Bar Exam Memories — and How to Celebrate Until Work Begins

Congratulations to all of the recent JDs finishing up their bar exam today! I thought I’d start an open thread for those of us past the experience to share our stressful memories, as well as to share the fonder memories of the celebrations and relaxations that followed. I’ll start.

I always like to look at this picture, taken of my then-dorm room wall a few weeks before the bar exam. (My DC lease ended in May, but my NYC lease didn’t start until September, so I opted to spend the summer in an NYU dorm.) Along with the few pieces of “artwork” I traveled with and a few pictures of family and friends, you can see that here I’ve also Scotch-taped to the wall all the important things: papers listing important criminal procedure facts, as well as the different levels of murder that one can be charged with under both New York and multi-state law. Or something — I don’t really remember any of it now.

The few memories I have of the exam itself are fairly intense ones. I took all my little Scotch-taped charts with me and hung them around my hotel room in Albany. I even taped them to the bathroom mirror so I could review them while brushing my teeth. Most of my memories are of the hotel room — this dank, horrible hotel room where I was surrounded by my crazy-person papers and the largest ants I had ever seen in my life.  I remember peering into the bathroom mirror (between the papers) and realizing, for the first time, that I could see several gray hairs sticking straight up out of my temple. I was 26. I remember coming back between day 1 and day 2 and trying to relax by renting the frothy teen comedy What a Girl Wants – and I remember hysterically sobbing at one plot point in the movie (a father/daughter disagreement? a misunderstanding? who knows) and knowing that my reaction to the movie was way, way out of proportion to the movie itself. (Honestly, the only thing that can compare to it is my memory of watching The Thornbirds, which is a miniseries made for sobbing anyway.) I remember sitting in a huge auditorium (a football stadium, maybe) and trying my best to remember every piece of information I’d poured into my head, and trying to work some BarBri-sanctioned advice  where they’d told us to guess (C) for every question we were unsure of and then come back to devote more time to the question if and when we could. I also remember booking it out of Albany for the train back to NYC. On the train I found myself surrounded by fellow Bar Survivors, and collectively we broke the rule that you never talk about the substance of a test after you take it.  It was strangely cathartic, like we couldn’t not talk about it. I remember buying a bag of popcorn for the trainride home for “lunch” — when I got to New York I joined some friends who were already celebrating with liquid libations at someone’s apartment, which stands out separately as one of the Most Drunk Nights, ever, in my life.

The next day, horribly hung over, I had about 24 hours to pack up everything and get out of NYU because the summer lease was ending, and also to pack for my bar trip — heading to London and Paris for two weeks to shop. As it turned out this was a fantastically horrible decision — not only was it blisteringly hot, but most of the good shops and restaurants were closed in Paris, it being August and all. It was my first time traveling alone, and I remember really, really enjoying the silence and the chance to empty my head. I remember that when the Blackout of 2003 happened, I was in a Paris hotel room watching the TV news, telling me that my brother in NYC (then in the midst of interview week for his law school), my mother in Cleveland, and my father — in Detroit on business — were all without power. Once I got back to America I spent a few weeks in Ohio with my parents, friends and family there, and then moved to NYC officially, where I had about 2 weeks to settle into my new apartment and catch up with NYC friends.

I remember the day the scores came out, also, huddling over my computer in the early morning hours and feeling vindication when I saw my name.  Take that, gray hairs, I said to myself.  That day at work, my fellow first years and I whispered our relief to one another until we ascertained that everyone had passed, and then the excited buzz grew to a more jovial mood.  That night, it was like our summer all over again — all 50 of us went out to celebrate together.

Readers with JDs, what was your bar exam experience like?  Where did you go on your bar trip?

Comments

  1. SF Bay Associate :

    CA bar takers aren’t done until Thursday. Stay strong!

    • Same for Texas – hang in there ladies!

      • yes! i was just about to say this. the ca bar is THREE LONG DAYS and even though i’ve taken it and passed, i nearly fainted when i saw kat congratulating people on finishing. i remember on monday, i sent a text to all my friends (a lot of them were taking 2 day bars because i went to law school in boston) warning them that i was not done until THURSDAY and i did not want to hear from them until then.

        • Barrister in the Bayou :

          I took the Louisiana Bar which is mostly essay with no MBE component. It is three full days long (MWF). I have some friends sitting through it right now and just the thought of it makes me shudder (I sat last July).

          • Arpent Noir :

            did they tell you that the examiners dropped a completely different test on us? I’d cry if it wasn’t so funny that we get to be the guinea pigs for the committee’s animosity towards BarBri.

      • There is a Silver Lining – benefit to the bar exam. I met my husband Larry when I took the bar, and we are now expecting our 2nd Child!!!!!

    • MA isn’t over yet either

    • I remember this too. This is going back 15 years now, but I also remember drinking alot after the exam, and waking up in some dumb dufuses’ apartment who had bought me 3 Bloody Mary’s the night before at the Zanzibar! What a summer!

  2. I took the bar exam on my birthday a whole bunch of years ago. Probably the worst birthday other than my 16th which, like the movie, my parents forgot. Oh well – that’s the problem with summer birthdays. At least my niece was born on my birthday so she is helping to replace those painful memories of sitting for the bar exam. Good luck to all the soon to be lawyers today!

  3. I took the bar the same year you did Kat! I was having a spa day with a friend when the blackout happened. That was my treat to myself after surviving the NY and the CT bar. Thankfully we had just finished all of our treatments when the power went off!

    And that is really the only thing I remember about the summer I took the bar exam!

  4. Georgiana Starlington :

    I’m one of those annoying people who barely studied and found the bar exam waaaaay less horrible than I thought it would be. It helps that I took the bar in Alabama. It also helps that I am one of those people who is just comfortable with taking tests. Our Barbri class was evenings in a hotel in my hometown, there were 8 of us, I was the Barbri rep and thus in charge, and after the second week, we decided it was time to start drinking during class. Several of my friends were in the class and we made it fun. The exam experience itself wasn’t too bad – I was upgraded to a suite because of my dad’s hotel points, we had a half-day the first day so I got in a nap and a bit more review, I got a little tipsy the celebrating a friend’s birthday the night before the MBE.

    My post-Bar trip to Greece fell through (friend who had relatives in Greece was a victim of the Class of 2010 job market and didn’t want to spend money he might need for rent). Fortunately, we did a family trip to NYC instead (my first time there), and enjoyed several Broadway shows, shopping, and lots of touristy stuff. Then a quick weekend trip to a couple Cardinals games with my Dad, then I started work 2 weeks after the bar. I hated starting so early, but I had paid rent on both my law school apartment and my “grown-up” apartment all summer and I hadn’t taken a bar loan so I needed the money. I actually didn’t have many friends who took big bar trips…a function of the changing economic picture, I guess.

    We were scheduled to get bar results on a Friday in September, so a group of us booked a condo at the beach for that weekend to celebrate. Thursday morning, I got a phone call from a friend on my way to work telling me I’d passed. I nearly wrecked my car and dropped my cream-cheesed bagel on my suit skirt. I checked the list for all my friends’ names, and most of the day was spent Gchatting with friends to figure out who didn’t pass. Several beers at lunch that day, an unproductive afternoon at the offfice, a very drunken celebration that night. Friday we were all hungover and gave up on getting anything done at about noon and left for the beach, where we all immediately took naps to recover from Thursday night.

    • I also didn’t think it was as bad as expected. I worked at my firm and then went to class at night that summer. I also did my fair share of socializing. I took PMBR and BarBri and kept up with most of the work.

      I went to the test and it was the first time NY used computers. That was a hot mess. People lost bits and pieces of their exams. I hoped everything would be ok with my exam and it was.

      I went to Costa Rica with two friends for a road trip around the coutnry. Amazing!

  5. I have never felt as stupid as I did after Day 2 of the California bar. I went back home and crawled into bed: it felt like my brain was leaking out my ears. And this was after sitting (successfully) the exam in two other states! But California, man, that was ugly.

    I swore after Day 3 that I was never taking another standardized test again. It’s been 14 years and I haven’t broken the vow.

    • Day 2 sucks. I remember every question seemed to have two right answers. I thought I had surely failed after Day 2. Was so happy when I passed that I also had one of my drunkest.nights.ever. I feel for those taking it today!

    • After Day 2 of the California bar exam (multiple choice hell), I was pretty sure I had failed, but I showed up on Day 3 (which turned out to be the easiest day). At least a third of the people in my exam hall (Oakland convention center) did not bother to show up for the third day. Yikes.

  6. NYCMom of Two :

    I took the bar exam in the 90s–because on the blackout day in 2003 I was again walking down 48 flights of stairs from my office, in the dark, and walking home 80+ blocks, eerily reminiscent of 9/11 for some downtown NYers. I took the NYS bar exam at the Javitz Center in NYC. I don’t remember much about it (Pieper’s advice: bring a hoodie in case you end up sitting near an HVAC and bring your lunch because the only McDonald’s nearby is sure to fill up fast with a gabillion bar examinees that day). The July results come out in November. This is before they were available online–you got a letter in the mail on a Thursday and about a week later they were published in the law journal. I didn’t get my letter on Thursday (the night EVERYONE I knew had received them, and either drank to celebrate or drank to forget). Or the next day. Or the next. Stories of fat envelopes (allegedly with a new application) danced in my head (the theory being the fat envelope took longer to arrive). I bordered on… ok, was hysterical. And then (after calling the Board of Bar Examiners trying (and failing) to get some intel), got the notice I passed the next day in the mail, skinny envelope and all. Just late mail. What do I remember most? Not getting the envelope on time.

    • This almost exactly mirrors my experience. Rumors were flying with law school friends that I had failed. Miserable week. I don’t even remember the actual exam, but I definitely remember the feeling of panic when the letter didn’t come on time. I ended up having to wait until the results were posted on the website to learn I’d passed. Awful.

      • Oh – and no bar trip. Similar to some of the others, I was doing an unpaid thing while I was deferred and was definitely broke.

        Instead, I laid on the couch in a comforter with my dogs for the entire next day. My now-hubby came home from work that day to find me drunk, wrapped up on the couch, with a mostly-gone 18pack of BudLight (cowboy cold) on the floor, watching reruns of bad television. It was better than a bar trip.

  7. You’d think a decade between me and the NY Bar would lessen the Battle Fatigue/PTSD. But no.

    The Albany Airport Residence Inn: $200 a night I did not have.

    Thought I was taking the exam at the Pepsi Arena. Did a practice drive the night before. Looked at my admission ticket the next morning: Marriott. Biggest panic of my life.

    The three hours on the Thruway back to the city are a blur. All I can really remember are collapsing on the kitchen floor in an exhausted stupor and my then-boyfriend taking me for sushi.

    Spent next three weeks looking for my own apartment. Locked into a 2-year lease at exorbitant monthly rent. Started work in August. September 2001 pretty much sucked. Housing market took a dive. Still locked into 2 years of exorbitant monthly rent.

    My salad days. Aaah. So poor. So happy.

  8. I honestly didn’t think it was that horrendous, other than the fact it’s just so long. i did suffer on the commercial paper question, but I worked on the theory everyone else was suffering, too, so we’d all still pass. My most annoying memory was standing in line for the restroom, actually, because whoever designed the javitts center in new york failed to account for how slow women are compared to men when it comes to the restroom (I want legislation that mandates women’s restrooms be at least double the size of men’s).

    No bar trip. I graduated in 2010. Most of us were lacking the immediate promise of a BigLaw salary that is important for a really awesome bar trip. I actually moved to DC the week after the bar exam to start work (For a Congressman who lost 3 and a half months later. But I found a new job and got to move back to new york, so it turned out ok). My “bar trip” was two days at home when I went down to get my car from my parent’s house. But I just took a trip to Britain last week as sort of a delayed bar trip. It only took a year.

    • oh, and the results. that was actually more nerve-wracking than the test because they leaked a day early on above the law while I was at work. I spent about an hour in agony trying to decide whether to look. A friend gchatted me to tell me I passed, which solved that problem, but the other guy in the office who had taken the same bar as me did not pass, which made it slightly awkard.

  9. I took the bar exam while 7 months pregnant. It was not as bad as I thought it would be, but was not an enjoyable experience. Afterwards I met my husband at a local diner type place and ate lots of greasy comfort food. I then relaxed at home for 2 months until my baby was born! Then started my lawyer job and the rest is history!

    • anon-oh-no :

      i did this too, though it was my 2nd bar and as a result, i generally found the whole thing easier. i also asked to be put in a room with my husband, you know “just in case,” and they sat me right next to him. My first state did the same thing when i asked to be put at the same location in albany b/c we only had one car.

    • Anonymous :

      Wow, good for you! During the last trimester too, that’s tough.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      Me too…., although I only had 2 weeks before having to go start my clerkship. The worst was the NY bar in 2001 had n corporations/business associations, but the last question was Rule Against Perpetuities…… Was sure I failed but nope!

    • a friend of mine took (and passed!) the CA bar about 6 weeks after giving birth. How she studied with a newborn, I have no idea, but she did it!

  10. It’s significantly more depressing and less celebratory to finish taking the bar exam, only to look out into a vast horizon of unemployment. So, most of the people I know from my top-20 school did not take bar trips (2010) … we took whatever time we needed to come to grips with our situations, and then started sending out letters to volunteer places before we could land paying gigs.

  11. Maddie Ross :

    Ugh, I suffered through it twice. Once in the summer for one state, and again in February for another. The second time was not nearly as bad though — mostly because I already knew I could do it and because my first one was Virginia where I had to wear a suit. My memories of the July bar all include day one, where the air conditioning went out in the ballroom where the computer-test-takers were doing their essays. It took until after lunch before they finally let the guys remove their jackets and ties. It was torture! And to add insult to injury, the lining of my Ann Taylor suit fell out — literally — while I was walking in and pooled around my ankle. That was officially the last AT suit I ever bought. Like Kat, I also went back to my law school apartment after the exam and had 24 hours to pack everything and move for my clerkship. I started my clerkship 10 days after the bar. In retrospect, I wish I took a bar trip.

    • Virginia makes bar examinees wear suits during the exam?!? Why? That’s terrible!

      • Maddie Ross :

        It’s a crazy archaic rule. It’s explained as “you’ll have to wear a suit when practicing law, so you should wear one while proving you should be allowed to practice law.” Mostly, I think it’s one of those “I did it and lived through it, you should have to do the same” type of things and the examiners refuse to change. It’s really not so bad – I was too focused to notice. The funny part is wearing your suit with non-marking shoes, i.e. sneakers. Everyone looks ridiculous.

      • Betty White :

        And it has to be a conservative suit–no seersucker, no funny 80s pink suits (lots of jokesters coming from VA)–or they can turn you away!

        • There was at least one guy in seersucker last July! And a bow-tie too, if I remember right (most of that time period is a blur).

        • Another Sarah :

          I saw one girl today in a cordoroy skirt and a pink leather (!) blazer. So it all depends on which proctor is paying attention at the time, I suppose…

          • Katie in DC :

            Just finished up the VA bar exam this year. I wore a basic black suit with hose the first day, just in case, no one was sure how strict they were going to be about the “professional” attire; but after seeing one fellow examinee in velcro sandals and a cotton sundress, I figured I’d leave the hose at home for day two. Also, they changed the rules this year: no longer required (allowed?) to wear sneakers.

            Right now, I’m just glad I’m done.

  12. I’m a ’09 grad who moved to another state for work. I have a medical condition where I have to keep health insurance. I remember the stress of whether my husband could move with me during the bar summer (aka, would he find new work quick) or would he have to stay in old state to keep me on his insurance. He found work and we moved flawlessly.

    I took two states at once so I had the three day marathon. State one was held at a law school next to a beautiful park. At lunch I just had to unwind so I visited the ducks, rode the slides and the swings. Then I got a call (while still at lunch) from my husband that he had bought $200 worth of groceries and locked himself out of the house with them melting in the car. DUDE – I’M TAKING THE BAR!!!!! So I had to leave my house key with reception so he could get it and get back into the house and not lose the groceries.

    Day two, immediatly after the bar, friend and I drove to state two and checked into our hotel. Neither of us had studied for state two at all. We were going to do a hail mary pass for it. We both reviewed for state two that night for a few hours, studying the Barbri distinctions. B/c of my aforementioned medical condition, I was taking the state two bar in a smaller room near a bathroom. I remember my room being so much less chaotic. Other room was nuts and someone passed out, someone threw up, etc. Glad I was in the chill “special” room.

    The thing I remember most is not caring at all about the traffic after the bar. I usually have panic attacks in bad city traffic (see medical condition that requires bathroom access.) After the bar I was in a crowded car in traffic for hours and felt more relaxed then I ever felt in my life.

    When I got home, hubby had a bottle of premium tequila waiting for me and was ready to take me out partying. I took two shots and fell asleep and slept the best I think I have ever slept.

  13. My father very kindly paid for me to spend 3 nights (so I wouldn’t have to worry about checking out the morning of the second day of the exam) in a luxury hotel in downtown Chicago within walking distance of my exam site. It was great to be comfortable and in a relaxing environment. I didn’t bring any books or study materials with me, because at that point, I would only have driven myself crazy, and I didn’t even bring my computer. The night before the exam I practiced walking to the exam site so I wouldn’t get lost and then went to the gym, and the night between the two exam days I ordered room service and watched brain-candy TV shows. I had lunch both days with a law school classmate, and the night after I finished, I got a pedicure and a 2L friend doing her summer associateship in Chicago took me out for dinner and drinks.

    I passed, and I’m so glad I relaxed instead of endlessly stressing myself out until the end.

    • Oh, no bar trip. I’m a public interest lawyer and couldn’t afford it.

      • Suzy Borman :

        Same here. And I think that a lot of my classmates (’09) who booked these trips months in advance and then got deferred are very sorry they did a bar trip at all.

    • My dad paid for me to stay in a nice hotel right next to the exam site also! It was so nice not to worry about getting up early, fighting traffic and finding a parking spot downtown. It was also nice to not worry about meals, since I ordered in for lunch. I was able to just relax before the afternoon session.

  14. Associette :

    One of my favorite memories – of all time – was that my then boyfriend, now husband, walked me to my seat at the bar exam and then took his. We both passed.

    I didn’t take a bar trip because after three years of law school – living an entire summer without pay – and knowing that I didn’t start at my new job until September, I was low on cash.

    Getting the results was probably the most nervous I have ever been! I kept imagining the conversation that I would have to have with the partners if I failed. “So, I failed…what next?” Luckily, I never had to have that convo! Few.

  15. So, slightly different than the bar exam but for fun I’ll chime in on my general surgery oral boards experience, which is fresh in my head.

    We take a multiple choice test in August, and then if you pass that you sign up for the orals. Offered in 4 different citites at 4 different times a year, the orals are 3 30 minute sessions. They are at a very nice hotel in town (mine was at the Omni on Michigan Avenue in Chicago). After a brief intro session, you are given your assigned rooms. You rotate through three different rooms, each with two examiners, who ask you questions about the management of surgical disease. Not only is that aspect intimidating, but the examiners are titans in the field — I entered a room and thought, yep, I’ve read his text book.

    I wisely picked Chicago in early May, did a 4 day cram course in a suburban Hyatt across from a giant mall — I could have literally been in any suburb in America it was almost disorienting.

    You’re assigned one of several sessions over three days. I was assigned the morning session on the last day, so had two days in Chicago. I was planning to study but actually did very little, instead working out, taking long walks, eating good meals with a very good friend.

    My coresident took it the first afternoon, and we discussed his answers afterwards. I had a sinking feeling that he had made major errors, but didn’t tell him.

    The actual test was blindingly fast — as we waited outside our rooms to be escorted in, I made small talk with the candidates around me, but literally do not remember their faces. The actual sessions went faster than I could have imagined. At one point, I made an examiner laugh, which I thought was good, and at another I realized an obvious mistake and cringed audibly, which also made them laugh.

    I left, feeling pretty confident, ate some breakfast, headed to the airport and flew home, unable to concentrate on a book or movie. Over the next 24 hours, I became steadily more convinced I failed, to the extent that I couldn’t sleep and was sick to my stomach. Every micro-mistake I made took on epic proportions, and failure was pretty realistic in my view.

    Fortunately, the results were released at noon the following day, and I logged on and was delighted to find out that I had passed (pass rate is 76%, so failure is actually not unrealistic). Unfortunately, my friend who had taken it did not.

    Due to our relocation, my husband had actually moved us out of our house while I was in Chicago, but I ordered myself a new purse to celebrate.

  16. Anonymous :

    I got deferred a week before I sat the bar last summer — so I spent the majority of the two days trying not to cry and dodging questions from friends about whether I’d set my start date with my firm. No thanks to the firm, I passed the bar

    • That’s just mean – would it have killed them to wait a week?

    • Was this Quinn Emanuel? I seem to recall reading something about that on Above the Law back in the day and thinking it was uniquely heartless and unnecessary to defer everyone two days before the Bar exam.

      • My firm did a similar thing! We had to give them a decision re: defering until January, public interest for a year, or outright leaving (with a cash sum) during the time everyone was studying the bar. I advised the firm of my decision well in advance, HOWEVER, the day before the final decision was due, I got a call from a managing partner “strongly advising” me to change my mind. It sent me into a panic while I scrambled to figure out what to do. Needless to say, I didn’t need the additional pressure on job things while studying for the bar, and it made me very ressentful and anxious.

        Nevertheless, I approached bar prep with a “this is my 9-5 job” mentality and never studied more hours in the day than BarBri recommended. I still socialized and saw my friends and family up until the final 2 weeks. I honestly don’t remember much of the exam itself, but I do remember that I stayed in a hotel with a friend who was extremely nervous most of the time, which actually helped counter-balance me. I saw a movie inbetween the test days, and on the final night went out drinking with friends (still in my hotel). I was incommunicado with internet and e-mail when the results were released early my year, so I did not know they were released early, until a friend called to tell me I passed. So I got to skip the nervous checking and waiting. Once I got over the firm/work drama, it wasn’t so bad!

  17. I took the AZ bar last summer. I was relieved that the bar itself was much less terrible than the studying leading up to it. I had decided to drive back from Phoenix to Tucson directly after the bar because I just wanted to be home and done with it all. A monsoon storm started just as I drove out of the parking garage. Between the torrential downpours and a later dust storm, the hour and a half drive took three. The margarita I had that night was the best I’ve ever tasted.

  18. This isn’t a particularly exciting story, but it brightened up the bar-related misery a little: I stayed with family between day one and day two, but for some reason I was on my own for dinner, so, not wanting to be bothered with anything, I ran out to a trashy little Taco Bell/KFC/gas station off the interstate to grab a burrito. As I’m in line making my order, two cops come rushing in. Turns out, one of the cashiers had accidentally hit the secret hold up alarm under the counter. Whoops!

    Anyway, the cops, once they realized that nothing was actually wrong, decided they might as well grab a bite, and we stood around chatting for a little bit while waiting for our food. It was nice and not at all bar related, which was a relief. As I was leaving with my dinner, I heard one of the cops say to his partner, “Well, that wasn’t so bad a call. We got to talk to a cute girl.”

    Made going back a little bit brighter!

  19. This is an awesome thread. Two thoughts, both from after the bar. My boyfriend at the time (now hubs) and I had studied in the same town all summer (but separate apartments) and it had been a wonderful summer. We were both able to study in the way that we needed and supported each other marvelously. The night after the bar exam we went drinking with a bunch of people and go into one of the worst fights we have ever had to this day. It was about nothing, I am sure, but we were both so exhausted and wrecked that it just spiraled out of control. Tread lightly right after the exam, especially when you add heavy drinking.

    A few days later, while on a road trip, I got bit by something and broke out in hives ALL over my body. Over 100 of them. I had been so calm and organized before the bar, but I think my body was still in high alert mode. I’ve never had that reaction before (or after). Lesson #2, be gentle with yourself, physically and mentally, right afterwards!

  20. Not a lawyer, but this brings me back to the summer of qualifying exams for my PhD program. In my program’s structure, you take these exams for the first time in the summer after your first year. If you fail, you get one more chance (2nd semester of your 2nd year) before you are booted from the program. There is a month between the end of the semester and the exams. I lived about an hour and a half from school, so I had to get up really early. I remember calling my husband frantically on the bus ride to campus because I had hit snooze on the alarm rather than re-setting it for his wake-up time. I was so out of it. I also remember arriving to the exam site so early that the doors were all still locked (yup, I am that kind of person). The exam lasted two days. I had a party for my classmates after it was over, and then spaced out for the rest of the summer. We didn’t have a specific date to receive results, so I got a random email about two months later indicating that I had passed. Whew! It’s funny – the actual studying and test-taking weren’t that bad. But the psychological burden and fear of failure – that was brutal!

    • We had written qualifying exams after the first year. Not too bad, but I do remember a question or two that had the 6 of us in the room taking the exam (we were left alone in the department conference room, all sitting at one big table, I guess they trusted us) looking at each other like, WTF is this??

      At the end of the second year, we had oral qualifying exams that basically consisted of writing up a research proposal and then “defending” it in front of group of about 5 faculty members. I turned in the written proposal and then had some time to develop the oral part. I got so sick of the thing, I remember spending the weekend before that reading “Pillars of the Earth.” I read that sucker in about 2 days.

    • 2 day quals? Wow! We defended our proposals, then 2 weeks later were given a set of 2 to 4 questions to write essay answers–10 to 35 pages–on, due in 3 days. 1 day off, then repeat for a total of 3 cycles. At the end, I had about a week to pack up and head off for my diss research.

  21. A Regular Lurker :

    What a cute idea! I was in college in 2003 and happened to be in NYC in 2003 on a trip with my parents during the blackout. We had just purchased tickets from the TKTS booth when Times Square went dark. It was definitely eerie watching people pour out of their office buildings and to see the packed buses leaving the city. My mom figured we should buy sandwiches as quickly as possible, so we had a nice “picnic” dinner in Central Park before dark. Fortunately, our hotel was able to cope with the blackout and escorted everyone to their rooms by candlelight and used big, old-fashioned keys to open the doors. We fell asleep early because there really wasn’t anything to do.

    Fast-forward to the summer of 2010, when I was taking the bar exam: the night before the exam, as I was getting ready for bed and doing some last-minute cramming, the power went out. I was living at home at the time, so my mom French-braided my wet while I frantically reviewed flashcards by candlelight. The power was still out at our house the next morning, but fortunately there was not a problem across town at my bar exam site.

    I’d initially thought of going out to celebrate after I finished the exam, but I was just too tired and basically went on a sleep binge for the rest of the week. No big bar trip (2010 grad here). Fortunately, no blackout the day the results were announced. :)

  22. Preparing for and taking the bar exam – more than once – was nothing but misery. There was no money in the budget for a bar trip. But finally passing was amazing. My friends threw me a surprise party that started about half an hour after results came out, knowing that they might not even be able to get me to show up. And my mom gave me a beautiful bracelet from Tiffany engraved with the date I passed. Those two memories are among the most treasured of my life :)

  23. Yankee-Peach :

    My car wouldn’t start in the parking lot on the last day of the bar exam. Everyone was piling out of the parking lot and there I was. I had a brief moment of “Oh no, I need to study! Should I get my books out of the trunk?” etc. etc. And then it sort of hit me that the bar was over. It seemed almost poetic in a sick way. Trapped at the bar exam.

    Too exhausted to do anything else, I called AAA, talked to my mom for a bit and my best friend from law school taking the bar in another state. Then I tilted the seat all the way back and I think I dozed off because the AAA guy had to wake me up by banging on my window. After surviving the bar, I’ve discovered that things like a dead battery don’t freak me out quite as much as they used to.

  24. Lana Lang :

    I haven’t taken the bar exam, we don’t have them here in England, but we do have Law School final exams which are 5-6 exams of three hours each in the space of one week or so.

    I remember that both years I was so wiped out on the day of the last exam that I’m pretty sure I literally went home and went to sleep. Any kind of hard core partying was completely out of the question!

    Good luck to all the bar takers! I am considering doing the NY bar so it’s good to hear all these stories to put it all into perspective…

  25. Anonymous :

    I went home and slept. The next day, I packed up my entire apartment and my family and moved to another city, where I proceeded to visit museums and playgrounds with my 3-year-old for the month before my work and her preschool began. At the time, I was jealous of my friends exotic bar trips, but now, looking back, I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.

Add a comment.

Questions? Check out our commenting policy. Tech problems? Please report it to the tech team.