Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 8, 2020

States Say The Online Bar Exam Was A Success. The Test Taker Who Peed in His Seat Disagrees

Karen Sloan (, States Say the Online Bar Exam Was a Success. The Test Taker Who Peed in His Seat Disagrees:

Was this week’s online bar exam a rousing success, or an epic failure?

The answer to that question depends on whom you ask. Bar examiners across the country on Wednesday reported that the first large-scale remote bar exam in history went well, and that nearly everyone who sat for the test was able to complete it.

“Overall, the remote exam was a success,” said National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) President Judith Gundersen in a prepared statement that noted that only 2% of test takers did not begin their exams as expected, with the vast majority of them being no-shows or deemed ineligible by the testing jurisdiction. Approximately 30,000 people took the online exam, according to the NCBE.

Interviews with examinees—conducted the day after the test—show that most did not encounter technical problems that forced them to withdraw or prevented them from completing the exam. However, various test formatting issues, rules imposed to prevent cheating, and delays in getting into exam sessions made for an unpleasant and stressful testing experience for many. Some examinees also raised questions about the quality of the 100 multiple-choice questions used in the abbreviated version of the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), saying they were poorly written. ...

One examinee who took Pennsylvania’s online exam—and who spoke on condition that his name not be published—said that he urinated in his chair during the first session of the MBE on Tuesday because he could not wait until the end of the 90-minute session. Examinees were not allowed to leave their computers during sessions as a security measure. He was taking the test at his law school, and dashed off to his nearby apartment for a change of clothes before the next session began. (Examinees are allowed to take bathroom breaks during in-person exams.)

“I’m not embarrassed about it, because I didn’t have a choice,” he said. “One of the rules was, ‘If you left the view of the camera, you would fail.’ I was put in this position where I had to make this barbaric choice to either piss myself or fail the most important exam I’m ever going to take in my life. It’s an odd position to put an applicant in.”

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