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Guide FAQs Related to Examination for Admission to the Massachusetts Bar

FAQs – JULY 2021 UNIFORM BAR EXAM, Remote Administration

The following frequently asked questions provide critical information, supplementing the information and instructions that petitioners for admission will receive by e-mail from the Board of Bar Examiners and ExamSoft regarding the July 2021 Massachusetts remote administration of the Uniform Bar Exam. Petitioners for admission are expected to monitor e-mail regularly for time-sensitive notifications, required actions, and instructions from the Board of Bar Examiners and ExamSoft.

Examinees are expected to demonstrate integrity, honor, and ethical behavior during all exam sessions, and throughout the bar admissions process.

Table of Contents

Before the Exam

Are additional registration steps for the July 2021 Massachusetts Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) required, beyond my Petition for Admission to the Massachusetts bar?

Yes.  Examinees will be required to register with both the Board of Bar Examiners, via the Massachusetts Bar Applicant Portal, and with ExamSoft, according to instructions that examinees will receive by e-mail.  The submission of government-issued photo identification will be required.  Examinees will not need to pay an additional fee to access ExamSoft software.

When is the exam?

The standard administration of the February 2021 Remote UBE will be held:

Tuesday, July 27 Multistate Performance Test (MPT)  
  MPT 1 TBA
  MPT 2 TBA
  Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)  
  MEE 1-3 TBA
  MEE 4-6 TBA
Wednesday, July 28 Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)  
  MBE 1-50 TBA
  MBE 51-100 TBA
  MBE 101-150 TBA
  MBE 151-200 TBA

All times are Eastern Time.

Examinees pre-approved for accommodated testing conditions will be notified by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners of their respective testing schedules.

Is the July 2021 remote exam for Massachusetts bar admission a Uniform Bar Exam?

Yes, the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners will administer the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) for July 2021 remotely given continuing health and safety issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The July 2021 remote exam is a full UBE that will provide examinees with a portable exam score, transferable to other UBE jurisdictions.  For more information on the benefits of earning a UBE score, please see https://www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/.

What is the passing score?

The passing score for the Uniform Bar Exam for Massachusetts is 270.

What content will be tested by this remote exam?

The remote exam will be a full Uniform Bar Exam, comprised of 200 MBE multiple-choice questions, six Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) questions, and two Multistate Performance Test (MPT) items. A complete description of the subject matter tested on each segment of the Uniform Bar Exam (MBE, MEE, MPT) is available at www.ncbex.org/exams/.

What is the format for the exam?

The July 2021 Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) will be administered remotely using the Examplify platform from software vendor, ExamSoft.

It will be a full UBE, consisting of eight, 90-minute test sessions administered over two days.  It will provide examinees with a portable exam score, transferable to other UBE jurisdictions where the score achieved meets the standard for the receiving jurisdiction.  Information about the benefits of a UBE score may be found at www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/.   

The Multistate Performance Test (MPT), will be administered in two 90-minute sessions on July 27th.  Each session will have one MPT item.

The Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) will also be administered in two 90-minute sessions on July 27th.  Each session will have three MEE questions.

The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) will be administered in four 90-minute sessions on July 28th.  Each session will have 50 multiple-choice questions.

How does the remote format impact non-standard testing accommodations?

Examinees who have submitted an application for non-standard testing conditions should refer to the BBE website. Information, instructions, and required forms can be found here.  Individuals who have applied for accommodations will be contacted directly by the Board of Bar Examiners regarding their request.

How does the remote format impact health-related conditions?

Examinees with a health-related condition requiring special arrangements must complete and submit the Health-Related Conditions Form to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners on or before July 5, 2021.

Does the administration of a remote exam have any impact on the character and fitness process or on other requirements for Massachusetts bar admission?

No. All other requirements for Massachusetts bar admission, including a determination of requisite character and fitness for admission remain the same and are not impacted by the remote administration of the Uniform Bar Exam.

Is the Massachusetts Law Component (MLC) part of the exam?

No.  The MLC is a separate exam and an additional requirement for bar admission, which February examinees must complete by April 9, 2021 and July 2021 examinees must be complete by October 1, 2021 in order to avoid a delay in admission to the bar.  Petitioners will receive additional details about this requirement from the Board of Bar Examiners and through the Massachusetts Bar Applicant Portal.

Where can I take the bar exam?

Examinees should plan to be alone in a quiet, distraction-free environment for the full exam.  Reliable internet access will be required only at the beginning and at the end of each exam session.

Examinees may take the exam at their home, place of employment, law school, at a library, or at another location of their choice.  Diplomas, photographs, or other items that personally identify examinees should not be visible in the exam space selected.

What technology will I need?

Examinees will be required to use a laptop or other computer that has both an operational webcam and a microphone, since the exam will be proctored remotely.

Examinees must ensure in advance that their technology is fully functional, and meets or exceeds ExamSoft’s system requirements for the exam.  The Board of Bar Examiners encourages examinees to use laptops or other computers that use ExamSoft’s recommended system requirements.  Examinees should save the phone number for ExamSoft technical support:

1-866-429-8889.

Reliable internet access will be required at the beginning and at the end of each exam session.

Using their NCBE # as their identification, examinees must download the required, updated version of Examplify, even if they already have a version of the software on their computer from law school or a prior bar exam.  General information about Examplify for bar exams may be found here.

Can an external webcam or microphone be used?

Yes, if necessary, and if configured for use during the mock exams.  The external webcam should be positioned at the top center of the monitor.

Can an external keyboard or mouse be used?

Yes, if necessary, and if configured for use during the mock exams.

Can an external monitor be used?

Yes, if necessary, and if configured for use during the mock exams, but only one monitor is permitted for use during the exam.  If an external monitor is used, the external webcam must be positioned at the top center of the external monitor.

Can I practice using the software beforehand?

Yes.  In advance of the July 2021 Remote Bar Exam, examinees will be required to fully complete a minimum of two mock exams with the Examplify software, to familiarize themselves with the testing features and functionality of the application, to verify adequate computer memory and storage space, and to observe how they appear on camera.  Instructions will be provided by ExamSoft. 

Examinees who do not successfully complete, at a minimum, the two required mock exams by July 2, 2021 will not be permitted to sit for the July 2021 Massachusetts Uniform Bar Exam.

During the first mock exam, examinees will establish a baseline facial identification through the software platform, ExamID, which will be used to confirm examinee identification for each exam session.

Note: 

  • So long as ExamID captures a picture of the examinee at the start of each session on Exam Day, the examinee will be admitted to that exam session.
    • Should ExamID fail to verify the ExamID photo taken at the beginning of an exam session against the baseline photo, the Board of Bar Examiners will authenticate the examinee’s identity after the exam using the captured ExamID photo, the ExamMonitor video, and the examinee’s previously-submitted photo ID.
    • Examinees are never prevented from entering an exam session because Exam ID photos failed to match.

 

Can I withdraw my Petition for Admission by Examination?

Yes.  You may withdraw your Petition for Admission by submitting a Motion to Withdraw from the Examination.  The Motion is submitted to the Supreme Judicial Court referencing your existing Petition.  Please be advised, you will be required to submit a new Petition for Admission if you choose to file in the future.  

Exam Administration Questions

What testing conditions are required?

Examinees are expected to demonstrate integrity, honor, and ethical behavior during all exam sessions, including mock exams.

Examinees must be alone and remain seated with their face visible to the camera for the entire duration of each 90-minute test session.  Examinees must sit for the full exam, including all UBE sessions (MPT, MEE, and MBE).

Reliable internet access will be required at the beginning and at the end of each exam session – to obtain the password, check in and begin each exam session, and then afterwards to upload answer files and ExamMonitor proctoring videos.  Examinees must be connected to the internet before typing in their exam password.  Examinees should start each test session as soon as the password is released.

ExamMonitor’s remote proctoring software will record examinees (both audio and video) throughout each exam session.  The recordings will be uploaded to ExamSoft along with examinee answer files.  Additional information about remote proctoring, including behaviors that may be flagged by the artificial intelligence system, can be found below.

Examinees should choose a location and a type of furniture for seating that will allow them to remain in a stationary, upright, and visible position for remote proctoring.  Couches and beds are not optimal.  Examinees must remain in front of the computer monitor with their face fully visible to the camera at all times throughout each exam session.

Examinees should verify that the angle and position of their laptop screen will maintain adequate visibility of their entire face throughout each exam session.  Examinees should check their camera view regularly to ensure that their entire face remains visible, and that their camera is functioning properly.

Although an external monitor is permitted, only one monitor may be used.

No phone, watch, clock, or other electronic device may be in the testing area, which must also be free of law books, study notes, bar review materials, bags, purses, backpacks, briefcases, and computer cases.

Speaking during an exam session is not permitted.  Examinees may not read the questions aloud, may not talk to themselves, and may not communicate with anyone else at any time during an exam session.  Music, white noise, radios, or other devices that may make audible sounds are prohibited.

Interior room lights should remain on throughout all testing sessions, to enhance examinee visibility, and to minimize clarity problems associated with shadows, diminishing daylight, sudden cloud cover or weather changes.

A photo of the examinee will be taken at the start of each exam session, which ExamID’s facial recognition software will use to authenticate the examinee's identity.  If an authentication issue should arise, it will be resolved by the Board of Bar Examiners after the exam has concluded, and will not prevent the examinee from taking the exam.

 

  • NOTE-So long as ExamID captures a picture of the examinee at the start of each session on Exam Day, the examinee will be admitted to that exam session.
    • Should ExamID fail to verify the ExamID photo taken at the beginning of an exam session against the baseline photo, the Board of Bar Examiners will authenticate the examinee’s identity after the exam using the captured ExamID photo, the ExamMonitor video, and the examinee’s previously-submitted photo ID.
    • Examinees are never prevented from entering an exam session because Exam ID photos failed to match.

The Board of Bar Examiners will review exam audio/video recording irregularities including, but not limited to, the absence of the applicant, the sound of voices, the presence of another person, or the presence of prohibited items.

May I leave my seat during a test session?

Examinees must remain seated with their face visible to the camera for the entire duration of each 90-minute test session.

Between the 90-minute exam sessions, breaks are scheduled, during which time examinees may step away from their computer to stretch, use the restroom, take medications, etc.  Examinees should plan accordingly to avoid leaving their seats while an exam session is in progress.  If an emergency occurs that requires an examinee to leave her/his seat during an exam session, the examinee must announce that fact and the nature of the emergency to the camera and microphone before leaving her/his seat.

Where can I have my phone?

Examinees may not have a phone visible or within reach during a test session.

Examinees may only access a phone for the sole purpose of contacting ExamSoft, if absolutely necessary, to resolve a technology issue.  When the technology issue is resolved, the phone must be removed from the testing area.  Attempted access to a phone or mobile device for any other purpose during a testing session is a violation of the Board of Bar Examiners' Security Policy and may result in the invalidation of the examinee’s test score and/or impact the character and fitness investigation conducted on all examinees.

May I use earplugs?

Only basic foam earplugs are permitted.  Headphones, headsets, earbuds, or any similar device that can access communications during the exam are absolutely prohibited.

May I wear a mask?

Examinees that choose to wear a face covering during testing must temporarily lower the face covering during the ExamID facial recognition process.  Once an examinee’s identification has been confirmed, the face covering may be placed back on the examinee’s face for the duration of the exam session.  Examinees testing at a law school or other public environment should follow all appropriate health and safety protocols determined by that venue.

May I wear a head covering?

Examinees are not permitted to wear a head covering during an exam session except for religious or medical reasons, in which case the head covering may not have a brim or otherwise obscure the examinee’s eyes, face, or ears.

May I eat or drink during the exam?

Applicants are permitted to have food, drinks, medication (prescription and over-the-counter), and required medical devices in the testing area during the exam.

How can the Examplify software be used during the exam?

An overview of the enabled functions and features of the Examplify software may be found below.

May I use scratch paper during the exam?

Only during the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)Scratch paper and a non-digital pencil or pen may be used to take notes during the MPT.  Any scratch paper used during the MPT must be removed from the testing area prior to other exam sessions.

Scratch paper and pencils or pens are not permitted during the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) or the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). 

Will technical support be available?

Yes.  ExamSoft will have technical assistance available by phone throughout each exam session at 1-866-429-8889.  Examinees will be permitted to temporarily access their phones for technical support as needed, but phones must then be removed from the testing area immediately after a support call ends.

What troubleshooting steps can I try myself?

Many technical issues that may arise during an exam, such as a black screen, screen freeze, screen lag, etc., can be resolved by rebooting the device.  You should attempt to address such issues by restarting your device before calling ExamSoft Support, by doing the following:

Turn off your device by pressing and holding the power button, wait 5 seconds, and then restart your device by pressing the power button.  Examplify will restart automatically, and will return to within 59 seconds of where you left off.

If you are unable to restart your computer within 7 minutes, you should contact ExamSoft Support at 1-866-429-8889 for the resume code needed to reenter the exam.  Do not attempt to address the issue by using the exam controls to exit the exam, or you may not be able to reenter the exam file.

Additional Resources for Exam Administration Questions

Post Examination Questions

When will I know my results?

The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners anticipates releasing the results of the February 2021 Remote Bar Exam in late April to all examinees by e-mail.  The e-mail will include information about next steps, a breakdown of the scores and the total score.  The names of passing examinees will be posted on the website of the Board of Bar Examiners as required by Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:01.

When do I need to complete the Massachusetts Law Component (MLC) exam?

The MLC is a separate exam and an additional requirement for bar admission, which February 2021 examinees must be complete by April 9, 2021 in order to avoid a delay in bar admission.  Petitioners will receive additional details about this requirement from the Board of Bar Examiners and through the Massachusetts Bar Applicant Portal.

When will the formal admission ceremonies take place?

Examinees who are successful on the February 2021 Remote Bar Exam and complete all other admissions requirements, will be contacted by the Supreme Judicial Court regarding formal admission ceremonies.

When can I uninstall the Examplify software?

Examinees should keep the Examplify software on their computers until they receive exam results.

How can I transfer an exam score?

The transfer of Uniform Bar Exam scores in support of admission applications in other UBE jurisdictions is handled by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.  See www.ncbex.org/ncbe-exam-score-services/ube-score-services/ for more information.

Can I obtain copies of my essay answers?

If a passing score on the February 2021 Massachusetts Uniform Bar Exam is not achieved, an examinee may request a copy of her/his Multistate Essay Exam and Multistate Performance Test responses via the instructions to be provided in the email with bar exam results.

Will future Massachusetts bar examinations be administered remotely?

The remote administration of the October 2020, February 2021 and July 2021 Massachusetts exams are in response to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Bar Examiners will continue to monitor plans for future bar exam administrations to determine to safest and most effective and efficient Uniform Bar Exam administration moving forward.

October 2020 Examinees

When will the admission ceremonies take place?

The admission ceremonies were offered virtually the week of January 11-15, 2021. All petitioners who did not attend a virtual ceremony and were reported qualified by the Court will receive information from the Court on alternate admission procedures. Please be sure that your contact information on file with the Court is current.  Ceremonies for February 2021 petitioners will be announced soon.

Which jurisdictions are reciprocal for the October 2020 Massachusetts remote bar exam? 

The following jurisdictions will accept scores earned in Massachusetts for the October 2020 remote bar exam:

  • Connecticut
  • Kentucky
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virgin Islands
  • Washington, DC

Contact the jurisdiction for information on the application process.

Additional Information about Examplify and Remote Proctoring

How can the Examplify software be used during the exam?

On the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), examinees will be able to:

  • View the question, response, and virtual scrap paper on the screen at the same time.  Examinees will also be able to open the library attachments and view both the attachments and the exam response on the screen simultaneously.  Examinees will be able to search for text in the library attachments, and resize and zoom by double-clicking an attachment;
  • Highlight within the text of questions (but not within the library attachments);
  • Use the virtual scrap paper, or “Notes” feature, to take notes and outline responses.  This feature also allows examinees to cut and paste text between the virtual scrap paper and answers;
  • Use the spell-check, highlighter, and find and replace features in answers.

On the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), examinees will be able to:

  • View the question, response, and virtual scrap paper on the screen at the same time;
  • Navigate forward and backward between questions, as well as skip and/or return to unanswered questions;
  • Highlight within the text of questions;
  • Use the virtual scrap paper, or “Notes” feature, to take notes and outline responses.  This feature also allows examinees to cut and paste text between the virtual scrap paper and answer;
  • Use the spell-check, highlighter, and find and replace features in answers.

On the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), examinees will be able to:

  • Highlight within the text of each question;
  • Strike-out options believed to be incorrect.  Note: Examinees must actually select an answer (and not just strike through options believed to be incorrect) in order to receive credit;
  • Navigate forward and backward between questions, as well as skip and/or return to unanswered questions;
  • Flag multiple-choice questions to return to for further consideration during the exam session;
  • Use the virtual scrap paper throughout each session.
  • Filter the sidebar list of question numbers to identify questions that remain unanswered.

Examinees are not permitted to:

  • Use more than one monitor;
  • Cut and paste or drag and drop text from MPT items or library attachments, or from MEE questions, to an answer;
  • Underline, circle, or strike text within MPT  materials or MEE/MBE questions;
  • Use physical scratch paper, notes, or any other reference materials during the MEE or MBE.

How does remote proctoring work?

ExamMonitor’s remote proctoring software will record examinees (both audio and video) throughout each exam session.  Recordings will be analyzed through the use of ExamSoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) program, which will flag any unusual behaviors, movements, or sounds.

Examinees may be flagged for review if they don’t remain in front of the computer monitor with their face fully visible to the camera at all times throughout each exam session.  Additional conduct that may raise suspicion and be flagged for review includes:

  • Obstructing the view of the camera, or disconnecting the webcam;
  • Leaving the view of the camera;
  • Allowing another person in the testing space;
  • Speaking during an exam session, including reading questions aloud;
  • Attempting to access a phone in the testing space;
  • Having an electronic device in the testing space, including a watch or clock;
  • Using a white noise device, playing music, or allowing audible sounds or voices;
  • Having a prohibited item in the testing space, including law books, study notes, bar review materials, bags, purses, backpacks, briefcases, and computer cases.

All flagged footage will be reviewed by a human proctor to remove flags for movements or sounds that do not raise concern as to a potential cheating incident.  For example, a dog barking in the background, or a natural movement such as an examinee scratching her/his face, might be initially flagged by AI, but then may be cleared upon human review.

A second set of human proctors will review the remaining flags for further analysis as to behaviors that may still raise a concern.  A final review of any remaining flags will be conducted by Board of Bar Examiners personnel.

The proctors reviewing the recordings and flags will not, at any time, have access to any examinees’ personal identifying information.

Remote proctoring recordings will be destroyed by ExamSoft, at the direction of the Board of Bar Examiners, within a reasonable time after the completion of all grading, or, where misconduct investigations are initiated, after resolution of any misconduct investigation.

It is expected that all examinees will demonstrate integrity, honor, and ethical behavior during all exam sessions, including mock exam sessions.  Any examinee who is found to have violated or attempted to violate any rule or restriction established by the Board of Bar Examiners is subject to referral for character & fitness investigation as provided by Board of Bar Examiners Rule V.

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