‘Barghazi’: ExamSoft’s servers crash during 2014 bar exam

ExamSoft's handling of the 2014 bar exam has been dubbed "Barghazi."


Austin Powell

Internet Culture

Published Jul 29, 2014   Updated Mar 2, 2020, 12:25 am CST

The results of the bar exam won’t be available for months, but it’s already painfully clear who failed this year: ExamSoft. 

The management platform suffered severe technical difficulties Tuesday that prevented thousands of students from uploading their exams upon completion. 

The bar examination is the single most-important test in a law student’s career. It’s required to obtain a license to legally practice law in a given state. Students can suffer through three years of classes and graduate cum laude, but without a passing grade on the bar, all they’d have to show for it is a pile of debt. Most students spend thousands of dollars on bar review prep courses like BARBRI and dedicate months to intense cramming.   

In Oregon, students applying for the bar examination in February 2015 must pay $140 to use the ExamSoft software. The only alternative is to handwrite the essays, which is far more time-intensive and lacks the obvious benefits of word-processing software. Similar arrangements are presumably in place for other states, all of which began administering the test Tuesday.

The two-day, multi-hour test—given only twice a year—is so stressful, in fact, that ExamSoft published a guide earlier this month to assist students in “bar exam panic mode.” It instructs students to seek help if feeling emotionally drained and to “take care of the things you can control.” 


Now, however, it appears that ExamSoft has only worsened the situation for students.

The company’s technical glitch prevented students across the country from uploading their essays Tuesday night. ExamSoft claimed on Twitter its servers were clogged and recommended that students attempt to manually upload the essays every 30 minutes. 

Many of the students affected took to Twitter to vent their frustrations, some dubbing it “barghazi,” while others commiserated in online forums

Here’s a small sampling of what happens when you piss off sleep-deprived, anxiety-riddled, soon-to-be-lawyers: 

Legal threats have piled up faster than you can say “class-action lawsuit.” 

Even when the software worked as intended, it still managed to fall short: 

ExamSoft has been in damage control for hours. It offered a hashtagged apology and pledged to post real-time updates about “possible extensions,” the keyword being “possible.” So far, students in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Missouri have been granted extensions. The status for students in states like Oregon, however, remains unclear. 

Truly, hell hath no fury like a batch of potential lawyers scorned. 

ExamSoft did not respond to a request for comment at press time, and its customer service line has been busy for hours. 

Photo by frankjuarez/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Jul 29, 2014, 11:43 pm CDT