North Carolina law students who purchased one of Apple's new MacBook Pro models that include a Touch Bar will need to disable much of its functionality to be able to use their MacBooks on the upcoming 2017 Bar Examination, according to a new notice put out today by the Board of Law Examiners of the State of North Carolina.
According to the notice, applicants will need to disable the Touch Bar's ability to be used with apps through the System Preferences before they can use their computers to take the test. The Touch Bar needs to be set to "Expanded Control Strip," which displays options like screen brightness and volume controls without allowing it to show app-specific content that shifts with each app.
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.
The notice doesn't include the reason why Touch Bar functionality must be limited, but in a statement, a board staff member said that it has the potential to compromise security, perhaps leading to cheating. 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.
Update: It appears the Touch Bar ban expands beyond North Carolina and is even harsher in some states. In California, the Committee of Bar Examiners has decided that the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar can't be used at all on the February 2017 examination and sent out notices to test takers this morning.
The Committee of Bar Examiners has been advised that the MacBook Pro laptop with Touch Bar contains certain embedded features that makes it problematic for use during the upcoming February 2017 administration of the CBX. As a result, applicants will NOT be allowed to use the MacBook Pro laptop with Touch Bar during the February 2017 CBX.
According to the Committee of Bar Examiners, applicants will need to find a different laptop to use during the test. Those who attempt to use a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar will receive a score of zero for the session and will not be allowed to continue the exam.