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Florida Bar Exam Software Is Riddled With Tech Issues, Examinees Say
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Summary: The Florida Bar exam software crashes, freezes, and can lead to hacks.

Florida’s Online Bar Exam is a disaster waiting to happen, said the state’s future lawyers who are waiting to take the test next week.

A group of recent law graduates is urging the Florida Supreme Court to cancel the current online bar exam scheduled for August 19, citing issues with the testing platform. 

  
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The State Board of Bar Examiners announced last month that it would replace its in-person exam, originally planned for July 28 and 29 in Tampa and Orlando, with an online format on Aug. 19 due to the drastic surge in COVID-19 cases in the Sunshine State.

The Board opted for a software platform developed by an outside vendor, ILG Technologies of Missouri. But as applicants have started to download the platform, they say they are experiencing several issues from data breaches to damage to their device. 

Test takers are sharing screenshots of their experiments with the exam’s verification to raise the alarm of the software’s many problems. In one photo there is a chubby cat instead of the bar taker, in another an iced coffee. In both cases, the testing platform seems to approve the identity of the ‘test-taker,’ i.e. a longhaired cat.  

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On Monday, a group of bar examinees sent a letter to the Florida Supreme Court, urging it to reconsider the faulty software for administrating the Aug. 19 online exam.

The letter points out the handful of problems with the software. More than 45 test-takers downloaded the software Friday, and most of them encountered some sort of issue. Some reported the software froze their devices and performance lagged.



“Many applicants have downloaded the software, and some have identified issues of concern and provided substantive, and helpful, comments about those issues to both ILG and the Board,” reads a message on the Board’s website. “The Board thanks all applicants who have downloaded and tested the software and those applicants who provided substantive comments about the concerns they have identified. The Board is working with ILG on issues that have been identified, and if you have not yet downloaded the latest version of the software, there is no need to do so now.”

Test-takers also said they documented around 35 security breaches soon after downloading the program, including log-in attempts to email and social media accounts, bank accounts, and credit cards.

“ILG’s platform is apparently so invasive that the instructions require the user to disarm their device prior to installation, forcing end-users to give ILG unfettered access to all sensitive information stored on the device as well as web camera access, therefore potentially violating examinees’ rights to privacy,” the letter says.

In response to the complaints, the trial exam scheduled for Monday was canceled by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners who, in a statement posted on the website, advised test-takers who had not downloaded the software not to do so. The statement did not say whether the Aug.19 exam will still go on as planned.

Florida is among the handful of states that opted to administer their own online bar exams in July and August in lieu of the October online exam administrated by NCBE. Each of these early online exams has encountered tech issues. Indiana and Nevada pushed back their online exams to a later date after the ILG software failed multiple tests. While Indiana decided to change course and administered its bar exam via email, Nevada is going forward with an earlier version of ILG software that doesn’t involve live proctoring, as Florida plans to have. 

“We honor and respect the integrity and weighty ethical duty that licensure demands of us,” the Florida Bar examinees’ letter says in conclusion. “At a minimum, it is both reasonable and proper that we seek a similar degree of integrity and ethical practices from the entities who will be administering the examination that our futures rest upon.” 



 

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