Trigger Warning: Bar Exam

Aside from being very anxiety producing for everyone, the bar exam can also be triggering for people who have experienced a variety of traumas. It’s important to spend some time thinking through a process for handling such triggers if you think they may derail your ability to perform on exam day.

People are harmed on the bar. There are accidents, assaults, murders, acts of sexual and intimate partner violence. People’s homes are foreclosed upon. People are wrongly convicted. People are discriminated against. People get divorced and lose custody of their children. There are a number of fact patterns that can remind test takers of traumatic events in their lives, and therefore make it difficult to focus on the task at hand.

As with all aspects of bar study, the most important thing is to have a plan. If you know that you will find interacting with a certain type of fact pattern to be emotionally difficult, have a plan for how you will work through it. You may need to get up and walk to the bathroom, you may need to close your eyes for ten seconds, you may need to take a few deep breaths. Your goal is to move through that section of the exam earning as many points as you can, so that you can spend more time elsewhere. Think about whether there are any types of questions that might be triggering for you, and come up with a plan of action.