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Virginia avoids bar exam software headaches

Regardless of their experience over the past two days at the Roanoke Civic Center, bar exam takers in Virginia dodged one extra annoyance.

Virginia does not use the type of test-taking software that bedeviled bar applicants in other states this week.

Some law school graduates in several other states were relieved to see paper and pencil Wednesday after running into a technical glitch that kept test takers from uploading the first day’s answers from their computers.

The Florida-based software provider ExamSoft Worldwide Inc. said the processing problem created a six-hour backlog that had been cleared by early Wednesday morning. The cause was being investigated, spokesman Kenneth Knotts said.

The Virginia Board of Bar Examiners does not use ExamSoft, said W. Scott Street III, VBBE secretary. The agency has “heard of too many problems with that software,” he said.

“We use Exam 4 by Extegrity,” he said.

The Virginia bar exam was going smoothly Wednesday, Street reported, with 1,377 applicants sitting for the test in the Star City.

Elsewhere, it was tense Tuesday evening.

Knotts said the processing problems did not affect the exam takers’ answers. But test takers said it cut into their sleep and the time they had to prepare for day two.

ExamSoft, which administers bar exams in 43 states, listed 16 states that extended their deadlines for submitting the exams.

“We understand that is a stressful time for bar exam takers, and their experience last night was unacceptable to us,” ExamSoft said in a website apology. “We will work very hard to repair the trust they have placed in our care.”

“It’s a pressure cooker under the best of circumstances and no one wants to have anything enhance the pressure,” said Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. “I know that there will be a lot of investigation following this to see what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

Test takers pay $100 to $150 to download the company’s application to their laptops, which they bring to test sites. Users are instructed to connect to the Internet and upload the file upon leaving.

The states extending deadlines were Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Rhode Island.

– Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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