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August 5, 2014

Barmageddon and its ExamSoft aftermath

by Dan Rodriguez

Here is a letter sent to me today, and presumably to every other law dean in the U.S., from the CEO of ExamSoft, followed by my response:

Dear Dean Rodriguez,

As you may have already heard, on Tuesday evening last week, there were delays in uploading answer files following the day’s exam sessions. Please accept my sincere apologies to you, your students, your faculty and staff. We take our obligation seriously, and after many years of supporting bar exams across the nation, Tuesday night’s delay was very disappointing to say the least.

Since that night, our core priority has been to assist and support each student and ensure solid technical performance for any remaining bar-related activities. If you would like, in the near future, we would be happy to send you a more robust account of what happened on Tuesday night, including details about the root cause of the delays, what changes have been made to improve performance, and how we can ensure this doesn’t happen again.

With that said, I’d like to take this opportunity to share some general information, which you may have already seen, in the hopes that it is helpful to you:
• Tuesday’s post-exam delay did not impact exam day functionality in SofTest, nor did it impact the integrity of exam takers’ answer file content.
• Based on the accounts we’ve received from site engineers, it seems that the exam sessions themselves went well.
• On Tuesday evening, around 6pm ET, as east coast students were uploading their exams, our internal system began processing files at a slower-than-usual pace for a period of approximately six hours.
• Naturally, this led many exam takers to wonder about the status of their uploads and, in some cases, whether they would be able to upload by their deadlines. Therefore, we worked diligently to communicate with applicants via our call lines, Facebook, Twitter, and our website throughout the evening. The state bar examiners were great partners and extended upload deadlines as needed to accommodate the delay, and we communicated such extensions throughout the night.
• On Wednesday, we made several network configuration changes, and Thursday’s exam upload process went smoothly. We are continuing our diligence and will be making further enhancements in short order.
• This week’s overall exam volume was almost the same as last year’s and lower than other weekly periods for final exams, so the volume itself was not the challenge.
Our performance this past week was inconsistent with the standard we’ve set over the years, and we are committed to doing better. Again, more information will be forthcoming as we complete our internal analysis, and please let me know if you would like to talk with me or a member of my executive team.

Sincerely,

Daniel Muzquiz
CEO
ExamSoft Worldwide, Inc.

Mr. Muzquiz,

Thank you for your note. I assume that this exact note is being sent to every dean of every ABA-accredited law school in the U.S. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to have a comprehensive accounting of this situation from the perspective of ExamSoft. I believe, and very much hope, that there have been no specific negative consequences on the ability of any graduates of our law schools to process their exam files.

At the same time, there was unquestionably a serious toll taken on the students in their wholly understandable anxiety and worry, perhaps even panic –clearly consequences of the technological problems resulting from your internal systems, just as you note below.

For that reason, it is striking to me that in your boilerplate note, there is no indication that you are making any refunds to any bartaker. Nor is there any indication that you are planning to make financial recompense that would be a tangible, important acknowledgment of what, at the very least, was a serious problem that resulted from technological problems within the scope of control of ExamSoft.

Such a gesture, whether or not legally compelled, would be the right thing to do, in my opinion. While I by no means speak for anyone other than myself, I would respectfully suggest that you consider, if you have not already, some tangible steps that meet this clear moral obligation to make amends. I call upon you to reflect further upon this unfortunate episode and do the right thing.

Respectfully,
Dan Rodriguez

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