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Latest bar exam software issue worries some test takers

Many law graduates slated to take the bar exam just next week are now scrambling to secure older laptops after learning that the exam software will not work on certain newer machines.

ExamSoft, the company that supplies the software used on the bar exam, just informed examinees in an email that laptops running Windows and using Intel’s newest chips are not compatible with the bar exam.

The company said that computers with Intel’s 12 generation chipset, which hit the market in 2022, trigger the “automatic virtual machine check” function of Examplify, the software used for the bar exam. Those with incompatible laptops must take the test on a different device, the message said.

It is not clear how many people are affected by the issue. The exam is being given in-person at test centers, and the vast majority of examinees use laptops.

Marsha Griggs, director of academic enrichment and bar passage at Washburn University School of Law, said that ExamSoft should provide compliant laptops to bar takers with affected machines at no cost, and that individual jurisdictions should push the company to do so.

“At best, it burdens those in the final crunch of bar study to expend time and money on a replacement device,” she said. “At worst, it can be financially and professionally devastating to bar takers who lack the resources to obtain a new computer.”

Some bar examinees might not have enough time to fix the problem given how late they were notified about the issue.

The chip issue is the latest technological glitch to hit the bar exam. For example, ExamSoft in 2015 agreed to pay $2.1 million to settle a class action brought by 2014 bar examinees who could not upload their essay answers on time due to a software issue.

More recently, problems with Examplify disrupted remote bar exams administered in October 2020, February 2021 and July 2021. Last July bar examinees in multiple jurisdictions had their computers crash mid-exam.

An investigation by the State Bar of California found that nearly 31% of those who took the state’s July bar exam faced at least one technical problem, and 2% experienced a major problem that resulted in lost answers or lost time.

You can read more about this important issue here.

If you are sitting for the bar exam next week, we certainly want to wish you good luck!

Of course, if you have any last-minute concerns or questions about the upcoming exam, please do not hesitate to call or email us for expert guidance.

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