At the end of July, I sat for the Ohio bar exam. This was my second bar exam, having taken West Virginia the summer before, so I had some idea of what to expect, but was still nervous. I experienced the same worries I had the previous summer. What if I didn't study enough? What if I didn't study this particular subject enough? What if I forget my photo identification? What if my alarm doesn't go off in the morning? What if I get sick during the test? What IS a commercial transaction? Will I ever know?? One thing I did not think to worry about, however, was what if the testing software fails to work?
There are two options for taking the bar exam. One is to write your essay answers longhand, in a lined-paper booklet provided to you by the proctors. With this option, you are limited by a number of pages for your responses. Most essays questions do not permit the examinee to use more than two handwritten pages. Additionally, the examinee is required to use pen. This makes it difficult to edit the response, particularly considering the strict time constraints for each question. As a result of these added difficulties, and considering that most law students today have been educated largely through typing and computers, handwriting is the less favored method for bar examinees. The other option, and the one utilized by the vast majority of bar exam takers, is to download computer software and type written responses into the program. The program is specially designed for exams such as the bar. Once opened on the examinee's computer, the software will shut off access to all other programs, to prevent applicants from cheating by using the Internet or their electronic notes and outlines while answering the exam questions. The software also keeps time on the question, preventing applicants from using extra minutes, or even seconds, to get one last word into their responses. Most importantly, the software saves what is being typed once every minute, automatically, so the examinee can use full focus on their responses. At the end of the day, the software will automatically upload the responses to a server once the computer is connected to wireless Internet, and the server will submit the responses directly to those responsible for grading the exams. Examinees cannot review or access their responses again, so there is no risk of cheating through hindsight editing. All in all, it is a pretty easy and convenient system. It is so easy and convenient, in fact, that most examinees don't give a second thought to it. After all, there is enough to worry about with remembering the elements of negligence or determining who is the rightful owner of a piece of property.