First, the numbers.
> On average, I studied ten hours a day, every single day, for seventy-two days.
> I wrote 48 practice essays which averages to one-hundred-and-one-thousand (101,000) words typed in total. If it was a book, it would be about 200 pages long on 8.5inch by 11inch paper with single-spaced typing and 1inch margins.
> I answered over 3,400 practice multiple choice questions covering Florida and Federal law.
> I began my countdown to take the Florida Bar Exam from Day 500.
Second, for those who don’t know, here are a few easy facts to help the lay person understand this exam a bit more.
- The actual Florida Bar Exam is broken down into two days. Florida law is tested on Day 1 with 3 essays in the morning on random areas of law and 100 multiple-choice questions in the afternoon. 6 hours in total.
- Federal law is tested on Day 2 with 100 multiple-choice questions in the morning and 100 multiple-choice questions in the afternoon. Also 6 hours in total.
- There are over 24 areas of law tested.
- The alleged passing score is a 60%, however the Florida Bar does not share its grading rubric with anyone and your raw score isn’t an indicator of whether you will pass or not because there is a curve.
- 3,000 people took this recent exam in the same convention center room in Tampa, Florida. Everyone. In the same room.
- There is a curve to the score, which means that someone has to fail and someone has to pass. People who have had raw scores 60+ points above the passing margin dropped into a failed score based on the curve.
- You have to pay to use your own laptop to take the essay portion of the exam. The rest is physical on scantrons.
- You cannot sit for the Florida Bar Examination without graduating with a Doctor of Jurisprudence (or a recognized equivalent) from a law school.
- No matter how good or bad you feel, there is no way to know you pass until they tell you two months later in September.
- People who don’t understand, accept, or respect how serious this endeavor is will most likely abandon you for being busy. Let them leave and do not let them come back when you are successful.
With all that said, if you asked me if I went mad during my studies for this exam, the answer is that we all did. Many of us will not talk about it. Most won’t other than to answer technical questions.
It’s partly because it is finally (and hopefully forever) over; partly due to the uniqueness of the experience; and partly because it’s triggering.
Taking a test should be just taking a test, and it certainly will never be comparable to a doctor’s diagnosis or the passing of a loved one. But there have been many days where I saw my colleagues, my friends, cry or have a manic episode.
Panic attacks, hospital issues, new medications and prescriptions.
I write to those still reading this today to talk about a lighter but vulnerable experience of my own and thus, this written work will have no pictures, no images, no illustrations as they will fail to explain what these couple of months have been for Bar takers in Florida (and across the United States).
It is anyone’s guess what day it was, but it was the week that the most recent updates to my law school’s walls of fame were taking place.
With gratitude, blessings, and hard fucking work, my own face went up on those walls.
One for being a graduate, another for being an associate editor, one for being a managing & executive editor, and another for earning general student recognition.
In one of the halls with my face, I sat atop the steps leading to the floor below. I looked at all the faces that had come before me, and with me.
I had slept only a few hours due to my recurring dreams about legal arguments and irrational catastrophes. Only a few minutes prior had I finished another essay. Four more pages and two-thousand more words in my “book.”
And I just cried. Something I am normally unable to do.
My smiling face on the wall watching me frown and feel the weight come at once. But it wasn’t failing I was scared of in that moment.
It was a reality of the cost.
Don’t get me wrong, I ate as well as I could, I went to the gym and called my family. I firmly believe that the pros outweigh the cons.
But in that moment, all I could feel was my brain swell as I grew with anger at the barbarity of this experience.
I thought of the cost to get into law school, to fight for good grades, internships, and leadership roles as a now first-generation law graduate.
I thought of the people who died, the people who flunked, the people who were expelled. Even a study buddy from my first-year committed a double-murder-then-suicide this spring.
And now, as my colleagues and I reenter the world and regain our thoughts, feelings, and hobbies; as we make amends with those who missed us and reflect on how we came to find ourselves where we are…
…it is the journey that reveals the most.
I hope I pass the Bar, because I sure worked for it. And I know that the only way I didn’t is if the Bar beat me at my best. So, thank you for reading. And as my career hangs in limbo for the next two months, I leave you with…my relentlessness.
Update — September 18, 2023: I passed the Bar Exam. And tomorrow, I swear-in.
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