The First Time:The Exam:The exam itself was like any exam period, but all day for two days instead of just a couple hours at a time. You're nervous the night before, but you manage to sleep somehow. The day of, you perform whatever rituals you feel are necessary, take the subway(/car/taxi/walk) to the testing site, and join the crowd of other nervous test-takers. Once you're in the room (it could be a big empty box with tables and chairs in it, or it could be a lecture hall borrowed from a university), you leave your phone in a designated area with the battery removed, if possible (if your phone goes off, you're disqualified--this actually happened at the sitting I was at), and you pick a seat. You'll pull out your laptop (if you're typing your essays) or pens, as well as your 2B pencils for the multiple choice part, and, if you're on the laptop, you'll spend about five-ten minutes praying that your laptop boots properly and the exam software is in proper working order (it often isn't). Once you've gotten yourself set up, the proctor shows up fifteen to twenty minutes later (since you got there really early), and spends what seems like a year getting him/herself comfortable. Then, like any college exam, the proctor will pass out the test materials (an incredibly thin booklet, considering how much prep you had to do), announce the instructions and the time allotted, and YOUR TIME BEGINS NOW.Three hours later, it's time for lunch, which you may spend sweating while thinking over your answers from the morning session, or which you may alternatively spend thinking about all the money you're going to make as a lawyer! Just kidding, you'll be sweating for sure.After a one hour (or so) break for lunch, the afternoon session will begin and end in the same way that the morning session did, except the session will be that much harder since you've just spent your morning doing some grueling mental gymnastics. Halfway through the afternoon, you'll finally give in to the need to take a leak, and grudgingly step away from your desk as quickly and quietly as possible to piss away five minutes of your test time. The break from test taking will likely help you relax a smidge, as you realize that there's more to life than the bar exam. This feeling will likely last for about thirty seconds, then slowly turn into panic as you realize that more than half the time has elapsed and you've only finished the first 2 of 5 essay questions, and you're not sure if you even got those 2 correct. The rest of the afternoon session will pass in a haze of rapid typing, as you hope that the test reviewers will mistake the length of your essay responses for correctness. When time is announced for the end of the first day, you will be overcome with an immense sense of relief, tempered only slightly by the knowledge that you'll have to do it all over again tomorrow.Day two is much the same as day one except after it's over you will feel like a dirty raisin, stomped flat by calloused bare feet and baked dry and wrinkled in the sun.Prep:I took the Illinois bar exam in the summer of 2021. I prepared with the BarBri prep course, which is basically a two month full time course of study (BARBRI Bar Review full schedule here), followed by one month of self-study. I spent approximately 10 hours a day preparing for the exam during on weekdays, and maybe 8 hours a day on weekends. My wife reports that I was kind of a mess during this time, and extremely stressed out, although I don't remember much about it. This is by far the worst part of the process--it's really hard to grind through so much material, which is mostly rote memorization and practice tests. Law school helps you with figuring out how to analyze fact patterns and applying the laws you memorized when writing essays, but it doesn't really help you with the sheer volume of law you have to memorize for the bar exam. I basically read through the stack of books pictured above (not my image--found it on google) cover to cover and memorized the entirety of the book labeled "Illinois Lecture Handouts." I passed, along with 80.9% of the other test takers.The Second Time:I took the California Bar Exam in the summer of 2021. I again took the BarBri Prep Course, but this time I probably only studied 4 hours a day for the three month study period, excepting Sundays. Once I realized that the bar passage rate was something like 70%+ in most places, and I had a fallback option (my Illinois license), I felt pretty good about my chances. I spent 90% of my time filling out and memorizing the "California Lecture Handouts" and barely cracked the other books except to do a couple practice tests. It also helped that I'd been in practice for awhile and so was eligible to take the "Attorney's Exam", which only includes the essay questions, and not the Multistate multiple choice section (meaning I got to skip a one day of the three day exam period). The exam itself was much the same as the first go around, including the test-day jitters and self-recrimination (why didn't I study more! Grrrr), but once it was over I was pretty relieved and unworried about the results (though maybe I should have been more worried, since the pass rate for the Attorney Exam that year was just over 49%). Hope that gives you the insight you're looking for. Happy to answer specific questions in the comments.