Five DC Bar Exam Venue Tips
Five DC Bar Exam Venue Tips: As an applicant for the DC Bar you spend the majority of your time familiarizing yourself with the Uniform Bar Exam. However, it is important to also familiarize yourself with the DC Bar Exam venue, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Taking the time to plan your route, your lunch, and the venue itself will save you stress and anxiety the day of the exam. The following tips will help you master a small but important part of the bar exam, the venue!
Five DC Bar Exam Venue Tips
1. Know your route to the Convention Center
Even if you live in DC and you are familiar with the route you will take, you should practice it so you know exactly where you need to go. It’s important to get a rough estimate of how long it will take you to commute. If you are able to, you should practice your route during the morning rush. That way, you’ll know what to expect when heading to the bar exam venue the day of the exam. After you figure out roughly how long it will take you, give yourself extra time on exam day. The DC metro and DC traffic can be unpredictable.
If you have several options on how to reach the DC Bar Exam venue, figure out which one will work best for you. The Walter E. Washington Convention is metro accessible and has several public parking garages nearby. According to the convention center’s website, there are over 3000 parking spaces within a three block radius of the convention center.
If you prefer to take metro, the nearest metro stop is Mt. Vernon Square/7th Street Convention Center on the Yellow/Green lines. But Gallery Place/Chinatown on the Red/Green/Yellow lines is just a few blocks south of the convention center if you are taking the redline in and do not want to transfer just for one additional stop. Metro Center on the Red/Orange/Blue/Silver Lines is a little bit farther away but still within walking distance if you are totally against transferring lines.
Whether you decide to drive or take metro be sure to give yourself ample time to travel to the DC Bar Exam venue.
2. Become familiar with the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
The DC Bar Exam is administered in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center located in Mount Vernon Square in Washington, DC. It is a whopping building that takes up several city blocks and contains 2.3 million square feet convention and meeting space. Luckily for bar exam applicants, the exam is not in one of the gigantic exhibit rooms, but in the smaller (but still large) meeting rooms.
Before the exam, you should visit the venue. The DC Bar Exam takes place in large meeting rooms on the first floor of the convention center adjacent to the L Street North Lobby. Your exam ticket will tell you your assigned room. You can visit the Walter E. Washington Convention Center’s website and view the floor plans to find your exact room . There is even an interactive 3D map you can view to familiarize yourself with the convention center. For example, one of the exam rooms is 146ABC. If you select this room in the interactive map and select classroom style you will see the exam day set up.
3. Get comfortable in your space.
Each exam room is set up classroom style. Every applicant faces the same direction, sitting at long tables in rows divided into three sections with an aisle down the middle. There is plenty of elbow room for each applicant. You won’t feel too crowded exam day. Proctors station themselves throughout the room. Power strips are underneath the tables, with enough outlets for everyone. However, if you are at the end of your row it might be a bit of a stretch for your power cord. So, you might want to bring an extension cord just in case.
Only permitted items are allowed at your table. If you have a bag you will have to keep it in the back of the room. While this is not necessarily a secure location, many applicants leave their stuff back there. Only applicants and proctors came in and out of the room. No one went near the belongings during the exam (other than applicants who left early). In my opinion, there is not much of a security issue.
4. Double check what materials are permitted.
You will receive your DC Bar Exam Admission Ticket roughly a week before the exam, via email. It designates your room assignment. It also lays out the policies and rules for the venue. One of the important things to check is what materials you should bring each day. Also, familiarize yourself with prohibited items.
Some of the rules may seem odd and frustrating to follow when it comes to materials. For example, you can only bring water but only if it is in a clear bottle with a “sport/spout” tip to avoid spills and you cannot have a sweatshirt with pockets.
Overall, most forbidden items are obvious (no electronic devices, cameras, earphones, books, bags, alarm clocks, sticky notes, hats, food, and smoking materials). Other forbidden items are important to note as they are less obvious. For example, you cannot bring in highlighters or mechanical pencils. You also cannot bring in notes or scrap paper. Scrap paper is not provided in the DC Bar Exam venue. So make sure you get comfortable making quick notes in your test booklet if you need to.
The night before you should double check the materials you need to bring to the exam. All these materials can be carried in a clear plastic bag (maximum size one gallon). You will need to bring your admission ticket (you get a separate admission ticket for each day), ink pens for Tuesday (the written portion of the exam), pencils, erasers, and a sharpener for Wednesday, and valid ID. You may also bring the following materials in your bag if you need to or have no other place to keep these items; your wallet, keys, car key fob (only if it does not have a data port), hygiene/medical products, and tissues.
Probably the most important item you should bring on the written portion of the exam is a working and reliable computer with a power cord if you chose to not handwrite that portion of the exam. There are enough outlets for everyone, but if you have a short power cord you may want to bring an extension cord. You can only use a laptop, not an iPad or tablet. Surface Pro computers are allowed. If your battery runs out and you don’t have a power cord or if your computer crashes you will have to complete your essay on paper in a provided bluebook.
Also important to consider is clothing. Since indoor heating and air conditioning can sometimes be unpredictable in the winter and summer, dress in layers. But many of the clothes you would normally use to layer are probably prohibited. You cannot wear a hoodie or any jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt with pockets. Your pants can have pockets though. Hats are also forbidden. A good tip for your clothing is to dress comfortably.
5. Plan your lunch in advance.
If you are a recent alumnus of a local DC law school, it is likely that your school will rent out a nearby venue as a “home base” for alumni from your school and they may provide you lunch or snacks or at the very least, provide a place to keep your belongings if you decide to pack lunch.
Luckily, the DC Bar Exam venue is in downtown DC and near tons of places to grab lunch. For example, right across the street from the convention center on 7th street is a Subway. There is also a Sbarro attached to the convention center on L Street. There are several sit down restaurants. Since you only have an hour for lunch, it’s best to get food you can grab and eat quickly. There are more quick lunch options on H Street four blocks south of the convention center. Since this is a bit of a walk, you may want to utilize online ordering to save time. Cava on H Street and Chipotle on 7th Street offer online ordering. Time is precious during the DC Bar Exam.
You only have an hour for lunch, so leave enough time for walking, ordering, and eating. This may be a good thing to practice before the day of the exam. Not only can you plan out your DC Bar Exam trip, but you can treat yourself to lunch!
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