The Bar Exam

Later this week hundreds of would-be lawyers will take the Ohio bar exam at the Veterans Memorial building in Columbus.  Our nephew Matt will be among them.

In Ohio, you cannot become a licensed lawyer unless you pass the bar exam (among other requirements).  Twice a year, in February and July, applicants sit in a large common room and take a three-day test that addresses various areas of the law.

Because the bar exam is an all-or-nothing proposition — you either pass, or you are unable to practice law despite the three years of law school you’ve just completed — stress levels are absurdly high.  For many people, the bar exam is the single most stressful thing they’ve ever done.  Those who have passed always remember what it was like to take the exam, to sit in that big room with hundreds of other people, all charged with adrenalin and worry and regret that they didn’t study harder, and then to read the initial questions and hope you knew how to answer them.  At breaks between testing sessions, law school friends frantically discuss how they answered the questions in the prior session, becoming more agitated in the process.  Although my bar exam memories are more than 25 years old, these scenes remain fresh and distinct — and painful.

If anyone taking the exam this week happens to be reading this, my advice is simple:  by now, you’re either prepared or you aren’t.  Knock off your studies the afternoon before the first day of the exam, have a good dinner, go see a movie, and get a good’s night sleep.  Being well-rested is a lot more important than obsessive last-second cramming.  Take a book to read during the breaks; revisiting questions with others isn’t going to do anything except increase your stress level.  And get to Vets Memorial early!  Don’t take a chance on a mechanical breakdown or traffic jam.

Good luck, Matt!  I know you’ll do well.


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