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ExamSoft ‘Deeply Sorry’ for Glitches That Crashed Bar Exams (1)

Aug. 17, 2021, 5:25 PM; Updated: Aug. 17, 2021, 8:11 PM

ExamSoft is apologizing for malfunctions of software it provided for last month’s remote bar exams, faulting the process for coordinating and controlling computer memory.

“We strive to make the exam process seamless for exam-takers and the certifying bodies,” company spokeswoman Nici Sandberg said in a statement. “Unfortunately, for some July 2021 bar exam-takers, this was not the case, and for that, all of us at ExamSoft are deeply sorry.”

The apology comes as ExamSoft faces the threat of a possible class action lawsuit being weighed by the plaintiffs firm Sauder Schelkopf. Some test takers from the 28 states and the District of Columbia that used ExamSoft suffered from blank screens and computer crashes.

Malfunctions stemmed from memory management issues between ExamMonitor, the company’s AI-driven remote proctoring program that digitally observes test-takers, and the main software that generates digital images from 2D or 3D models, Sandberg said.

“Some exam-takers experienced a black screen, which required them to restart their machines to continue,” she said, and most then completed their exams.

“Roughly 1% of exam-takers required additional assistance from their jurisdiction,” Sandberg said.

About 41,000 candidates took the July 2020 tests according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners. That number includes many of the largest states, which delayed their July 2020 tests until last October because of the pandemic.

Some who took the test last month, which was held in most jurisdictions July 27 and 28, turned to social media to vent their frustration during the exam. Some said panic had set in. Others cited high levels of anxiety, given the importance of the exams to get licensed.

ExamSoft needs to do more to increase transparency, said Pilar Escontrias, co-founder of the National Association for Equity in the Legal Profession. The company could start by releasing data related to the last three remote exams in 2020 and 2021, including the number of technical issues reported per jurisdiction, she said in a statement.

“ExamSoft has lost the remaining goodwill it clung onto among attorneys,” Escontrias said. “ExamSoft acknowledges responsibility for failures, but does so without offering any meaningful solutions for examinees who suffered through yet another failed remote bar exam administration.”

Sauder Schelkopf said in a statement earlier this month that it “is investigating a class action lawsuit on behalf of individuals who took the July 2021 bar exam using ExamSoft.”

Though the firm—which didn’t immediately respond to questions—is seeking potential class case members, it’s unclear how many so far have signed on. It also isn’t clear which groups might be targets of the suit, including ExamSoft, the NCBE, which devised the remote tests, or state bar groups.

(Updated with comment from Pilar Escontrias.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at sskolnik@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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