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Multiple States Ban the MacBook Pro w/ Touch Bar from 2017 Bar Exams

Multiple States Ban the MacBook Pro w/ Touch Bar from 2017 Bar Exams

Law students in a number of states are being told to disable the Touch Bar on their new MacBook Pro laptop or leave them home entirely if they plan to use them during the 2017 Bar Examination in February.

Multiple States Ban the MacBook Pro w/ Touch Bar from 2017 Bar Exams

The Board of Law Examiners of the State of North Carolina on Friday released a notice to applicants for the 2017 Bar Exam, telling them they’ll need to disable the Touch Bar’s ability to be used with apps before being allowed to use the notebooks to take the test. The Touch Bar needs to be set to “Expanded Control Strip” in System Preferences, which doesn’t display app-specific content for each app used on the laptop.

This is a notice for all applicants who will be using their laptop at the February 2017 North Carolina Bar Examination. If you are planning to use the newest version of the Mac Book Pro with Touch Bar, you will be required to disable the Touch Bar feature prior to entry into the Bar Examination Site.

To disable the Touch Bar:
From the Dock, open System Preferences, then double-click Keyboard, then open the drop-down menu for “Touch Bar Shows,” and select Expanded Control Strip.

Please be advised that the Announcing Proctor will make an announcement at the start of the exam session asking anyone who is using a Mac Book Pro with Touch Bar to raise their hand so that a proctor or ExamSoft technician can come to their seat and ensure that the Touch Bar has been disabled.

While the notice doesn’t include a reason why the Touch Bar’s functionality needs to be limited during the exam, a statement from a board staff member indicated it was to cut down on the potential for students to use it to cheat on the exam.


… An anonymous source also told MacRumors that the ban stems from ExamSoft, the company responsible for making sure test takers have restricted access to the internet, apps, and files. One of the concerns ExamSoft has is the Touch Bar’s predictive text feature, which suggests words to users. According to the source, the MacBook Pro is restricted from all tests administered by ExamSoft clients.

While North Carolina is restricting the use of the Touch Bar during the exam, some states are cracking down even harder on law students who own the Touch Bar equipped MacBook Pro. The California Committee of Bar Examiners has decided they won’t allow the machine to be used at all for the February exam. It sent out notices to test takers on Monday. Applicants will need to find a different laptop to use while taking the test. Any student who attempts to use a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar will receive a score of zero, and will not be allowed to take the exam.

Other states are cracking down in similar ways. Engadget reports:

… According to notices from the New York State Board of Law Examiners and the Colorado Supreme Court, users who show up with a Touch Bar-equipped model in those states will have to write their answers by hand, but they will be allowed to re-download the ExamSoft software to another machine for free if they do it in advance. Although not every state has issued a formal notice yet, Ohio State University law professor and Bar Exam Wizard blogger Katherine Silver Kelly, reports that the Touch Bar is also banned in California, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. So prospective lawyers should do their due diligence and check with their local jurisdiction before heading to their exam site.

If you’re unsure what the rules are in your state, check with your local bar examiners board in your area to verify their stance on the subject.