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Processing issue delays bar exam submissions

DALLAS — Florida-based testing software provider ExamSoft Worldwide Inc. said a processing issue has caused delays for bar exam takers in multiple states who were submitting their answers.

Some test takers experienced slowness or difficulty in returning completed exams Tuesday to company servers using company software, vice president of marketing Kenneth Knotts said early Wednesday.

He said the “processing issue” did not impact 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.”

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 and hopes to have an answer by later Wednesday morning.

“What happened today is not acceptable,” he said.

Knotts said the vast majority of users had uploaded their exam files as of early Wednesday and added that the company is working to resolve the issue completely.

The company’s website lists 15 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 center 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.”

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