Bar Exam Etiquette 

It’s been all about you for the past two months. There is no denying that you’ve been *slightly*selfish or that your friends and family waived the rules of etiquette so you could focus on bar exam prep.  Lucky for all of us, this is about to end. The bar exam starts tomorrow and you are not the only person taking it. There will be hundreds of other people in the testing center including examinees, proctors, computer techs, and bar examiners. If you are in a multi-use facility, there might even be other events going on at the same time. Let this sink in…


If your first reaction was to be ticked off, think again. It’s not about you anymore. You can be focused but you may not be self-centered or rude. There is a difference between the two and it involves social norms or expectations about how people should act. Since you’ve been out of the loop for a few months, here is a short refresher on the unwritten rules of appropriate social behavior:

  • Be patient. On your way to the test center, don’t honk or yell at other people who aren’t driving exactly how you think they should. Don’t get angry at the person reading the instructions. Listen and use the time to center yourself.
  • Be kind. This isn’t a social gathering but it isn’t a gang fight. I’m not saying you actually have to interact with anyone but at the very least you can make eye contact and smile at your table mate.
  • Be practical. Don’t over-react when something doesn’t go exactly as you think it should. No one is perfect so expect a few minor glitches and take them in stride.

When you find yourself getting irritated by the slightest perceived inconvenience (i.e., your table mate’s presence) and when you are tempted to act like rules don’t apply to you,consider doing some meditation. For example, if you just rolled your eyes at the very thought of meditating, you need to meditate.

Quick and Easy Meditation: Breathe in for 4 seconds. Hold it for 7 seconds. Exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat 2-3x as needed.

Yes, the bar exam is a high stakes test but that doesn’t give you license ignore the rules governing socially acceptable behavior.



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