effective! 

 4. Trust yourself! 

Put in the work. Stay the course. Then trust that you are ready, even if it doesn’t feel like you are making a lot of progress. 

Staying positive can make a big difference in staying focused and keeping your cool during the exam. 

 5. Ask questions

The bar exam is now being offered remotely for many February 2021 takers. If you have a question about the protocols, your exam software, or anything else, then ask it! Consider contacting your exam software vendor, your law school, or your state’s board of law examiners to ask whatever questions you may have. Knowing the answers to your questions ahead of time will help you stay focused on exam day.

Lastly, remember that the bar exam does not measure how smart you are, how hard working you are, or even how good of an attorney you will be! Your worth is not measured by your bar exam score.