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Where Should l Stay For The Bar Exam?

When planning for the bar exam, you have multiple important decisions to make. How will you put together a study schedule? How will you make sure to exercise self-care to avoid burnout? How will you celebrate after the bar exam is over? But one major decision that can be overlooked is where to stay for the bar exam. Since the exam spans multiple days, you need to plan where you will stay the night of the first day (and possibly multiple days, depending on your jurisdiction). You also may need to find lodging the night before the first day, if you are taking the bar exam in a location far from home.

In this blog post, we will cover some common options for where to stay for the bar exam, and things to consider in making your decision.

Where Should l Stay For The Bar Exam?


For most people, the default choice would be to stay in a hotel close to the test site. Some bar exams are administered at conference centers connected to a hotel, which means that you will have a short walk to the test site. Hotels are wonderful if you want a controlled environment where you don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors or other disruptions. If you forget your toothbrush or other toiletries, most hotels have extra on hand. You likely won’t have to worry about logistics like getting into your room; hotel staff will be on hand to help.

But hotels can be more expensive than short term rentals or other options (the staff needs to get paid, after all). And if you’re late in booking, rooms may not be available. Plus, you will likely be surrounded by other bar exam takers, which can be a stressful experience. You can book a hotel further away from the test site, although you will need to account for travel time and possibly parking too.

If you stay in a hotel, be sure to confirm the check-out time. If you don’t have a car, ask if you can leave your luggage with the hotel’s front desk, so you don’t have to worry about it during the exam.

Airbnb/Short-term Rental

Airbnb and other short-term rental websites (such as Vrbo) are great options for bar exam lodging. You can usually find excellent options near the test site. Short term rentals can be cheaper than hotels and provide a more unique experience.

When booking a short-term rental, keep in mind that you may face more logistical headaches than a hotel. What will you do if the keypad to get into the rental isn’t working and the host isn’t responding to you? You may also face noise issues or other problems in the neighborhood since many short-term rentals are in residential communities. If you go the short-term rental route, make sure to rent from a host with good reviews. Communicate any concerns or questions with the host before you book to avoid unpleasant surprises.


You may decide to just stay home and commute to the test site. Of course, this option only works if you live near the test site. If you are flying in to take the exam, you will need to book lodging. If you stay at home and commute, you will be in a familiar setting for the exam, which is ideal if you have trouble sleeping in a new place. You don’t have to worry about packing your toothbrush or other essentials since they’ll be right there with you!

But staying at home has its own challenges. You may be more prone to distractions, particularly if you live with others. Also, unless you live very close to the testing center, you need to factor in unexpected traffic or other problems for the commute. You also need to plan for parking at the test site, including backups if the main parking lot fills up.

Regardless of where you decide to stay, make sure to check out our bar exam packing list so you don’t forget anything. You also may want to read our other post on how to plan your bar exam experience. While you can’t control everything that will happen at your bar exam, it pays to be prepared.

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