‘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 May 30, 2021, 9:02 pm CDT

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: 

Friend posted this morning: “we’re all in the same boat. Too bad it’s the Titanic.” So #ExamSoft is the Titanic, right?

— lawvocado (@Musical1L) July 30, 2014

#ExamSoft with the biggest technical SNAFU since the Superbowl lights went out

— Jeff Monahan (@monahan00) July 30, 2014

You know who failed the bar exam? ExamSoft. #barexam #examsoft

— OverWorked, esq (@Barred_inCharge) July 30, 2014

@monahan00 Day 2 of the Bar will obviously begin with a case about an exam company failing to deliver on a contractual obligation. #examsoft

— Simon Roberts (@simonsays927) July 30, 2014

Are the folks at #examsoft the same who did the Obamacare website?

— OnTheBench (@Huerts31) July 30, 2014

It’s hysterical how stressed people are getting about #ExamSoft. Joke’s on you – I already failed! #barprep

— Jeff Monahan (@monahan00) July 30, 2014

When you’ve fucked uploading the bar exam in all fifty states, it’s time to stop making state-specific announcements #examsoft

— Lawl Baker (@Lawlbaker) July 30, 2014

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

Class action lawsuit for intentional infliction of emotional distress? #examsoft

— Kaitlin Marsh Blake (@kaitmmarsh) July 30, 2014

Is #examsoft a tangible good? I need to know whether to pursue my claim under the common law or UCC. #barexam2014 pic.twitter.com/x8D9EEucNL

— Nick Daisy (@NickdaisyDaisy) July 30, 2014

@monahan00 “Who do we have to sue around here to get this thing uploaded?” #examsoft

— Simon Roberts (@simonsays927) July 30, 2014

@Ok_Uju @barpreplife Adhesion contracts are void as against public policy #examsoft Also, breach of implied warranty of merchantibility?

— Charlotte Stewart (@carolinguia) July 30, 2014

Truth is a defense to defamation, right? Ok, good. Then let it be known: #examsoft SUCKS. #barexam2014

— Nick Daisy (@NickdaisyDaisy) July 30, 2014

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

Hey @examsoft you spelled “received” wrong. #examsoft #barghazi pic.twitter.com/3Rr9puhKvB

— Satie (@satiem) July 30, 2014

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. 

Hey #barexam takers – we hear you and apologize for the uploading issues. We’re posting all new news in real-time re: possible extensions

— ExamSoft (@ExamSoft) July 30, 2014

If SoftTest has stopped trying to automatically upload, your answers are still on your computer – not gone. #barexam

— ExamSoft (@ExamSoft) July 30, 2014

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