Instructions for Handwriters

Read These Instructions

The Board expects all applicants to read these instructions in full and to follow the instructions provided. Failure to follow these instructions may result in you being disqualified from the exam. Ignorance of these instructions or the Rules of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners (Rules) is not an acceptable defense.

Date and Location for July 2017 Virginia Bar Exam

The July 2017 Virginia Bar Examination (unless otherwise notified) will be held at the Roanoke Civic Center (Berglund Center), 710 Williamson Road, NE, Roanoke, Virginia on July 25 & 26, 2017.

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR HANDWRITERS ONLY

All applicants who have timely filed an application are allowed to sit for the Virginia Bar Examination unless otherwise notified. To be admitted to the exam, you must bring with you the photo ID (e.g. driver's license, passport), which matches the one you submitted with your application, and bears your Full Legal Name.

Tickets

No admission tickets are issued.

Allowed Items

Please be advised that you will be subject to individual security screening procedures, including the use of metal detecting wands. In addition, any items brought into the exam room are subject to search. If you refuse to submit to such screenings, you will be denied entrance or disqualified from the exam.

For your safety and security and for the integrity of the exam, the Board restricts what you may bring into the exam room. You will be disqualified from the exam if you bring any items into the exam room which are not on the allowed items list. This means any item. The Board will not hold or be responsible for holding any item for you. Do not ask a member of the Board or staff to hold items for you. Do not bring them into the exam area or room.

Only the following items are allowed. If an item is not on this list, you may not bring it into the exam without prior written permission from the Board. A Medical Accommodation Request Form to bring any item into the exam room not on the allowed list must be submitted by July 14, 2017. No exceptions will be made.

Day One - Essay Sessions
You are allowed to bring into the exam
one clear plastic bag with the following items only
Number Allowed
Item
1
Photo ID (with full legal name)
3
Black or Blue Ink Pens
1
Set of Soft Foam Ear Plugs
1
Packet of Tissues
Keys (including hotel room key)
Eyeglasses (without case)
Cash/Credit Card
Feminine Hygiene Products
Day Two - MBE Sessions
You are allowed to bring into the exam
one clear plastic bag with the following items only
Number Allowed
Item
1
Photo ID (with full legal name)
6
#2 Pencils with Erasers (no mechanical pencils)
1
Additional Eraser
1
Set of Soft Foam Ear Plugs
1
Packet of Tissues
Keys (including hotel room key)
Eyeglasses (without case)
Cash/Credit Card
Feminine Hygiene Products

Prohibited Materials

Unless an item is on the Allowed Items list, it is prohibited and not permitted in the exam. You will be disqualified from the exam if you bring any prohibited item into the exam without prior written approval.

Prohibited items specifically include, but are not limited to:

  • Study Materials, outlines or other notes (including all bar review materials), in any form whatsoever
  • Cell Phones
  • Palm Pilots, BlackBerrys, Beepers, Pagers or other PDAs
  • Wristwatch, Clock or other Timekeeping Device
  • Jewelry (wedding bands are allowed)
  • Fitness Trackers (such as Fitbit, Misfit, Garmin, Jawbone, etc.)
  • Food or Drink (water stations are near exam rooms)
  • Briefcases, Laptop Cases, Suitcases, Pocketbooks (including women’s handbags), Wallets
  • Eyeglass Cases
  • Highlighters
  • Mechanical Pencils
  • Wite-Out
  • Medication

Violation of any of these restrictions will result in your disqualification from the Virginia bar examination. Any such items will be confiscated and you will be dismissed from the exam. The Board is not responsible for their loss, if that should occur. Leave them in your vehicle or in your hotel/motel room.

The use of any material or equipment for the purpose of sound suppression (other than soft foam earplugs) requires advance approval by the Board.

No Smoking

Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the examination area between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. This means that smoking is not permitted in the examination rooms, the restrooms, or the lobbies and public areas outside the examination rooms.

Only Applicants May Enter

Unless you have the Board's prior written approval, family and friends may not enter the exam rooms or congregate in the lobby areas while the examination is in progress.

Mandatory Dress Code

Dress for all applicants must conform to the standards suitable for a lawyer appearing in a court of record in Virginia, i.e., a suit or jacket and tie for males, and a suitable dress or suit (pantsuits are acceptable) for females. It is preferred that you wear soft-soled or rubber-soled shoes so as not to disturb your fellow applicants, but you may not wear athletic shoes or flip-flops/sandals. Violation of the mandatory dress code will result in your dismissal from the exam site and the disqualification of your exam. Click here for additional information.
FIRST DAY – July 25, 2017 – ESSAY PORTION

Security Wanding, ID Check and Arrival Time

All applicants taking the Virginia Bar Exam will be subject to security wanding and an ID check before entering the Berglund Center and upon reentry should you exit the building at lunch. All bar applicants must enter through the Berglund Center Plaza.

ID check and wanding will begin at 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Be prepared to wait in line. The lines will be broken down alphabetically by your last name. Please have your ID ready. Your ID must match the ID you submitted to the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners.

All allowed items must be in a clear plastic bag so VBBE staff can easily see all items and for ease of wanding.

General

The essay portion (also referred to by some as the "Virginia portion") will consist of two sessions of three hours each held on the first day of the examination. The morning session of the first day of the exam will consist of five essay questions. The afternoon session will consist of four essay questions and ten multiple choice questions.

Assigned Seating

Unless otherwise notified, you will be seated alphabetically, with the first portion of the alphabet beginning at the front of the room. You will find Place Cards and Exam Photo Identification Cards on the examination tables to designate each applicant's assigned seat. You should find your seat as quickly and quietly as possible and be seated. Remain in your assigned seat for all portions of the examination.

Medical Accommodation Request Forms to request special seating in one of the main exam rooms due to a medical condition must be submitted by July 14, 2017.

Introduction of Board

Promptly at 9:00 a.m. the Board of Bar Examiners will be introduced, and one of the Board members will make brief introductory remarks. Please give your undivided attention because these remarks will contain important instructions.

Applicant Identification Number

Following the introductory remarks, each applicant will be given a set of answer booklets containing the morning essay questions and a very important Pledge card located inside the first answer booklet.

The preprinted number on the Pledge Card is your Applicant Identification Number for the entire exam. Because all grading is anonymous, this is the only form of identification that should appear on any answer booklet or answer sheet for any portion of the examination.

The Pledge Card contains your pledge to behave with honor and to report to the Board any indication of cheating or a violation of the rules by others during the examination. You will be instructed to read and sign the Pledge Card.

Exam Photo Identification Card

You will be given an Exam Photo Identification Card. You must retain the Exam Photo Identification Card during the exam administration for identification purposes. You will be instructed to take your Exam Photo Identification Card with you during lunch breaks and at the conclusion of the first day of the exam, and to bring it with you to all remaining sessions of the examination. You will be required to return your Exam Photo Identification Card at the conclusion of the second day of the exam.

Instructions

The Board will indicate when you may look at the essay questions, and all applicants will begin each session at the same time. Official time remaining will be projected on the exam room wall. No one may leave the room during the examination except for necessary bathroom or water breaks. A member of the Board or staff will be in or near the examination room at all times. If you have a problem during the session, you should seek the advice of the Board or staff.

Tips for Answering Essay Questions

All of the essay questions are intended to test not only an applicant's understanding of fundamental legal principles and rules, but also an applicant's ability to (1) identify legal issues raised by hypothetical facts; (2) separate material which is relevant from that which is not; (3) identify the legal rules applicable to the issues and facts; (4) present a reasoned analysis of the relevant issues in a clear, concise and well-organized composition resulting in (5) a conclusion that follows from your analysis.

Before you undertake to write an essay answer, read the question thoroughly, analyze the facts, and form in your mind what you think is an appropriate answer. Do not merely answer "Yes" or "No" to any essay question; state clearly your reasons, as the graders give great weight to your reasoning in evaluating the essay answers. Be sure you answer the question being asked. If a question has more than one part, be sure you answer all parts.

No paper is available during the Essay portion of the examination (unless your laptop crashes and you have to handwrite any portion of the exam) and none should be brought into the examination room. You may make notes on the margins of your essay questions.

At the Conclusion of the Essay Portion of the Exam

A stop writing announcement will be made at the end of each session. Anyone who writes or marks an answer after the stop writing announcement has been made will be disqualified from the examination. No one may leave until final time has been called and all answer booklets have been collected. Instructions on the collection of materials will be given at the end of each session. During the final 15 minutes of each examination session, you must remain in your seat as a courtesy to your fellow applicants.
SECOND DAY – July 26, 2017 – MULTISTATE PORTION

Security Wanding, ID Check and Arrival Time

All applicants taking the Virginia Bar Exam will be subject to security wanding and an ID check before entering the Berglund Center and upon reentry should you exit the building at lunch. All bar applicants must enter through the Berglund Center Plaza.

ID check and wanding will begin at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Be prepared to wait in line. The lines will be broken down alphabetically by your last name. Please have your ID ready. Your ID must match the ID you submitted to the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners.

All allowed items must be in a clear plastic bag so VBBE staff can easily see all items and for ease of wanding.

Pencils

Examinees should bring a maximum of 6 sharpened #2 lead pencils to mark the answer sheets of the Multistate (MBE) portion of the examination. Hand-held manual sharpeners will be available for use before the session and at the lunch break.

Instructions

In the morning and afternoon sessions of the MBE, follow all directions carefully in filling out the information required on the computer answer sheet. No extra time will be given if the information on your Multistate computer answer sheets is not gridded correctly. No extra paper is available during the MBE Examination and none should be in the examination room. Examinees may make notes only in the margins of the Multistate question booklet, not on the answer sheet.

At the Conclusion of the MBE Portion of the Exam

A stop writing announcement will be made at the end of each session. Anyone who writes or marks an answer after the stop writing announcement has been made will be disqualified from the examination. No one may leave until final time has been called and all MBE answer sheets and booklets have been collected. Instructions on the collection of materials will be given at the end of each session. During the final 15 minutes of each examination session, you must remain in your seat as a courtesy to your fellow applicants.

Exam Photo Identification Card Collection

At the conclusion of the final portion of the MBE examination, you must return your Exam Photo ID Card.  Instructions on collection of your Photo ID will be given at the end of the final session.
EXAMINATION RESULTS

Name Changes

No name changes will be made two (2) weeks before the exam or two (2) weeks before results are released. A certified copy of a marriage license or a certified copy of a name change order must accompany all requests for a name change. Click here to download the Name Change Form.

Address Changes

Examination results will be mailed to the address indicated on your Place Card. Subsequent changes in address must be provided to the Office of the Secretary of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners in writing as soon as possible. A Change of Address Form is available on our website at barexam.virginia.gov. No address changes can be guaranteed to be made two (2) weeks before the exam or two (2) weeks before results are released. If you wait to change your address until immediately prior to the release of results, we may not be able to change your address, which will cause a delay in the receipt of your results and, should you pass, the very important registration materials required for attending the swearing in ceremony. Under these circumstances, make sure you have a forwarding order on file with the post office because we will not release results to anyone over the phone and we cannot resend registration materials due to the high postage cost. We will not accept address changes over the telephone.

Notification

After all papers have been graded and results tabulated, each applicant will be sent a letter by first-class mail which informs the applicant whether or not he or she passed this examination. Applicants, their families and friends should not call the Office of the Secretary of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners inquiring about when results will be released. No information will be given out over the telephone, and calls of this nature only impede the processing of the scores.

Internet

After the results have been mailed, names of the passing applicants will be posted on the Internet on the Board's website at http://barexam.virginia.gov/bar/barresults.html. The list will be in alphabetical order. Again, no results will be given over the telephone.
VIRGINIA BAR EXAMINATION

Procedures for determining scores

The July 2017 Virginia Bar Examination will consist of nine essay questions and ten multiple choice questions on Tuesday, and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) on Wednesday.

Essay Score: Each essay answer is graded on a 10-point scale, and each of the ten multiple choice questions is graded right or wrong. Each correct multiple choice is worth 1 point. Thus, the maximum essay "raw" score is 100 points: (10 points x 9 essay questions) + (1 point x 10 multiple choice questions).

MBE Score: The MBE consists of 200 multiple choice questions. Because questions at one administration of the MBE might prove to be more or less difficult than those at another administration, the MBE score is scaled for each administration to adjust for such differences. This procedure is designed so that it will be no harder or easier to earn a given MBE scaled score on one administration of the MBE than on any other administration of the MBE.

As a group, the essay and multiple choice questions asked on one administration of the Virginia Bar Examination could be harder or easier than those asked at another time. To adjust for these differences, the essay raw scores are converted to the same scale of measurement as that used to report the MBE scaled scores. As a result of this step, the average essay scaled score in Virginia will be equal to the average MBE scaled score. This method is designed to permit the passing standard to remain as constant as possible from one exam to the next, so that an applicant is neither rewarded nor penalized for having taken one exam or another.

Determination of minimum passing score

Minimum Passing Score. In the course of grading the essay questions over a number of past examinations, the Board has reached a consensus on the level of performance necessary for an applicant to demonstrate his or her minimum competency to practice law in Virginia. On the basis of this evaluation, the Board has determined that it is necessary for an applicant to achieve a Total Scaled Score (also known as Combined Weighted Total or CWT) of 140 in order to pass the Virginia Bar Examination.

Total Scaled Score/CWT. The Board of Bar Examiners has determined that the essay scaled score should carry 60% of the weight of the examination and the Multistate scaled score should be allocated 40%. Accordingly,

Total Scaled Score (CWT) = (.60 x essay scaled score) + (.40 x MBE scaled score)

Reread Policy. When the initial grading of the Examination has been completed, the Board members meet to regrade the essay and multiple choice papers of those applicants whose initial Total Scaled Score (CWT) is near but below passing. Usually the Board rereads the papers of approximately ten percent of those persons taking the exam whose initial scores are below the minimum passing score. After the regrading, all scores are final. All grading is done anonymously.