Understanding the Bar Exam: What to Expect and How to Prepare

If you're a law student, the bar exam is probably on your mind. This test is the ultimate gateway to becoming a licensed lawyer, and it's essential to take it seriously. The bar exam is notoriously difficult, but with the right preparation, you can pass. In this article, we'll break down what to expect on the bar exam and how to prepare for it.


What is the Bar Exam?

The bar exam is a comprehensive test of your knowledge of law that you take after graduating from law school. It's given in every state and is required to become a practicing lawyer. The exam is typically broken into two parts: the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) and the state-specific portion.

The MBE is a six-hour multiple choice test focused on seven areas of law: Civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, real property, and torts. The state-specific portion is typically a combination of multiple choice and essay questions designed to test your knowledge of the state's specific laws.

When is the Bar Exam Administered?

The bar exam is typically administered twice a year, once in February and again in July. Most people take the bar exam after graduating from law school, but some states allow you to take it before. Check with your state's bar association for specific rules.

How to Prepare for the Bar Exam

Preparing for the bar exam is essential to passing. Here are some steps you can take to make sure you're ready for test day.

1. Develop a Study Plan

The bar exam covers a lot of material, so it's important to start studying early. Develop a study plan that covers all the topics you'll be tested on and stick to it. You can find study guides and other resources online, or you can hire a tutor to help you prepare.

2. Take Practice Exams

Taking practice exams is an excellent way to prepare for the bar exam. Many online resources offer practice exams that are similar to the actual test. Take as many practice exams as you can to get a feel for the types of questions asked and to identify areas where you need to improve.

3. Attend a Bar Review Course

Bar review courses are designed to help you prepare for the bar exam. They offer in-depth review of the material and often include practice exams and other resources. Attending a bar review course can be expensive, but it's worth it if you need additional help preparing for the test.

4. Stay Focused

Studying for the bar exam requires discipline and focus. Make sure you're taking care of your physical and mental health so you can stay focused on your preparation. Take breaks when you need them, get enough sleep, and eat healthy foods to keep your energy levels up.

What to Expect on Bar Exam Day

Knowing what to expect on bar exam day can help you stay calm and focused. Here's a breakdown of what you can expect:

1. Check-In and Security

When you arrive at the testing center, you'll need to check in and show your identification. There will be security measures in place, such as metal detectors, to ensure the integrity of the exam.

2. Instructions

Before the test begins, you'll be given instructions on how to complete the exam. Make sure you listen carefully and ask questions if you're unsure about anything.

3. Testing

The bar exam is typically broken into two or three days, depending on the state. Each day, you'll be given multiple choice and essay questions to complete. You'll have a set amount of time to complete each section, so make sure you're managing your time effectively.

4. Breaks

You'll be given breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Use this time to eat something nutritious, stretch, and relax.

5. End of the Test

When the test is over, you'll be given instructions on how to submit your exam materials. Make sure you follow these instructions carefully to ensure your test is graded correctly.


Preparing for and taking the bar exam can be stressful, but with the right approach, you can pass. Make sure you develop a study plan, take practice exams, attend a bar review course, and stay focused on the task at hand. Knowing what to expect on exam day can also help you stay calm and focused. Good luck!

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