Some law students who plan to take the bar exam this year may not be able to use their favorite laptop. May states are banning the use of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros because of the predictive nature of the Touch Bar, though some are still allowing it if the feature is disabled.
ExamSoft, which makes testing software for the Board of Law Examiners, says the Touch Bar’s default setting, which displays “predictive text depending on what the student is typing” could compromise “exam integrity.”
Bar exam proctors have been instructed to look for the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro Touch Bar laptops and manually disable the Touch Bar’s adaptive display so that it shows a standard row of function keys.
The Board of Law Examiners of the State of North Carolina has already issued a notice ahead of next month’s bar exam to remind all applicants about the new laptop settings. (You know, in case you were working on any kind of Touch Bar software to help you cheat.)
If you’re planning to take the bar exam, you should check the rules for your state. While some states only require you to disable the Touch Bar, other states, like New York and Colorado, have banned the use of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar altogether.
As noted on the New York State Board of Law Examiner’s website:
If you downloaded the software for this exam on a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, you MUST re-install the software on a different computer. The re-installation fee will be WAIVED.
If you bring a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to the examination, you will NOT be permitted to use it, it will be removed from your desk and you will be required to handwrite the answers to the essay questions.
Ohio State University’s Professor Katherine Silver Kelly, writing on the Bar Exam Wizard, has a running list of the states that have banned the new MacBook Pros and which ones just require the Touch Bar to be disabled.