That sound? Oh, just the bar taker’s primal scream
The expressions of panic coming from the Twitter feeds of this spring’s law school grads has reached a near-audible pitch as the days until the bar exam dwindle. Tweets marked #barprep, #barexam and #barstudyproblems have grown more common, more dire and in some cases, funnier than they were a few weeks ago.
Sentiments like “Please excuse me while I overreact irrationally,” “Cannot get enough caffeine,” “Just woke up from my second bar exam nightmare” and the common refrain “What day is it?” create a digital portrait of the class of 2012’s collective psyche. As with the classes that have come before, the challenge of memorizing and analyzing insurmountable volumes of information for a test that charts their futures has rendered them anxious, overworked and struggling.
So, why are they hanging out on Twitter? Call it social-media stress relief.
While traditional bar-prep experts recommend moderate exercise during study breaks (“Go to the beach, if you live near the beach”) and repeating spoken affirmations (“I’m enjoying studying for the bar exam”), many of this year’s bar testers are finding greater comfort and solidarity in the lamentations of their classmates, expressed 140 characters at a time.
Testing starts July 23 in North Carolina and South Carolina. North Carolina expects a record-breaking number to take the bar exam, close to 1,300, according to Fred Parker, executive director of the N.C. Board of Law Examiners. Based on last year’s numbers, Parker expects that at least 80 percent of the testers will use laptops to complete the essay portion of the exam. Laptop users pay an extra $125 fee.
Gayle Watts, deputy clerk for bar admissions and disciplinary matters for the S.C. Supreme Court, declined to disclose registration numbers for the bar exam. On its website, Supreme Court reports that 220 applicants will be allowed to complete the essay exam section of the bar exam using their laptops, for an extra fee of $115.50.
Most members of the class of 2012 are digital natives, immersed in social media since its inception, like 25-year-old Charlotte School of Law grad Jessica K. Battle (Twitter handle @yourJessicaK). She’s been in a BARBRI course in Charlotte for weeks, studying 10 to 12 hours a day. Twitter tethers her to life outside of bar prep.
“That’s my way of just letting the world know I’m still alive and keeping people informed of what’s going on with our studying,” Battle said. She said it helps to know that peers are facing the same ups-and-downs in their march toward the bar exam. It also helps her keep tabs on fellow law school grads spread out across the country when a packed schedule doesn’t allow her to check in by phone.
“We all told each other ‘Good luck! We’ll talk to you on July 26’,” Battle said.
Among her favorite Twitter feeds is @brosatthebar, which links to a Tumblr blog chock full of tidy expressions of bar-prep frustration punctuated by pop culture visuals. Click on the tweet “When I study alienage classifications,” and Will Smith appears, line dancing with giant space creatures in a series of “Men In Black III” clips. Bits from “Friday,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and scores more turn anxieties about botched self-exams and the failure to grasp disinheritance of issue into quick, funny sight gags.
It’s brilliant and highly addictive, if, perhaps, not completely genuine. The creator of @brosatthebar guards his anonymity and professes to be “a frat boy preparing for the bar exam.” But the rate of his blog posts – between 6 and 8 per day last week – suggests that he may have more time on his hand than the average pre-bar grad. His humor serves as a salve for desperate souls nonetheless, and his Twitter feed picks up followers daily – 338 as of last week.
“I honestly don’t know how he has that much time to post those,” Battle said, “but it does keep me from going crazy.”
Follow Amber Nimocks on Twitter: @NCLWTechTalk