In just two weeks (yikes!), new graduates across the nation will be taking the bar exam. One of the major purchases for the bar should’ve been a bar prep course. Although pricey, it is well worth the investment (*Barrister on a Budget Bonus! Put a deposit on a course during 1L or 2L and you’ll get discounts or lock in that year’s price, and you usually receive complimentary study aides for your core classes and the MPRE!), as the course will increase your chances of passing the exam on the first try. Other than this major purchase, here are four other bargain purchases that will help you when it’s time to take the exam.
1. Digital Watch: Most bar examiners will prohibit phones (which is what the majority of us use to tell time these days) during the exam. If you’re like me, squinting your eyes to pick out the little tick on a watch is annoying and a burden when taking a timed exam. A digital watch gives you something to quickly look at to keep your pace during each section of the exam. Make sure that all alarms/beeps/etc. are turned off, so the examiners won’t confiscate it. Do not go into the exam without practicing with your timing device. Your practice exams should simulate the real thing as much as possible to decrease stress and eliminate distractions that are in your control. You can usually find a good one for $15-$20.
2. Earplugs: If noises like an ambulance blaring it’s siren as it passes your test center or even the faint sound of other test-takers hyperventilating bothers you, then earplugs are a lifesaver! Just pop these in after the instructions are given, and blissfully take your exam in silence. You can get a lifetime supply of these things for about $2. However, be smart about the health of your ears and use earplugs safely (click the credit below the photo for the hidden dangers of earplugs).
3. Hand Grip Exercise Thingy: Okay, laugh if you will, but this thing came in really handy (pun intended). I didn’t trust to use my computer for the exam because it was severely worn out from law school and was unlikely to upload the answers in the allotted time. I decided it was better to take the exam by hand, but I wanted to prevent a major hand cramp from messing up my timing and writing legibility. As you would train your legs for running a marathon, I trained my hands for the essay marathon. I would use this thing while I reviewed answers, read, or watched lectures. Three days of writing and filling in circles, and I didn’t get a hand cramp once! I found my hand grip thing for free, and if you don’t want to spend money for this fine piece of exercise equipment, I’m sure a stress ball will also do the trick.
4. Dress Like an Onion: Maybe not literally. Dress in layers so you are prepared for whatever temperature the exam center is that day. Feeling uncomfortable from an extreme temperature can mess with your body and mind and will take away your focus from the exam. If you arrive in layers, you can take away or add what you need to feel comfortable. Remember, the point is to eliminate distractions that are in your control.
Hang in there, and good luck!