Virginia Bar Exam Software Fail? I feel really bad for this July 2008 Exam Taker

October 23rd, 2009

From NY Personal Injury Blog, H/T ATL:

Virginia apparently fouled up the July 2008 exam. The problem is simple:

  1. There was a software glitch during the test regarding the essays that were typed on laptops; and
  2. Virginia doesn’t permit test-takers to see their essays.

What follows is an affidavit from Jon Bolls, who is chronicling his fight through the courts to see his essay answers after he and others were victims of a software problem. The affidavit below describes the problem. (And if you think bar examiners can’t be beat, read this.)

According to Bolls, 43 states allow for some form of transparency. Virginia is not one of them. And over half now allow typing essays on laptops.

And the question for bar takers in the face of multiple technology problems comes down to this: Is pen and paper better than the keyboard? Proceed at your own risk…

I remember during the Bar many students raised their hands, complaining of computer problems. I remember, mainly because I raised my hand.

I did something really stupid that was totally my fault. Question 1 had 5 or 6 parts. Accidentally, I put the answer to Question 1.a in the window for Question 1, the answer to question 1.b in the window for Question 2, and so on. I realized it by the time I got to Question 1.e, and I was typing in the window for Question 5. Unfortunately Virginia does not allow you to cut and paste. Rather than retyping my answer, I wrote detailed instructions to the graders of how to read my exam, and typed the remainder of the bar exam in the last window. After the exam, in extreme detail, I explained to the tech support people what I did. They wrote down my comments, noted my exam number, and said they would tell the examiners. Out of precaution, I told the same story to 3 separate tech support people, in the event one of them messed up. I was not going to take a risk with this.

But,  I do know some exam takers, who actually *retyped* answers into the correct window. I can’t imagine how much time they wasted doing this. And on the exam, time is scarce. I am not sure why I should be rewarded for being a screwup, and people who put their answers into the correct place should be penalized. Alas.

Well, I passed. But if I didn’t I wonder how concerned I would have been that they did not correctly read my essays.