Paul L. Caron

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Will October's Online Bar Exams Implode For The 30,000 Takers? Why Aren't More States Offering Software 'Stress Tests'?

Karen Sloan (, Will October's Online Bar Exams Implode? Takers Request 'Stress Tests' to Find Out:

Upwards of 30,000 people are slated to take online bar exams in October, but virtually no jurisdiction is planning to hold so-called “stress tests” to see if the software platform delivering the test will hold up under the strain.

That’s a concern for law graduates like Melanie Blair, who is planning to take Illinois’ online exam Oct. 5 and 6. Blair is among the 11 examinees who filed a petition Sept. 1 asking the Illinois Supreme Court to compel the Illinois Board of Bar Admissions to conduct two live mock exams in the weeks before the exam to test the platform provided by ExamSoft—the outside vendor that every jurisdiction offering an online exam has contracted with. The court denied the petition two days later in a terse opinion that offered no reasoning for the decision. ...

Illinois test takers are not alone in their worries that the absence of wide-scale, simultaneous mock testing will conceal potential technical issues with the ExamSoft platform and result in a faulty exam come October. New Jersey currently appears to be the only jurisdiction planning anything akin to a stress test—it has asked test takers to take a mock exam at 11 a.m. Sept. 8, or as close as possible to that time.

But most other jurisdictions—including New York, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois, are requiring test takers to complete short two mock exams using the ExamSoft system at their own convenience. That will help examinees ensure that testing software is installed correctly on their laptops and will help them get familiar with the format of the online exam. But it won’t reveal potential problems with the capacity of ExamSoft’s system, the Illinois petitioners argued.

“While a mock exam may be helpful for becoming familiar with the software, it is not sufficient to uncover the issues that are reasonably and foreseeably likely to appear on the day of the exam in the same way that a coordinated, large-scale, multi-jurisdiction stress test would be,” reads the petition.

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Don’t see why there isn’t a short practice test that puts the software through its paces.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 11, 2020 12:37:35 AM