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Preparing for the Bar Exam

This research guide highlights useful resources for completing your bar exam application, provides an overview of UNC School of Law’s bar preparation offerings, and identifies some test-taking strategies and tips for success on the bar exam.

Office of Student Development at UNC School of Law

Office of Student Development at UNC School of Law

Bar Exam Overview Session

The Office of Student Development offers two bar exam overview sessions for students typically near the end of the Spring semester for rising 3Ls and again in October of the Fall semester.

Contact Information for the Office of Student Development

If you have any questions about the bar exam application, please contact the Office of Student Development.

Academic Transcripts

Academic Transcripts

You may need to obtain official copies of your academic transcripts for the bar exam application. Typically, you will need to request an official transcript from each academic institution that you attended, even if you did not complete your course of study there. Be sure to check with each academic institution about their individual processes and fees associated with official transcripts requests. Remember that processing times can vary, so plan ahead! 

Requesting UNC-Chapel Hill Transcripts

Official transcripts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, are processed through UNC's Office of the University Registrar. You can place your official transcript request online, and there are options for both current and former students. Visit this website to Order a Transcript. 

The fees for ordering an official transcript from UNC's Office of the University Registrar varies, so please look at the fee schedule here

Birth Records

Birth Records

You may need to obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate for the bar exam application. Be aware that each state has its own process for issuing certified records, and it may take several weeks to obtain the documents. Check out the following resources for obtaining birth records:

National Center for Health Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control maintains a 50-state survey of links to Vital Records offices. They also provide brief overviews of the ordering process and any fees associated with requested certified documents.

North Carolina Vital Records (Birth Certificates)

North Carolina's Department of Public Health (NCDPH) provides access to birth records in a variety of ways - in-person, by mail, or online. Check out their website for details into each service option, but be aware that the current processing time for requests is up to five weeks. Also note the table on the website that outlines the specific information you will need to provide in order to obtain a certified birth certificate.

Court & Driving Records

Court Records

Many state bar exam applications will request court records, often requiring documentation of any special proceedings, guardianship, family law, civil judgments, bankruptcies, or criminal records. You will need to contact the specific court to obtain directions for requesting these records.

Federal Court Websites

Federal court websites and their contact information can be found via the US Courts website. It includes information for district, appellate, and bankruptcy courts.

National Center for State Courts (NCSC)

The National Center for State Courts is an independent, nonprofit court improvement organization that provides a variety of resources related to state courts. Their website provides judicial branch links for each state, providing access to contact information for state administrative offices, appellate and trial courts. The NCSC website can get you started in tracking down any courts records that you might need for your bar exam application.

Driving Records

Most bar exam applications also require certified driving records. Use the following resources to identify the contacts for various state Departments of Motor Vehicles. Remember that if you've lived in multiple states and had multiple state licenses, you may need to obtain these records for each individual state.

North Carolina Driving Records

North Carolina driving records can be obtained online, by mail, or in person at a local DMV. Certified true copies are $14. Note that online requests are mailed within 14 days, while requests made in person are issued immediately.

State DMV Locator

DMV.ORG is a privately-owned website that is not owned by any state government agencies, so they are not an official source. However, they offer a DMV locator tool that can assist you in identifying the appropriate state DMV websites for driving records. Use this website to identify the appropriate state DMV agency website.

The other option for identifying individual state DMV websites is to run a Google search. Make sure that the websites you access through this method end with ".gov" - indicating it is an official government website.

Fingerprinting Services with UNC Police

Fingerprinting Services with UNC Police

UNC Police Fingerprinting

UNC Police offers fingerprinting services to UNC students for $15 (credit card only; no cash or checks accepted). You should bring your UNC OneCard with you and a state-issued identification or government-issued passport.

Fingerprinting services are available Monday and Tuesday (if staffing is available) between 9:30-11 a.m. and 1:30-4:00 p.m. Be sure to check the UNC Police Fingerprinting page or call ahead before visiting to verify that fingerprinting services are available.

You may contact UNC Police via the following:
Public Safety Building
285 Manning Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1600

Residency History

Residency History

Most state bar exam applications require you to provide your residency history since the age of majority. This means that you need to list each and every address that you've lived at since turning 18, which can be a tough task for even the best of memories. Use the following resources to help jog your memory and recreate your residency history.

Lexis+ Public Records

Lexis+ Public Records' "Locate a Person" tool combs through publicly-available information (including voter registration and professional memberships) to provide an overview of recent residency history. This can be an effective way to retrace all of the places you've lived since you turned 18.

IRS Tax Returns Transcripts

Another option for tracking down your residency history is through your federal tax returns. If you've consistently filed returns since you turned 18, you should be able to extract your physical addresses from these past filings. The IRS allows you to view past federal filing transcripts online, but you do need to register for an account to access the database. 

Google Maps

Google Maps is a great resource if you can remember bits and pieces of your residency history, but you cannot remember exact numbers or street names. Use this tool to zoom down into your old towns or neighborhoods to identify street names and numbers.