DALLAS – Law school graduates taking the bar exam in multiple states experienced delays when they tried to submit their answers on the test’s first day. The Florida-based testing software provider blamed a processing issue and said it had been fixed as of Wednesday morning.
Some test takers experienced slowness or difficulty in returning completed exams Tuesday to company servers using ExamSoft Worldwide Inc. software, vice-president of marketing Kenneth Knotts said.
By Wednesday morning, applicants were uploading the exams without delays, the company said on its website.
Knotts said the processing problems did not affect the exam takers’ answer content, and that all the state bars that had not yet received all exams had extended their deadlines because of the issue.
“This was not at all a system-wide failure. The experience was a delay and some difficulty” in uploading the files, he said. “At no point in time was the integrity of their exam files ever affected.”
John McAlary, executive director of the New York State Board of Law Examiners, said about 90 per cent of the more than 10,000 test takers in his state had been able to upload their results by Wednesday morning. New York extended the deadline from 8:30 p.m. Wednesday until midnight and was prepared to further extend it if necessary, he said.
“It’s the most important exam they’re taking in their life and any little bump in their view is significant,” McAlary said. “So we do whatever we can to avoid that and that’s why we will be addressing this directly with ExamSoft to find out what happened and to get assurances … to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Knotts said he couldn’t say what time the delays began or how many people in total were affected but said by late afternoon on the East Coast, the company was noticing extended wait times on its support line.
Knotts said the company is looking into what caused the delays.
“What happened today is not acceptable,” he said.
Knotts said the vast majority of users had uploaded their exam files as of early Wednesday.
The company’s website lists 16 states that extended their deadlines for submitting the exams. The Boca Raton, Florida-based ExamSoft also has offices in Dallas and administers bar exams in 43 U.S. states.
Test takers download the company’s application to the computers they use to take the tests. At the end of the exam, the file closes and locks. When the user is able to connect to the Internet, the file uploads. Users cannot make changes to the file after the conclusion of the test.
D.C. Wolf of Seattle took the Washington state bar exam with about 1,000 other people Tuesday at the Tacoma Convention Center, where they had no Internet access.
“I went back to my hotel and tried repeatedly to upload my answers and kept getting error messages,” he said. “I wasn’t worried in Washington because we have until Friday” to submit test answers, he said. “But some states had deadlines of midnight tonight.”
Wolf said Washington bar applicants had to pay $150 to use the ExamSoft program.
In Minnesota, Maggie Watson, 30, took the state bar exam at a convention centre in St. Paul that also did not have Internet access. When she got back to her hotel room to upload her results, she said she got repeated messages that the upload had failed.
“Once I did that four, five, six times, I thought, ‘What’s going on?'” she said.
Watson, who graduated from law school at Indiana University-Bloomington and plans to move to Minneapolis, said she took screenshots of the upload failures and sent copies of fail-to-upload emails to the Minnesota bar examiner.
Minnesota’s original deadline had been 9 p.m., and it did not get extended until after the deadline had passed, she said.
“Tomorrow is pencil and paper” for the next part of the test, Watson said. “I’m feeling better about that.”
Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin contributed to this report from Chicago and Associated Press writer Carolyn Thompson contributed from Buffalo, N.Y.