How to Dress for The Bar Exam
There are plenty of things you might be stressing over while studying for the bar exam. What to wear to the bar exam does not need to be one of them! In this post, we provide you with a few tips so that you are completely prepared when you go to pack for those couple of days. Make sure that you plan ahead so that you aren’t panicking at the last minute! You want this whole process to go as smoothly as possible!
How to Dress for The Bar Exam
Three tips for how to dress for the bar exam:
1. Check if your state has a dress code
The absolute first thing you need to do when planning how to dress for the bar exam is to check and see if your state has a dress code. Some states are incredibly strict about test day attire. For example, Virginia requires all examinees to wear court-appropriate attire. This means coats and ties for men, and dresses or suits for women. Examinees in these states should make sure they are prepared with the proper dress as the Board will expect all future attorney to be able to comply with this rule with no issue.
The vast majority of states are more lenient and do not require formal attire. (In fact, Virgina may be the only one that does.) However, some do still have other kinds of restrictions on what to wear to the bar exam. Kansas has a specific prohibition against any kind of shirt or jacket that opens down the front, as well as hooded sweatshirts. Others allow for hoodies, although you will not be allowed to put the hood up during the actual exam. Thus, it is very important to look up the rules for your state before you decide what to wear to the bar exam. You don’t want something as simple as clothing to compromise whether you can sit for the exam!
2. Pack layers!
Most of the bar exam facilities are very cold on test day. As such, another important tip for planning what to wear to the bar exam is to pack multiple layers. It is better to be wearing too much and have to take off a layer than to not be wearing enough. While taking the exam, your entire focus should be on the questions. The last thing you need is the distraction of being too cold. If you end up being too warm, you can adjust!
You know your body and your temperature tolerances the best. As someone who gets very cold incredibly easily, I ended up wearing both leggings and an outer pair of pants, as well as multiple layers on top. I then utilized the lunch break to evaluate how I handled the morning session and whether I wanted to remove anything for the afternoon. If you have a high tolerance for cold, then you probably don’t need to worry as much. But those of you like me that can be cold while others are wearing shorts should be prepared with multiple layers for each half of your body.
3. Prioritize comfort.
The bar exam is a long and grueling experience. Essentially the duration of a full day of work, you’ll be sitting in one spot for quite a while. Therefore, if your jurisdiction allows it, you should prioritize comfort when deciding what to wear to the bar exam. Skinny jeans with a tight waist might sound cute, but now is not the time to look cute, ladies. You really don’t want to be thinking about how uncomfortable you are two hours into an MBE session. Everyone taking the bar exam has a one-track mind for those few days. None of your peers are going to care how you look. There is no judgment on exam day. If you’re going to be more comfortable testing in sweatpants and a (possibly hoodless) sweatshirt, then that’s what you should wear to the bar exam!
On the other hand, some students feel more confident when they dress up. Do whatever you can to boost your confidence! However, make sure you still prioritize comfort even if you want to dress a certain way on exam day.
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