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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Some Strange California Bar Examination Administration Rules

In preparation for the California Bar Exam, I looked over the Examination Administration Rules, Policies and Procedures. I noticed that some of the rules seem pointless, oppressive, or quirky, and I have reproduced a list of some of these rules below. All of these rules are taken from the form I link to above, and I've quoted them in the order that they appear in the document.

During the written sessions, you may bring only the following items into the examination room without prior approval; all items are subject to inspection: 
. . . 
2. Silent analog watches, non-digital timers and clocks measuring 4" x 4" or smaller; 
. . . 
4. Paper clips;
. . . 
8. Eyeglasses (no case);

9. Ear plugs or plastic material normally associated with the sport of swimming (must not
be connected); 
. . .

14. Cash, credit/debit cards that might be needed for the lunch break (you are not allowed to bring a wallet into the test center); . . . 
. . .

3. A pillow without a case; 
. . .

PLEASE NOTE: During the MBE sessions, you may not bring pens, rulers, paper clips, highlighters, back supports, pillows, bookstands or foot rests into the examination room. 
. . .

22. At laptop computer test centers, laptop computers may not be disconnected from electrical outlets or removed from the examination hall while the examination is in session, even if the applicant has completed the examination for that session. Applicants must wait until the examination session has concluded and applicants are dismissed before retrieving their machines.

To summarize: the State Bar of California seems very averse to containers of any kind. Wallets, glasses cases, and pillow cases are explicitly banned. This is a shame for those exam takers who have gone through all the trouble of writing outlines on the inside of their pillow cases as part of a plan to inconspicuously remove and consult the inside of the pillow cases on the day of the exam.

Students should not be dependent back supports, foot rests, or pillows since the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) prohibits those items for no apparent reason. I also note, with some dismay, that paper clips are prohibited during the MBE as well, even though they are allowed on the written portion of the exam.

I must admit that I am excited to see how far students want to take Rule 9's "plastic material normally associated with the sport of swimming," language. On his blog, Luis Villa wonders whether snorkles would be allowed under this rule. I have the same question about inner tubes.

Also, I found this gem buried in the rules:
Applicants must make a good faith attempt to complete each portion of the examination for which they are present.
Remember, the violation of any of the Examination Administration Rules may lead to a finding that an exam-taker has violated the rules of the California State Bar. So in case students aren't already feeling pressure to do well on the exam, this sentence means that it is theoretically possible to do so poorly that you not only fail the bar exam, but violate the rules of the state bar in the process.

Good luck.

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