Monday, August 5, 2013

Bar Exam Diary

I like to write. It helps me gather my thoughts and relaxes me. So I kept a sort of bar exam diary on my computer during the day before and days during the test. I thought I'd post it as sort of a glimpse into what the bar exam is really like. You can feel like you lived through it with me. :) 

Monday:

We're staying at a hotel in town for the next few days so I don't have to worry about traffic and the commute from Humble. I did a practice drive from the hotel to Reliant Center to make sure I knew where to park, etc. The gate attendants at Reliant were so nice. I talked to two ladies and told them what I was there for, and they told me exactly where the exam would be and one of them said "God bless you tomorrow!" So sweet.

The hotel is nice. I think I can live here and focus well for three days. It's really close to the medical center, so apparently they kind of cater to families/people who are in town for surgeries, chemo, etc. It's actually a good reality check. My life is kind of awful right now, with all the feeling like I'm about to fail the bar exam, etc., but at least we're not here for chemo or surgery. There are a ton of people who would love to trade their problems for mine and fail the bar exam instead, and some of them are in this hotel right now.

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There are other Bar exam takers here. I don't know them so it's hard to say for sure, but there are youngish people walking around looking stressed and scruffy and I can just tell.

I looked up the pass rate for UofH last summer. 88%. 26 people failed. So basically I just have to beat 26 of my classmates. Or maybe 28 or 30 to be on the safe side. Is it mean of me to think that way? Is it bad that it made me feel a little better?

Made Jeff quiz me on Procedure & Evidence after dinner. I was stressed about getting things wrong and he just told me "it's okay, I'd just never hire you as a criminal attorney." In the nicest most loving way. Haha. He made me watch an episode of The Office before we went to bed because "your head is spinning." So true.

I set seven alarms to make sure I got up in the morning.

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Tuesday:

I needed exactly 0 of those 7 alarms. I'm pretty sure I woke up every 20 minutes all night. At 6:10 I decided that was late enough to get up.

Breakfast was horrible and amazing at the same time. The hotel has a really nice breakfast buffet, but I just wasn't hungry AT ALL (nerves, I guess?). Plus the other tables in the breakfast area were full of people with their Barbri books open. Doing last-minute review or something? I made myself eat some eggs and bacon and yogurt for the sake of protein and not taking an exam on an empty stomach, but ugh I so didn't feel like eating anything. But they had these little mini lemon poppyseed muffins that were delicious.

Jeff kissed me goodbye in the parking lot and it felt like he was sending me off to be tortured or something. He was looking at me with this genuine face full of pity.

Arriving at Reliant was a bit odd. I only ever go there for the rodeo, so it felt weird to be there for something else. I walked into the convention center and it smelled like hay. Except there wasn't any hay. It was just in my head because that's what it smells like when I'm there for the rodeo. Ha!

Another weird thing... there were like 1000 people there. Probably more. All running around with our 2.5-gallon Ziploc bags of laptops and pens (the Board of Law Examiners is supremely picky about what you can bring in). Of course, I only know 200ish of them from school and a few people I've met through work, etc., so basically it was just a bunch of strangers. But think of how many people were taking the test, and how many hours each one of those people spent studying. And after this is over, the vast majority of those hours will be worthless because the bar exam is nothing like real life. If we had all invested all of those hours into something else... like Habitat for Humanity, or cancer research, or whatever, we could have done so much good for the world. But instead, we were all there, taking the bar exam.

I was all adrenaline before we started. And we had to wait through approximately 45 minutes of instructions, so I sat there for a long time. I kept saying Hail Marys in my head. And also I had this song stuck in my head. I think we might have sung it at church last weekend, but whatever the reason, I guess if you're going to have something stuck in your head that's a pretty good one.

We were assigned seats. My seat is awesome. I'm on the end of the row (I only have a neighbor on one side, so I can spread out), far enough away from the A/C vents that it isn't too chilly, and close to the proctors so they'll see me raise my hand if an exam disaster occurs. Plus (and this is the best part), the guy sitting next to me is brilliantly silent and still. No sniffling, no pen clicking, no leg jiggling. It's like taking the bar exam next to a statue. Perfect.

Anyway, today went ok. I know I missed some things but that's to be expected. Glad to have one day behind me (albeit only 20% of the entire exam). I want to bask in the satisfaction of finally finishing something, but alas... I've still got studying to do for the next two days of tests.

Oh, and meet the Katie Bar Exam Uniform: yoga pants, short-sleeved shirt, jacket, glasses, messy bun, and a necklace so I feel pretty despite the glasses and the horrible outfit and the bags under my eyes.

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Off to study I go...

Wednesday:

Today's our third anniversary. I feel like the worst wife ever because I celebrated this morning by making Jeff pack a lunch (I didn't really "make" him... he did it voluntarily, but still) for me and complaining about how I really can't stand eating big breakfasts and feel like throwing up (nerves? weird hotel eggs? the expired french vanilla creamer I used this morning in my coffee? One can never be sure). But this whole Bar-exam-Katie is definitely temporary and almost over, and I think he understands.

Regarding today's exam...

Uhh. Sooo. That was rough.

Whoever's behind the popular statement that the Barbri MBE practice questions are harder than the real thing - you, sir, are a liar.

And on top of everything else, the fluorescent light directly above my head in the exam room picked today to start flickering and burning out. So my miserable multiple choice testing experience was punctuated by the repetitive on-and-off of the light above my head. And given how often I felt like there was something intelligent in my brain, and then nothing, and then something intelligent, and then nothing, it sure felt like that stupid light was mocking me. I'm looking forward to spending another day with that mean old light tomorrow.

I ate lunch alone in my car because I just didn't want to see anyone. Is it weird that my law school friends stress me out? I just felt like I couldn't handle an hour of nervous small talk in between the morning and afternoon sessions. Instead I sat in my car and ate my PB&J that Jeff lovingly made for me (he put a sweet little note in my lunchbox too) and reviewed my evidence outline. And you know what? I got an evidence question right during the afternoon exam because of that last-minute studying that I wouldn't have known the answer to otherwise. So if I pass by one point, we can all say thank you to that lunch alone in my car. Otherwise, I guess it was worthless, but it made me feel better to be doing something seemingly productive.

We had a quick little mini anniversary celebration where we said "happy anniversary!" and exchanged gifts/cards. I thought last year's anniversary was pretty lackluster with Jeff being out of town for work, but this one takes the cake for sure. Here we are, both of us in town and spending the night in a nice hotel but we're not having one little bit of fun. Well, maybe like 3% fun. But mostly our lives are just consumed by the Bar exam. Me with studying and stressing, and Jeff with occupying himself somehow and attempting to make sure I'm eating and sleeping when I should. He's a good husband like that. He's picking up Chipotle for dinner.

Anyway. Another day down. Tonight's my last night of bar studying (well, assuming I don't fail and have to take it again in February), which is nice I suppose. Tomorrow's gonna be brutal. I hate the bar exam.

Thursday:

Another day, another bar exam segment. So sick of this. I stayed up pretty late last night reviewing and went to bed around 2:00am. I know you're supposed to get a good night sleep and all, but I also know what works for me, and it's more important to me to feel like I've studied everything I wanted to before taking the test. Plus, I'm not sleeping well anyway, so I was going to be tired either way.

My coffee cup at the hotel claimed the coffee gives you "dangerously high intellect." I sure hope that's true.

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The morning session (six essays - wills and estate administration, property/oil & gas, and secured transactions/commercial paper) went pretty well. I felt really good about it. I almost texted Jeff "rocked it. :)" at lunch but I decided that was too confident and ended up going with "morning went ok, business associations, trusts, consumer, and family law in the afternoon!"

I studied again during lunch. I don't know that it helped at all, but I reviewed my family law stuff (one of the topics I felt the least prepared for). As I was walking in for the afternoon session I was feeling a lot better about family law and I thought to myself that I actually felt like I had a pretty good grasp of everything except protective orders. Now, they could have tested on any of the 300ish family law topics, but guess what was on the exam? Yep. Irony at its finest.

Anyway, the afternoon session (six essays - family law/community property, consumer law, trusts/guardianship, business associations) was absolutely brutal. You know how when you're taking a test sometimes you get to something and you just have no idea where to begin so you skip it and come back later? I did that. Twice. Ugh. There were a few sub-questions they asked where I was just like "huh? I literally have no idea AT ALL." On the plus side, I don't think I would've got those issues right even with another week or two of studying because they were just things that weren't in my study materials.

I wish I felt a little better about how I did on the whole thing, but I guess that's always the case with any exam. For now, all that matters is that it's DONE!

5 comments:

  1. Yikes that sounds pretty miserable! Good luck to you in waiting to find out if you passed. I will have my PhD comprehensive exams in about a year that will be somewhat similar to this so I guess thanks for the preview? Eeek... But congratulations for getting through it!

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  2. Oh man! I felt like crying for you reading this! It sounds so intense - I can't imagine the relief you must feel that it is over.

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  3. It's over!!! And several of my friends in NC took the Bar in a show arena at the NC State Fairgrounds. Last year, the power went out during the essays portion.

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  4. Girl, this is giving me flashbacks! I stayed at a hotel that looked like that, and I'm pretty sure there were no people in that hotel except bar exam takers. SO nice that you had a quiet neighbor during the exam. Nothing is more distracting than someone with some noisy nervous habit! I love how you have an oil and gas question in Texas-- of course. :)

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  5. Very interesting article for read.The nice post for sharing..criminal law

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