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Category: Tips

Education after Corona Pandemic - College students wear protective face mask in campus, outdoor

Happy New Year! Omicron update… Bar Exam in-person? Remote?

 

Hello everyone and Happy New Year!

The February 2022 Cal Bar (and to some extent, the UBE) applicant pool are wondering about the impact of the Omicron variant on the administration of the February 2022 Bar Exam.  Here’s what we know:

The Cal Bar has issued four updates to its FAQ document since October 1 (12/1, 12/14, 12/17, and 1/3).  The updates have mainly focused on what kinds of testing applicants need to take to take the exam in person (e.g., as of 1/6:  vaccination by 2/8, negative PCR test between 2/20 – 2/22, or negative antigen test between 2/21 and 2/22).

To date, as of 1/6, the Cal Bar has not changed a syllable of its FAQ #1, which indicates that we are returning to normal (e.g., party like it’s 2017, in person exam, paper materials for essays and PTs, scratch paper).

However, the big question is whether the Cal Bar will indeed remain an in-person exam for February 2022.  If the Cal Bar decided to go remote a la October 2020/Feb. 2021/July 2021, when would it need to make this decision?  Who approves this decision?  And how does a student prepare with all this uncertainty in the meantime?

Here’s what we know for now.  Disclaimer:  at Cal I was a history major, not epidemiology, immunology and not public health.  And no, don’t rely on this blog post to your detriment.  Your exam, not mine, personal responsibility, folks.

The lay opinion from a history major suggests that everything around us looks terrible in terms of trends from the Omicron variant.  Examples:

  • Omicron numbers are doubling in LA county every 2 days per the LA Times
  • LA County is suspending criminal trials for two weeks per the LA Times
  • 8 UC campuses have delayed in-person classes and have gone remote for 2-3 weeks (for now).
  • My law school (UC Hastings) announced on December 23 that we were going back in person on January 10. Seven days later, on December 30, Hastings announced that we were going to have most courses on Zoom for 3 weeks, with in-person classes currently slated to resume on January 31.
  • 8 Cal State schools have delayed in-person education and will begin school on Zoom, per the LA Times. Long Beach State, for example, will begin school on January 20 and operate via Zoom for 3 weeks.  That means in-person operations will begin no earlier than February 10.
  • Requirements for return to in-person operations have intensified, not reduced. For example, students and staff at many schools are required to have booster shots, not merely one or two shots as appropriate, to set foot on campus.
  • More than 70% of coronavirus cases in LA county were among adults younger than 50 for Dec. 22-28, per the LA Times.
  • Rates among youngest adults (18-29) are 8x higher than they were one month ago. Adults in the 30-40 year old range are 6x as high as per the LA Times.  Guess what the ages are of the typical Cal Bar applicant?
  • The Grammy’s (an indoor event with a lot of people seated near each other for a few hours) were cancelled.
  • Sporting events have been postponed

 

That said, is Omicron less serious than the prior surges of COVID-19?  Seemingly.  Yes, Omicron is far more transmissible than prior forms of COVID-19.  But cases generally seem less severe.  Fewer deaths.  Hospital beds aren’t filling up as quickly.  According to the LA Times, Omicron appears to be “more infectious to the airways, but less infectious to lung tissue, where infections contribute to respiratory problems and death.”

And as reported on January 1 in the LA Times, COVID-19 patient hospitalizations jumped 48% from a week prior, but those 5,433 patients are a fraction of the 20,640 who were hospitalized in early January 2021, and the all-time peak was 21,938 on January 6.  Hospitalizations have risen most dramatically in the last month in So Cal and in the Bay Area (double the rate), while Sacramento’s count increased 30%.

According to Bob Wachter from UCSF, supposedly Omicron should peak around mid-January and then recede relatively quickly.

Note the recommendations from state and local officials.  Per the LA Times on January 1, state and local officials “have indicated no need for new orders closing certain businesses or mandating people to stay at home, but they have looked at bolstering requirements in certain settings for vaccinations or negative coronavirus tests.”

And the California Department of Public Health, really the final arbiter in our state on decisions about in-person v. remote events, announced a new order on December 31 that requires “those at indoor events with 500 or more attendees to show either proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test to enter. The order will go into effect Jan. 15. Currently, only indoor events with 1,000 or more attendees are subject to the requirement.”

In other words, businesses aren’t shutting down.  People aren’t being forced to stay at home (except for undergrad and grad students at certain California schools).

So… what are the logistics moving forward?

My guess is that if the trends continue that the Cal Bar Exam COULD be moved to a remote exam and not conducted in person.  That’s my guess, and that’s not informed by any inside information.  I think if the move to a remote exam occurs, it would need to occur between January 15 – 31 so that students can find places outside their home (if needed) to take the exam.  Living in a loud area, too many people living with you to realistically take the exam in a quiet area, internet not reliable at home, etc.  Law schools would need to prepare to allow former students to take the exam there as needed.  Etc.

The Cal Bar would need to consult with the California Dept. of Public Health (especially if the CA DPH forces the exam to go remote), the Cal Bar must make a recommendation to go remote, and ultimately, the Cal Supreme Court must issue an order to hold the exam remotely.  I hope that these entities are already consulting with each other and that a decision is made soon about what to do.  Students deserve to know as soon as possible if the exam is in-person come what may, or if the exam will be remote.  A January 15-31 window is responsible.  A Valentine’s Day surprise would be difficult to implement logistically I would think.

As a Bar applicant, what should you do?  Prepare for both options NOW.  The registration deadline has passed.  So that means if you’re taking this exam, you have an exam site.  If the exam site is in person, great.  If the exam goes remote, what are you going to do?  Where are you going to go?  Start developing that plan NOW.  Take the exam at home?  Going to a law school?  Taking the exam at a hotel?  Local law library?  Public library?  Figure it out.  NOW.  Don’t wait.

What about practicing exams?  For MBEs, take some questions online for practice.  For essays, you can get exams online and practice them online from the Bar’s site or my stie.  Same with the PTs.

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Have plans for in-person vs. remote about where you’ll take the test.  Practice on hardcopy and online so that regardless of how you’ll take the exam, it won’t be a shocking event to you.  Stocks going down 20 points, not 2000 points.

Hang in there!  Happy 2022 everyone!

Cal Bar Clarifies – paper materials for February 2022

The Cal Bar published FAQ’s today, 10/7.  The matter is settled:  paper materials for essays, PTs, and MBE for February 2022:

 

  1. Does returning to an in-person exam mean the administration of the exam will return to “normal” – paper exam materials (question booklets and scratch paper), multiple questions administered per session, access to water, and ability to use the restroom during exam sessions?

    Yes. The administration of the exam will be the same as it was prior to the remote exam administrations. Essays 1–3 will be administered together without breaks during the morning session of Day 1; then, after a lunch break, applicants will return for Essays 4, 5, and the Performance Test, which will be administered together without breaks during the afternoon session of Day 1. The morning session of Day 2 will be comprised of the first 100 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) questions, after which there will be a lunch break. The last 100 MBE questions will be given during the afternoon session of Day 2. Please see the full schedule here.

    Applicants will receive the questions in a paper booklet and will be given scratch paper to use if they need.

    Applicants will be allowed access to water during the exam.

    Applicants may leave to use the restroom, but the clock will run continuously.

 

https://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/admissions/Examinations/Feb-2022-Bar-Exam-FAQs.pdf

Update re: in-person v. online Bar Exam testing

Hello everyone!

An update about in-person v. online Bar Exam testing for the February 2022 Cal Bar Exam.  Perhaps not a given that we will return to in-person testing for February 2022?

The Cal Bar announced yesterday that the October 2021 Baby Bar Exam will be an online exam.  No explicit announcement about the Cal Bar format for February 2022.  Based on the timing of this announcement for the Baby Bar (i.e., July 1, or a week after the Baby Bar was held), it’s safe to assume that we should know more information about the February 2022 Cal Bar Exam format on Monday, August 2, if not before.

More info about the October 2021 Baby Bar exam format here:

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Admissions/Examinations/First-Year-Law-Students-Examination/October-2021-First-Year-Exam

 

Date: October 26, 2021

Applicants must log into the exam between the time the password is released at 7:40 a.m. and the latest start time of 8:00 a.m. for the first exam session to verify their identification. In the morning, the exam will be administered in four, one-hour sessions (one hour per essay question). There will be a 25-minute break between each one-hour question session. Other than scheduled breaks, applicants are not permitted to leave the view of their web camera unless they finish the session early and upload their answers. In the afternoon, multiple-choice questions will be split into two 90-minute sessions, each containing 50 questions. There will be a 25-minute break between the sessions. Other than the scheduled break, applicants are not permitted to leave the view of their web camera unless they finish early and upload their answers.

 

Important deadlines

Application filings

July 1 Exam application open
August 2 Timely filing deadline
August 3–31 $25 late filing fee
September 1–15 $200 late filing fee
September 15 – Final filing/reinstatement deadline

– Testing accommodations petition final filing deadline*

October 1 Appeal of Testing Accommodations Petition Decision*
October 12 – Final eligibility deadline

– Proof of Law Study (first-time applicants for the exam)

October 15 Emergency Testing Accommodations Petition final filing deadline*

*Documents must be complete and received in the San Francisco Office of Admissions

Withdrawal refund policy

Requests to withdraw from the October 2021 First-Year Law Students’ Exam must be received by the State Bar’s Office of Admissions on or before the dates listed below in order to qualify for a refund. See the Withdrawal Refund Policy.

July 1–September 1 Withdrawal with 60% refund
September 2–15 Withdrawal with 30% refund
September 16–October 12 Withdrawal with no refund
October 12 Final deadline to withdraw from exam

Exam preparation and exam day

September 28 – First date admit tickets available

– ExamSoft mock exams open

October 15 Deadline to complete two mandatory mock exams
October 19 Exam files open for download
October 25 Deadline to download exam files
October 27 12:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) Laptop upload date
October 28 12:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) Testing accommodation upload date

Fees

All applicants must pay the required fees:

First-Year Law Students’ Exam $624
Laptop computer fees $153
Late Laptop Computer Fee $15* $15

*Request received subsequent to filing application

The transfer of fees from one exam to another is prohibited.

Refunds requested due to hospitalization, death, or call to active duty will be considered in accordance with the Committee of Bar Examiners’ refund policy. The refund form and copies of the policy are available on the State Bar website. Withdrawal requests can be submitted by logging into the Applicant Portal.

Address change

Applicants who change their address after filing the application can make updates by logging into the Applicant Portal to update their profile. If admittance tickets are lost, a duplicate can be requested by contacting the Office of Admissions. Deadline to change address: September 15.

Release of results

Results from the October 2021 First-Year Law Students’ Exam are scheduled to be released electronically through the Applicant Portal to applicants on December 10.

 

NCBE wags the Bar Exam Dog… in-person bar exams for February 2022

Friends:

The NCBE is only going to provide in-person materials for the February 2022 exam.  That means hardcopy materials.  This is a strong leverage play.  “OK, state bar licensing entities, you can do what you want, so long as you do what I say.”  You want Uniform Bar Exam materials?  Enjoy our hardcopy exams, people:  you really didn’t want to think about having another remote exam, did you.

What does this mean for California?  You want those MBE materials for 50% of your test, don’t you?  Welcome back to in-person testing, people.  California has about 60 days to decide right after the July 2021 Cal Bar Exam that, hey, it really was our idea, it really was!  But we’re doing in-person testing for February 2022… and now you know.

NCBE’s press release from June 1 appears below.

 

NCBE Anticipates Return to In-Person Testing for February 2022 Bar Exam

MADISON, WISCONSIN, June 1, 2021—The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) announced today that February 2022 bar exam materials will be made available to jurisdictions for in-person testing only, unless restrictions by a public health authority prohibit a jurisdiction from administering the February exam in person.

NCBE is the not-for-profit corporation that develops the licensing tests used by most US jurisdictions for attorney admissions. In the second half of 2020 and throughout 2021, NCBE made bar exam materials available to jurisdictions for both in-person and remote exam administrations. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bar exam had been administered by each jurisdiction in person, in a secure, proctored testing environment. The July 2021 bar exam is expected to be the last that includes a remote testing option; 29 jurisdictions plan to administer that exam remotely, while 24 will administer it in person.

NCBE has advocated for in-person testing as the best mode of administration of the bar exam.  According to Beth Hill, NCBE Director of Test Development, Operations, and Security, “Remote exams have been a valuable stopgap for jurisdictions during this time, allowing examinees to take the test without having to gather in a larger group. However, remote exams create challenges for exam security and uniformity, and for this reason, we have consistently advocated for in-person testing as the best option whenever possible.”

Hill acknowledges, however, that both NCBE and jurisdictions must continue to monitor the public health landscape: “Throughout the pandemic, jurisdictions have worked closely with their state and local health authorities to ensure that examinees may take the bar exam consistent with each jurisdiction’s safety requirements. Although conditions appear to be improving, NCBE recognizes that any jurisdiction’s public health authority may establish that candidates cannot test in person. Should that occur, we are committed to working with that jurisdiction on a solution that will enable its candidates to take the bar exam.”

The National Conference of Bar Examiners serves bar admission authorities, courts, the legal education community, and candidates by providing high-quality assessment products, services, and research; character investigations; and informational and educational resources and programs. It promotes fairness, integrity, and best practices in bar admissions for the benefit and protection of the public in pursuit of its vision of a competent, ethical, and diverse legal profession. For more information, visit the NCBE website at http://www.ncbex.org.

July 2021 Bar Exam Announcement

Hello everyone!

The July 2021 Cal Bar Exam announcement is provided here:

 

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Admissions/Examinations/California-Bar-Examination/July-2021-California-Bar-Exam

 

Note that the first version of the FAQ Document for the July exam is here!   I’ve attached it.  Note it will change over time, so make sure to check the document online periodically.  Pro-tip:  Look at the LAST page of the document first because that’s where the tips are!

 

July-2021-Bar-Exam-FAQs 32521

 

Finally, the July 2021 Bar Exam Schedule (under traditional time) is available as well.  It’s attached.

 

July-2021-Bar-Exam-Schedule