Sunday, July 30, 2017

I was a proctor for the bar exam

Recently I had the opportunity to proctor the NYS Bar exam. Yes. THE bar exam. You know - the one that is the high pressure, high stakes exam for our future attorneys.  I have always wanted to do it, and I was able to find out how to apply for it. So, I applied. I was accepted, and I spent two VERY long days proctoring. I took two days off of my real job to do this since the bar is always held on a Tuesday and Wednesday. (Good thing I have a lot of vacation time. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to do it).

It was an interesting experience, and I had NO idea how much goes into it until I actually did it.

First of all, I pictured myself at the head of a room. It would be me and my 26 students. I would be able to read books, do crosswords, and surf Facebook, while they diligently took the exam. How wrong I was. First off - there is no small room. In fact, all the students are in one big huge room which is broken out into sections. Picture a room that fits 1000 people. Yes. That's how big it was. And there was really no sitting. There was no reading. There was no Facebook surfing. My job was to WATCH those candidates take the test. I had to walk the area I was in. And walk. And walk some more. In fact, by the end of the 2nd day, I really wished I had a step counter to know the amount of steps I had taken. And my legs were sore. Legitimately sore. In fact, when I went running the day after the bar, my legs were pooped out.

This is what the room looked like. This is NOT a photo from the actual bar exam.  Taken from Google images.


Second of all, I really had no concept of how nervous these students would be. I mean, of course it's understandable to be nervous. But these kids were wound TIGHT. As they took the test, they twirled their hair. They pulled their hair. They picked their nails. They bit their fingers. Some even were getting sick in the restroom. Yes. That really happened. It's high pressure. Imagine studying for something for 2 months straight, and then it all boils down to 12 hours of testing. It's scary stuff.

Just sitting here, twirling my hair while I think about the answers.

Third of all, I had no idea of how attached I would get to my 26 candidates. Over the course of the 2 days, I was responsible for checking their ID's for the morning and the afternoon sessions. I was responsible for passing out the tests, collecting the tests, and checking their bags. Since they arrived at 7:30 and the exam started at 9:30, I had time to get to know them. We chatted. I found out where they were from. In my group, I had students from Ireland, Pakistan, China, Australia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Long Island. Crazy! I had no idea people came from different countries to take the NYS Bar. By the end of the second day, I felt like they were my children and I was rooting them on and hoping they would pass.

Both days were broken down into 2 sections. Day one was essay day and all the candidates could bring their laptops. During the morning, they had to answer 2 essays and they had 3 hours. The afternoon session was comprised of 6 essays and it was also 3 hours. As I walked the room, I found myself noticing what questions they were on, and I would secretly cheer them on. Some were right on par with the time. Others, not so much. I had to fight myself from tapping them on the shoulder and telling them that they should move along to the next question. Allocate your time people!

Day 2 was multiple choice day. There were 100 questions in the morning and 100 in the afternoon. They had 3 hours for each section. There were very few people who left early. They really needed all that time to finish. The hard part for me was that I will never be able to find out if they passed or failed. So sad. I am left in a state of wonder. And these candidates don't even find out if they pass or fail until OCTOBER. Seriously.  October? That is months away. The waiting must be excruciating.

Even though it was boring, and it was hard on my legs and feet, I would probably proctor again. I found the experience fascinating, and it's always nice to make some extra money. In case anyone is interested, they are always looking for proctors, and the exam is always held the last Tuesday and Wednesday in February and July. Message me if you want details...

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