Bar examiners are actually duplicating their dangerous concepts for the February bar examination
The case-bar exam was not the full nuclear disaster that the lead-up to its administration certainly suggested. But while we judge Star Wars films by “well, it could have been worse,” a profession shouldn’t judge its admissions process that way. Frenzied examinees worried about uploading documents. Human biology forced people to stop the exam or to persevere in appalling conditions. By the facial recognition software, black and brown people were routinely told that they weren’t real people. California eventually reported a third of the examinees for fraud because someone fidgeted while sitting for hours. That “most” people made it is not an acceptable answer.
Although I think that people who keep wrongly defining “minimum skills” shouldn’t expect standards to be their strength.
Imagine my surprise when, after everything that happened in the fall, I learned that the UBE jurisdiction subjects applicants for the February exam to 200 MBEs, 6 essays, and 2 MPTs. In other words, they get applicants to do the job TWICE in February.
So … more people who can’t take the exam because they have to use the bathroom in the middle of the test. More and more people were classified as fraudsters because they changed their seat during the double-length test session. Further technical problems as sluggish servers affect the double upload of the material. Of any problem identified during the last round, extending the test only exacerbates the problems.
And for what purpose? Since October, bar examiners have emphasized that the shorter examination conducted in the fall was more than sufficient as a licensing measure. So you decided you were lying? If that’s true, should we have reservations about the people who passed it last year?
The correct answer is no. They knew the test was more than enough then and they know it would be more than enough now. It’s mostly theater anyway. Any credible request suggests creating a radically different skill test or, better yet, reforming the law school curriculum to ensure that every graduate is license-ready after earning a diploma.
How fair is that to the folks who either signed out of the frenzy out of October or were brought to their knees due to the test’s poorly thought out algorithms? As it stands, it seems like little vengeance on any applicant who dared doubt the October exam would work. Which certainly applies to a group of people who openly contemplated using the character and fitness process to get revenge on critics.
No doubt the NCBE and state examiners will find assistance in the crowd of boneheads who will point out that the February exam is simply returning to the testing format that previous applicants had to deal with. And that’s true, except that previous examinees didn’t have to take the test online with a battered test system blinking too many times over the course of 90 minutes as a fraud. If the conditions of the test are not the same, there is no justification for going back to the same old substance. The test has been shortened to online conditions for a reason and under all issues that occurred in October. Not a single one suggested: “This would probably work better if it were longer.”
For those of us who criticize the bar exam process and advocate better licensing practices, this move could hardly make the argument against that exam clearer. The content really doesn’t matter. It could be half as long or twice as long and make no difference to the question of competence. For the examiners it is only important that their own existence is itself justified. Everyone else is just a farmer in this process.
Earlier: Like COVID-19, the online bar exam is a disaster and completely preventable
If you menstruate or breastfeed during the bar exam, you’re screwed
The online bar exam was two days of cruel vengeance
Online bar exams are based on facial recognition technology and guess what? It’s still racist!
The California bar exam flagged a THIRD applicant as a cheater
Joe Patrice is Senior Editor at Above the Law and co-moderator of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter for all the law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also the managing director of RPN Executive Search.