North Carolina Law Students Must Disable MacBook Pro Touch Bar for 2017 Bar Exam [Updated]

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.

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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.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Neutral)


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3 weeks ago
That's a Touchy Bar Examination. :D
Rating: 30 Votes
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3 weeks ago
From my experience taking the bar exam, the software they have you install reboots the computer into a sort of safe-mode where the OS loads the bare minimum to run the bar exam software, and nothing else. Then after you submit the exam, the computer reboots again as usual.

During the pseudo-safe mode of taking the bar exam, I noticed none of the text replacements I had set up in the settings worked (I had common law school stuff like pp=plaintiff, dd=defendant, ss=section symbol, etc.). Other typical OS X shortcuts and commands did not work either.

My guess is the touchbar doesn't actually pose any real threat to cheat yet, but their software vendor hasn't figured out all the ins and outs yet, and they are taking this step out of caution.
Rating: 18 Votes
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3 weeks ago

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.


Instructions like this from "IT Department Experts" really annoy me. First, they call it the "Mac Book Pro", with a space between "Mac" and "Book". Second, they instruct you to open System Preferences from the Dock, but how many people leave that icon in the Dock? Choosing from the Apple menu would be far more consistent. And finally, they say to "double-click Keyboard"... ugh!
Rating: 11 Votes
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3 weeks ago
I'm here for the puns. Please don't disappoint.
Rating: 9 Votes
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3 weeks ago
Wait, what? They let you use computers to take the bar exam?! You're expecting people going into a profession of being crooked, to take an honest test with a computer?!

The insanity!
Rating: 6 Votes
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3 weeks ago
I usually don't comment on the main threads, but I've got to say, WHAT?

Their instructions for disabling the TouchBar's functionality is ridiculous! A) System Preferences isn't necessarily on the Dock of all Macs. Be better to say "The Apple menu", since it's always accessible from there, and "Double-click"? They've got to be kidding! I get the thing with disabling it, but their instructions are weird
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If you're smart enough to code this, you probably don't need to cheat; albeit I'm sure that also means you're smart enough to make money off your creation by selling it to others.


What if you're just smart enough to download a tool from the internet that someone else made for cheating? That's a possibility
Rating: 6 Votes
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3 weeks ago
The irony is that it's a Bar Examination. :P
Rating: 6 Votes
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3 weeks ago
Bar bans bar from being touched while barred bar bares any chance of bearing fruit for the barely ethical among the bar's hopefuls.
{law & order chime}
Rating: 5 Votes
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3 weeks ago
Completely reasonable. I would just hate to be one of those kids with the new shiny laptop making all the administrators spend all that extra time checking that I have it disabled
Rating: 3 Votes
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3 weeks ago
If they are able to hack the test using the Touch Bar then maybe they are testing for the wrong line of work. ;)

I know, I know, we need good tech people in law. I just find it amusing.
Rating: 3 Votes
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