Friday, August 1, 2014

"Barmageddon" and Other Post Bar Exam Musings…

Most of you have likely heard about the nationwide ExamSoft malfunction that occurred during the administration of the bar exam this week.  If not, as you can imagine, ExamSoft did not perform as expected and many bar exam takers were left with error messages when they tried to upload their bar exams.  Above the Law even collected tweets from infuriated bar applicants and compiled them on their blog.  Take a look, my favorite is the one referencing the Titanic. 

While rational minds realize that this software snafu is not a catastrophic event (since uploading can happen once the system is not being overtaxed), bar applicants are not rational.  Applicants who are sitting for the bar exam are at peak performance; but, they are also at the pinnacle of stress.  Anything can set them off.  Some examples from this week include:  the temperature of the room (in WA it was like the icebergs in Titanic); toe tapping from a tablemate; bad breath wafting from a tablemate (yuck); shortened lunch break on MBE day; not being able to take highlighters into the exam; a cluster of sobbing test takers during the MBE day; and (my favorite) a driver’s license accidentally being flushed down the toilet.  None of these situations led to permanent bodily harm, but some left scars on test takers psyches.

If you took the bar exam, you can somewhat relate to what these examinees went through this week.  However, I find that once there is distance from one’s bar exam experience, an individual is likely to brush off its intensity.  Since I feel as if I go through, at least some of, the rigors of this exam twice a year, I do have a soft spot when I hear about anything that may have messed with an applicant’s mojo.  As we know, there is a bit of mojo required for bar passage.

 Luckily in Washington, bar applicants have a few days to upload their essays and PTs; so, many of my students were not adversely affected by the ExamSoft debacle.  However, I will add “Barmageddon” to the numerous other stories that I have accumulated over the years.  There is one when the earthquake happened in 2001 (and the examiners called out "keep working" as students climbed under their tables), the one where someone went into labor during the test, and the one where a student threw up on their exam (toe tapping is fine in comparison)…  I will share these stories and a few others with my future students so that no matter what happens, they will “keep calm and carry on” when it is turn in the hot seat.

Lisa Bove Young

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