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  • Writer's pictureTommy Sangchompuphen

Chew on This: Navigating Exam Room Rules with Ease

Recently, I visited the iconic gum wall at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. For those unfamiliar, the gum wall is a unique and quirky landmark covered in thousands of pieces of chewed gum stuck to the bricks. It's a colorful and somewhat gross testament to the city's playful spirit and a popular spot for tourists to snap selfies (yes, I took one too!).

As I stood there, surrounded by this sticky spectacle, I couldn't help but think about the rules and regulations around what you can and cannot bring into bar exam rooms. With this in mind, let’s explore some general exam day policies to ensure you’re well-prepared and stress-free on the big day. It’s never too early to plan!

While each jurisdiction has its specific rules, there are common themes across all exam rooms aimed at creating a fair, secure, and distraction-free environment. Here are some general policies you can expect:

No Electronic Devices

Except for the use of laptops during the written portion of the bar exam, other electronic devices are generally universally banned in exam rooms. This includes mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, and any other electronic gadgets. The prohibition helps maintain the integrity of the exam and prevents any potential cheating.

Clear Bags Only

If you need to bring personal items, they must typically be in a clear, plastic bag. This transparency allows for easier security checks and ensures that no prohibited items are brought into the exam room.

No Food or Drink

Generally, only water in a clear, label-free bottle is allowed, though even this rule differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Snacks and other beverages are not permitted to avoid spills, smells, and distractions. Some jurisdictions might allow specific items for medical reasons with prior approval.

Minimal Personal Items

Only bring what is absolutely necessary. This includes your ID, other required items, and essential medications (with prior approval). Keeping personal items to a minimum reduces the risk of disqualification due to unapproved items.

Dress Code

Dress comfortably but avoid wearing items like hats or hoodies that may be flagged by proctors. Some jurisdictions have specific rules about what you can wear, so it’s important to check ahead of time.

To ensure a smooth exam day experience, here are some practical tips:

Pack Ahead

The night before the exam (or even before), pack all required and allowed items in a clear plastic bag. Double-check the list of permitted items for your jurisdiction to ensure you’re not bringing anything that could cause issues.

Check Your ID

Make sure your government-issued photo ID is valid and easily accessible. This is crucial as you’ll need it for identification purposes at the exam center.

Plan Your Outfit

Wear comfortable clothing, but avoid items that could be considered a distraction or violate dress code policies. Dressing in layers can help you stay comfortable regardless of the room temperature.

Know the Rules

Familiarize yourself with the specific rules for your jurisdiction to avoid any surprises on exam day. Knowing what to expect can significantly reduce stress.

For detailed information on what you can and cannot bring to the bar exam in specific jurisdictions, please refer to the following links:

As the rules may change from administration to administration, always make sure you examine the most up-to-date information directly from the appropriate board of law examiner.

Just as the gum wall is a colorful but regulated spectacle, understanding what you can and cannot bring to the bar exam is crucial for a smooth experience. Prepare ahead, adhere to the rules, and you’ll be able to focus on what truly matters: performing your best on the exam.


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