If you are sitting for the bar exam in 2021, there is a very big chance that you will take this exam remotely online. The COVID-19 pandemic placed the bar exam in a frenzy. Jurisdictions had to quickly devise a plan for 2020 bar examinees who were uncertain what their bar prospects would be. Some examinees had to still sit the exam in person, some got to waive the bar requirement through diploma privilege, whereas the majority of others, had to complete a remote online exam.
Were people skeptical? Yes. Were there hiccups? Absolutely. However, with COVID-19 numbers continuing to remain high, it seems that online testing may be here to stay for some time. So, let’s make sure you’re prepared!
Here are ten tips to get you prepared for the remote online bar exam this year.
1. Read and Understand your Jurisdiction’s Rules
It may go without saying but you should absolutely make sure that you’ve read the testing rules for your jurisdiction. By reading, I mean that you should wholly understand this information before testing day, as there may be some violations listed that did not exist for prior exams. Make sure that you don’t overlook the rules and end up failing the exam based on a technicality.
2. Know What Can and What Cannot be in the Video Frame
The online exam requires examinees to turn on their webcam so that they can be recorded during the exam. Although this may sound a bit creepy, it is necessary, as examinees will be remotely proctored through the exam software system. Therefore, examinees should know exactly what they can and cannot have in the video frame.
3. Know What you Can Wear
Although you may be taking the exam from home, this does not mean that you can wear your PJs or get away with wearing no bottoms. Remember you are being recorded, and your jurisdiction may have defined exactly what you can or cannot wear. For example, jurisdictions have restricted clothing and accessories that could block your facial features such as hoodies, hats, scarves, etc. Make sure you set your wardrobe based on your jurisdiction’s requirements.
4. Practice your Testing Demeanor
I strongly recommend practicing your testing demeanor before the big day. What does this mean exactly? Completing your practice exams under the same testing conditions defined by your jurisdiction.
For example, if you are required to sit with your face in full view of the webcam, practice by doing your bar prep in front of your camera. If you must stay seated throughout the complete test session without going to the restroom, practice completing an entire MBE test segment without a bathroom break. This practice will allow you to monitor your water intake, limit bathroom visits, and control the urge to get up frequently during the exam.
5. Familiarize yourself with the Exam Software Features and Requirements
ExamSoft is the online platform examinees will be using for the bar exam. This software has a very intricate testing process, requiring examinees to retrieve a password at the start of each testing session and when uploading their answer file and video at the end of each session. Additionally, this software can only be used on certain systems that are delineated in their minimum system requirements.
Before sitting for the bar exam, I strongly advise that you familiarize yourself with all of ExamSoft’s features and requirements to ensure that you are prepared for the day of the exam. The best way to do this is by reviewing these requirements beforehand as they should be outlined in your jurisdiction’s rules, and also completing the mandatory mock exams issued by your jurisdiction. Also, be sure to write down the ExamSoft technical support number, as you may need to use this if you experience a software glitch.
6. Use a Reliable Computer and Secure Wifi
Before the bar exam, be sure to check that your laptop is in tip-top shape to make it through the rigorous two-day process. If you doubt that your laptop will be reliable, then begin sourcing an alternative laptop for test day.
Additionally, ensure that you have access to reliable WIFI. If the WIFI at your home isn’t great this may mean getting it updated or completing the exam at a different location.
7. Select a Suitable Testing Location
Remember, you don’t need to complete the remote exam at home. Therefore, if your home has too many distractions, I recommend selecting a quiet testing location with reliable WIFI to complete the exam. Consider your school, a library, or even a designated testing location that your school has provided for examinees.
8. Know When to Upload your Exam Files
The deadline for uploading your exam files to ExamSoft is Thursday, February 25, 2021, at noon. Do not forget to do this or your exam will not be scored!
9. Prepare your Testing Space
If taking the exam at home, make sure that your testing space meets your jurisdiction’s guidelines. For example, if your jurisdiction requires that you have no personal identifying information visible such as a photograph or diploma, ensure that these items are not in your video frame. Additionally, make sure that you have all the supplies needed for testing. Don’t forget scratch paper if your exam is open note!
10. Practice Practice Practice!
Finally, and most importantly, continue to practice your MBE, MPT, and essay questions to build on and improve your testing skill and strategy. Complete as many questions as you can get your hands on, then rest and repeat until exam day.
Good luck examinees!