Bloomberg Law
Dec. 29, 2020, 9:32 PM

Calif. Bar Clears Thousands of Exam Takers Flagged for Cheating

Sam Skolnik
Sam Skolnik

About 86% of the 3,000 California bar exam takers initially cited for possible cheating in the online version of the October test have been cleared after additional review, according to the State Bar of California.

A total of 3,190 of the more than 9,000 people who sat for the biannual test in October were initially cited for possible rules violations by artificial intelligence-enabled proctors. That group, identified based on audio and video recordings of exam-taker activity, has since been whittled down to 432.

The initial revelation that about one-third of the state’s exam takers were being looked at for possible violations was the latest in a series of controversies resulting from the first-ever administration of online bar exams around the country, which included numerous alleged technical problems.

The initial review, confirmed by a state bar official during a Dec. 4 meeting of the California Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners, cited test takers for conduct ranging from having electronic equipment nearby to gazing off-screen. Professional proctors with the state bar slashed the list after a second round of review.

“Chapter 6" notices of potential violations were sent to the smaller group of test takers, while admissions management staff have been further reviewing those cases. The findings will eventually be affirmed—leading to sanctions—or denied, meaning effectively thrown out, bar spokeswoman Teresa Ruano said Tuesday in a statement. Final determinations will be made in January, she said.

The California bar exam was offered online in early October, as in most larger states concerned about the pandemic-related health risks of holding in-person tests.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at; Rebekah Mintzer at