Around this time of the year, a certain number of people disappears from social circles for about two to three months. I've been there when I sat for the 2008 New York Bar exam. Studying and sitting for the bar exam is a challenging and stressful process. It can be sad or it can be satiric. I choose the later, and in honor of the upcoming bar examination study period, I decided to share my experience and this is my story.
I studied, and oh boy, did I study. Needless to say, I was exhausted from 3 years of law school. The week before my law school graduation I started the Bar Bri course. Usually, the process of studying for the bar begins way before the graduation date.
In February, I took PMBR multiple choice course. I lost my precious 3 weekends of catching up on sleep and homework in addition to writing papers and job applications. After playing the catch up, the mid-term time approached. Time was of an essence and graduation approached. Here I am, walking the graduation walk with my 2008 classmate and my friend decided to propose to his girlfriend that morning. Hey, wasn’t it supposed to be my day? Still, I was very happy for them!
Studying was a blur of 15 hour days following with little sleep. Since my first language is Russian, I studied extra hard. The ginormous Vermont ants seemed to really like me being still for hours while I took my timed questions and essays (my close friends know how much I hate insects near me but that’s another story). Then, my landlord of 3 years seemed to lose all the love for me since the moment I notified that I was staying in my apartment during the summer (yes, I paid for it if you ask). The "new" and early a.m. construction and lawnmower making noises while parked under my window became part of the norm. The icing of the cake was my landlord threatened to throw my personal belongings out of the apartment as soon as I leave and trying to keep my security deposit in the end. (The magistrate agreed with me and ordered to give it but to me later but that’s another story). On a positive note, the highlights of my bar exam study were two horse-back riding lessons and a movie trip with my bar class.
The day before the bar exam I checked in the hotel. Why, just why, did one of the bar exam takers needed to sit in the lobby and study? I guess he didn’t get the memo not to study the day before the bar exam.
On the day of the bar exam, I arrived and was greeted with a few thousands of super-stressed humans like me. I got to my assigned seat 20 minutes before the show was going to begin. I was just about to get happy because few of my classmates and study mates were sitting near me. I guess at that point I didn’t need much. And as I settled, the drama began.
A woman sitting to my right asked me to switch seats because she was left handed and 'needed' my seat. She conveniently forgot to consider that the exam was administered on laptops. In fact, the entire room we were in was assigned for laptops. I told her I did not want to be moved. I offered her to move in the back of the room where nobody sat and mentioned that she should have taken care of it prior the day of the examination. Surprisingly, she wasn’t too happy with my response. You would think it would be the end of story.
Five minutes before the exam starts I left the stress room to take a breather. Upon my return and to my shock, the proctor was switching the numbers of our seats. My sweet neighbor had already put her sweater on my chair and had my stuff moved on her seat. I sternly told to the proctor that I did not agree with the switch and she quickly moved the numbers back. Way to go to start your legal profession with the lie dear bar exam taker. Later I found out, proctors were not even allowed to make switches.
The whole day of the examination, my bar exam neighbor would shake the table on purpose, puff, sight and move a lot. On the second day of the examination, she apparently made a mistake filling up bubbles in her answer sheet someplace in the beginning and filled out the rest in wrong order. She had to erase everything around 45 minutes before the end of the test. She violently shook the table for 15 minutes forcing me to lift and tilt my exam question sheet and answer sheet. This is the moment I knew that if there was an earthquake, nothing would prevent me from passing the New York Bar exam!
Written by Margarita Smirnova, Esq.
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