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ExamSoft Crashes: Lessons, Tweets From #Barmageddon (aka #Barghazi)

By William Peacock, Esq. on July 30, 2014 10:08 AM

In most states, each day's bar exam responses have to be uploaded each night by a predetermined deadline. Miss that deadline, and you're completely and utterly [expletived]. Now, imagine how much you'd freak out if you tried to upload your exam, but you received an error message and your exam disappeared off of your computer.

And the ExamSoft tech support line was busy.

And the company was tweeting instructions on how to manually upload responses, a procedure that didn't actually work, according to Above the Law's tipsters.

Yeah. You really don't need this crap, especially on day one of the biggest test of your entire life.

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

Lesson 1: ExamSoft (and Monopolies in General) Suck.

I was fortunate to have never had to use ExamSoft prior to taking the California bar, as Washington and Lee's honor system basically allows you to take an exam wherever you want, using whatever word processor you desire -- no spyware required. What I do remember is that it is slow, buggy, and it appeared to have been built in 1995 (at least at the time).

It's also a monopoly -- nearly every state bar uses it, as do many (if not most) law schools.

Last night, ExamSoft crashed in a truly spectacular manner. Nearly everyone, it seems, was unable to upload their exam to the company's servers. Their response was a series of unhelpful tweets and Facebook updates, as well as a busy signal when individuals tried to call tech support.

Also, I'm no engineer, but if your servers are crashing under the load of too many exams being uploaded at once, this seems like bad advice:

Some called it#Barghazi. Others called it #Barmageddon. Professor Joshua Blackman compared it to Healthcare.gov and preserved this hilarious tweet:

Lesson 2: If It's Breaking News, Check Twitter.

Seriously, this is true whether it is a bar exam disaster or World War III: Twitter is the place for breaking news and updates.

Last night, if you were a panicked test-taker, you could have gotten a lot of comfort from Twitter. With that many people enraged at ExamSoft, you had to know there was no way the state bars were going to stick to their nightly upload deadlines -- otherwise, every laptop-toting bar taker in America would have failed. (In fact, eventually Examsoft had the sense to put up a page tracking each state's deadline extension.)

Also, the responses were priceless:

Keep calm. Press forward (and press upload -- repeatedly). And we hope you're having a much better Day Two of the Big Freaking Test.

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