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July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam One Day & Online

Questions answered about the July 2020 online Michigan Bar Exam

On June 12, 2020, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners (BLE) released answers to some frequently asked questions about the July 2020 online Michigan Bar Exam.

In this post, we go over some highlights of the BLE’s announcement, and our thoughts on these.

Questions answered about the July 2020 online Michigan Bar Exam

The Michigan Board of Law Examiners (BLE) previously announced that the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam would be online, one-day, and consist of the essay portion only. Then, the Board released some initial information on the online bar exam and what students should expect.

Then, on June 12, 2020, the BLE again released more information on the July 2020 online Michigan Bar Exam. Below are some of the highlights of the announcement. If you are taking the July 2020 online Michigan Bar Exam, make sure to read the actual announcements in addition to JD Advising’s blog posts because we do not go over everything the BLE puts in its announcments!

1. Audio and visual

The announcement clarifies that examinees need “functioning video and audio” for the July 2020 online Michigan Bar Exam. This was expected, and likely has to do with the remote proctoring feature.

2. Mock exam

Applicants will be required to do a mock exam before the actual exam. This is to make sure everything runs smoothly. This is not new for those who have previously taken the essay portion of the Michigan Bar Exam on a computer. But, one difference is that there will be facial recognition software during this mock exam and the actual exam.

3. Questions attached to the exam

The announcement clarifies that “[t]he essay questions will be attached in a PDF form to enable applicants to view the entire question rather than scrolling through a text box.” Applicants will get three questions at a time, not the usual nine or six questions when administered in-person.

Keep in mind that how you structure your essay answers should be the same as an in-person exam!

4. Scratch paper and highlighting

Scratch paper is not allowed, but there is an option for “pop up notes” that can be copied and pasted into your answer space. We suggest taking notes directly in the answer space if you decide you want to take notes. This will decrease the chances of any issues with the copy and paste, and ensure all your thoughts are in the answer submitted! But, play around with the notes feature when you do the practice exam and maybe you will like this more!

The announcement also clarifies there is no option to highlight the exam questions since they are online, in a PDF format. This is different from the normal in-person exam where the questions are on paper and you are allowed to have a writing utensil in your space. When practicing essay questions, make sure you are viewing them on your computer in a PDF format, as it will be on exam day, so you get used to this!

5. No people or animals in the room

The BLE clarifies that no other person or pet is allowed in the room where you are taking the exam. Thus, we suggest you go to a location where you know there will be no one else around. So, a private library room might not be a safe choice. But, talk to your law school about accommodations for the July 2020 online Michigan Bar Exam, as it is possible they are making the library ready for examinees. And, make sure to put all pets in daycare or out of the room!

6. No bathroom breaks during a module

The announcement states that examinees are not allowed to get up to use the restroom during an exam module (when there are questions). But, that there will be short breaks and a lunch break, and those times are not yet determined. Thus, use your breaks for a bathroom stop!

7. Looking at your keyboard

Applicants who look at their keyboard when typing should not have any issues with the remote proctoring. The BLE clarifies that “[i]f someone is simply glancing at their keyboard to determine which keys they are hitting, this should be apparent during the in-person review of the footage.”

Final thoughts

The BLE notes that examinees should ask if they have any questions about these instructions or other questions about the exam. We would also encourage you to reach out now, rather than later! But, we suggest you closely read all the announcements from the BLE before asking any questions, since they have clarified a lot already!

The BLE still has not given the times and rules for the breaks between the three-question sets and the lunch breaks. For example, it is unclear whether you can leave the room between sets or at the lunch break, whether you will have to be on camera, etc. For the in-person exam, examinees are allowed to leave the testing center, so we assume the same rules apply. There also is not an answer yet on what examinees are allowed to have on their desks, like a water bottle, for example. We suspect all questions will be answered before exam day!

Looking for more information?

If you are planning to take the July 2020 online Michigan Bar Exam, JD Advising has created many resources to help, including multiple blog posts on preparing for the bar exam in light of COVID-19. You can find all these posts here.

We are hosting more webinars about how to pass the bar exam, so look out for announcements on our blog or sign up for our newsletter by contacting us!

Good luck on July 28, 2020!

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