Bar None: The Hardest Exam in Any Law Student's Life
By Csaba Sukosd | July 24, 2018
Law school graduates, both recent and in years past, have taken countless tests over the span of two decades during their academic careers. None of those tests came close to the challenge that keeps them from the finish line: the bar exam.
"Until you're in it and until you're living it and breathing it for yourself, no one can prepare you for what it is," said Yvonne Twiss, director of bar services at Capital University Law School.
According to Twiss, the school starts prepping their students for the bar exam at the start of their final year. Once they graduate, students enter two intensive months of preparing for the three days of testing.
"Law school is like a marathon and when you finish the marathon, immediately they ask you to do a triathlon," said Thomas Spyker, who graduated from Capital University Law School in the spring and is taking the bar exam this week.
Twiss, a Capital alum who passed the bar in 1998, compared the exam to another long and exhausting endeavor.
"Taking the bar exam is a little like birthing a baby," Twiss said.
She should know. She was pregnant with her first child while studying for the bar 20 years ago.
"You'll never understand it until you've joined the fraternity of those of us who've lived it."
Some students say they spend anywhere from eight to 16 hours a day typing rule statements, mastering memorization, doing practice essays, answering multiple choice questions, and whatever else they can cram.
"It's definitely with you from the moment you get out of bed to the moment you go to bed for a two-month period," Spyker said.
As for the process, some prefer a solo approach in their studies. While others tackle it in groups or pair up, like Spyker.
"For me, the biggest help is that I have one person that I study with, and we've studied together the entire four years of law school. We know each other. It's routine. We can finish each other's sentences," he said.
While emotions will inevitably flicker, Twiss is always there for her students.
"I have a box of Kleenex always at the ready, all the time in my office," she said.
And for all the evidence of agony, the biggest highlight is when this chapter of their legal lives is over.
"You hear horror stories about the bar, but it's worth it. I mean, this is a great profession. This is a great thing to do. You can really help a lot of people with a law degree and a license to practice law. This is the price we pay for it," Spyker said.