So I've returned from a lovely bar trip, ready to share my bar experience.
I stayed at a hotel across the street from the testing center. The first night I fell asleep pretty easily, with the clock alarm, my cell phone alarm, and a text message from my SO, all set to wake me. Unnecessary, as I woke a few minutes before they went off.
The test center was a huge warehouse, with giant ultra-bright lights shining down on row after row of narrow tables. People were crowded about and waiting outside the testing area that first day, naked pillows in hand (pillow cases being prohibited).
We showed our mailed registration cards; the applicant number was your seat number, ordered chronologically by when you registered to take the test (if you want to be at the front of the room, register immediately). There were about 1000 people in the Oakland test center. No one freaked out or harassed a proctor, that I saw. You become friendly with your seat mates.
The laptop program loaded correctly for almost everyone, as far as I could tell. I felt adrenaline, but wasn't overly anxious. The only internal lurch I felt was when the proctor said, "Proctors, please distribute the exams." ::Gulp::
They passed out the packets. We were told to begin. I opened the first page of the essay packet: ethics. As promised. I relaxed; it felt exactly like I was taking one of the Barbri practice essays. I had a watch, but I finished before an hour and then turned the page again: Con law and Crim law crossover. I adored this question. It was about whether the president had the power to create a law mandating businesses to respond to "national security requests" without a warrant. Could the president do that? Was it a search under the 4th Amendment? I'm quite interested in and have experience with privacy issues, and I genuinely had a good time hashing out all the arguments both ways. The third was a contracts problem, common law as promised.
At lunch my barmate didn't want to talk about answers, and that was fine with me.
By Day 2 there was no anxiety; I was hitting the snooze button on the alarm. Multiple choice, 800 decisions to make. For each fact set there was only one question, unlike Barbri. I found the first set challenging, the second easier.
Day 3, we were all prepared for the Civ Pro and/or Evidence with CA distinctions, which were introduced two years ago and had yet to appear. They were promised to us; they did not appear. Remedies, Property (tenancy), Community Property.
The Performance Tests were also shocking: each contained only one part. For the first we were instructed to write a memo evaluating our client's case in a false imprisonment claim. The second was applying an 8-factor test to determine whether a custodial interrogation occurred, necessitating Miranda. No closing argument + P&A, no combo anything. One question, both with exceptionally simple cases and files. Beautiful.
For each 3 hour segment I had plenty of time, particularly the last PT that I edited to perfection. The MBE was a bit tighter, but I still had time to review 20 or 30 questions when I was done.
They called that final time and we all clapped and cheered, smiled and congratulated each other. For so long you've thought about this moment, that moment of being done.
Overall I felt good. We'll see: November 21.
Next post: answers to the bar exam FAQs they never mention.