Law school, ExamSoft, and my need to get a WinXP laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by wowoah, Mar 18, 2005.

  1. wowoah macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2003
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    #1
    Hey everyone,

    So I've been accepted into law school (yay!) but I'm now confronted with the realization that exams in law school must be taken on a laptop using ExamSoft, which is available only for Windows. ExamSoft is apparently some really basic word processor that locks out your entire system so you can't access your files and use notes (in other words, so you can't cheat). Thus, because it's so easy to just Cmd-tab out of Virtual PC, the program *must* be run on an actual Windows laptop.

    Does anyone know where I can get a useable, stable, used Windows laptop for <$100? I'm not about to ditch my beautiful PowerBook and I'm sure I can still use it to take notes in class, but I guess I'll need something to take my exams on.

    If any other Mac-using law students who are facing this dilemma would like to share their experiences/wisdom or advice, I'd love to hear it also!

    THANKS! :)
     
  2. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #2
    Congrats - and thankfully, when I was at law school, we had to write everything out by hand so it wasn't an issue.

    But from various posts here, it can depend on your school. Some people have had to buy a cheap Windows laptop, others have non-law, Windows toting friends and been able to borrow a laptop for a few days. Apparently a few schools allow you to sit exams in a computer lab using their machines

    Good luck whatever your final option is but I'd agree, keep your PB for everything else and find an alternative for the exam rather than for the whole course.
     
  3. ldburroughs macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    #3
    Yes. Keep your PowerBook and find a way around the Examsoft issue by either borrowing someone else's laptop (friend or family) or handwriting if your school still allows it. The first thing I would do is check with your school to find out what your options are. Each law school is going to tell you how you must take exams. A bit of unsolicited advice ... if you do end up borrowing someone else's laptop make sure you familiarize yourself with Examsoft in advance. Make sure the laptop will make it through 3-4 hours and that it can hold a significant enough charge in the unlikely event of a power failure. After your first semester it will be a breeze. Hopefully, by the time you are further along in law school Examsoft will be compatible with Macs. Thus far there hasn't been much of an outcry for using Macs with Examsoft. I can count the number of Mac users on one hand in my law school. Yours may be very different.

    By the way, good luck with law school. Don't let the first year intimidate you. It gets easier once you get past the basics. Over the summer take some time learning how to read and properly brief a case so you don't spend the first few weeks missing things. Be prepared to stand up in front of 100 of your peers (all of whom think they are smarter than you) and enjoy the public humiliation. If it were easy everyone would be an attorney. Most of all, try to enjoy it. It can be a lot of fun.
     
  4. ldburroughs macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    #4
    By the way ... I forgot to mention that I would be willing to part with my Gateway laptop if you are unable to find something that is relatively reliable. Check out Examsoft's minimum requirements before you make your purchase. You'll want something running XP so it has a quick reboot. The first part of each exam requires you to reboot your machine so Examsoft can lock it up. My Examsoft laptop is a Pentium III, 1000 Mhz, 512 Ram, and comes with a cdrw/dvd optical drive and a 3.5 drive. The optical drive and floppy drive are swappable. I used it my first two years and it is in great working condition. Look for something along those lines and you will be able to get through the exams with ease. Again, good luck!
     
  5. wowoah thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2003
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    #5
    Thanks! I'll probably wait a little longer before I go out searching for a laptop, but I guess that's the choice I'm stuck with. Thanks also for the law school tips, little intimidated about my first year, but hopefully it won't be as bad as I hope.

    For all I can see, ExamSoft just seems like a really basic word processor that's capable of locking out your system. I don't see how this would take more than a week or two to port.
     
  6. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #6
    still waiting to hear from schools, but I hope to have this same problem myself soon... it's just as well, IMO, because I don't really want their examsoft crap on my mac...
     
  7. wowoah thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 16, 2003
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    #7
    i've only heard from one, still waiting on five. Can I ask which ones you applied to?
     
  8. archangel37 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2005
    #8
    I too recently ran into this problem. Columbia, Boalt, and I think UCLA all use Examsoft's software. I think I'll end up getting a decent Windows laptop...but do they exist? Crap. Never thought I'd go to the dark side.
     
  9. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

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    Nov 7, 2003
  10. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #10
    You can't use Virtual PC. One of the purposes of this ExamSoft is to lock down your system while the exam. With Virtual PC, you still have access to the rest of the system.
     
  11. madforrit macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    #11
    My girlfriend had to switch back to PC just because of ExamSoft (Hastings). All my hard work gone to waste! I do know there are some mac users at her school who bought a cheap PC laptop just to take the exams...
     
  12. Chrispy macrumors 68020

    Chrispy

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2004
    Location:
    Avon, IN
    #12
    I would say if you have a few hundred bucks and you are looking for something to just use for Examsoft then just buy the cheapest Dell you can find. If you are looking to compeletley replace your mac while in law school then go with an IBM Thinkpad. Windows is not nearly has nice as mac, but it is not the end of the world to have to use it for a few years :rolleyes: I hope everything goes well for you at law school.

    Just a note: I would keep the mac and get a cheap windows laptop ;)
     
  13. wowoah thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2003
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    #13
    That's pretty much what I plan to do, get a cheap Dell or IBM off eBay and clean it out so that it runs nothing other than ExamSoft - its sole reason for existence. Hopefully if I don't even open IE I shouldn't get much spyware on it.

    Meanwhile I'll whip out my Powerbook during classes for notes :)
     
  14. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #14
    In a word...Sager.

    Chapman University offers Laptops to Law Students for either a small fee for free. You should check out if your school offers that.
    I would buy a powerbook and use their free laptop or the library for such exams. I wouldn't want to buy a windows laptop just because of examsoft.
     
  15. Undecided macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #15
    The way I see it, this is just one more reason not to go to law school in the first place. :D

    It's not too late!! Run away, run away!!
     
  16. anotherjeff macrumors regular

    anotherjeff

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    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Honolulu
    #16
    At my law school they let the kids without laptops or those on macs to use the law school's computer lab PCs to run examsoft.
     
  17. Balin64 macrumors 6502a

    Balin64

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    In a Mauve Dream
    #17
    Hmmmm

    I would take my tests on campus using a computer lab. Why should you incur an additional cost? If your Mac is your main computer, use it for notes, to cram and to become a lawyer. Use the uni's computers to take tests.
     
  18. Schroedinger macrumors regular

    Schroedinger

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    #18
    Check with the school

    I got a windows laptop when I came to school (Michigan) b/c I already had a mac desktop and it seemed the easiest approach. I would recommend calling your school's IT department, though. There is a push here to get examsoft on Macs (since Michigan undergrad is very Mac friendly). Right now it's buggy and you use at your own risk, but it is coming.

    If it's possible, though, I would recommend getting a dedicated windows laptop for school. If you can afford something tiny, use it only for school. Keep the other computer for all the fun stuff you do. With limited demands windows tends to behave itself, and it makes life much easier generally. The last thing you want is to log on to Lexis or Westlaw and find that Safari or Firefox or IE for the mac doesn't support the page.

    Just my two cents.
     
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #19
    Yeah, Samsung makes a good laptop. IBM is great, but quite expensive.

    And consider "renting" a laptop if you can't borrow. But surely you have a friend who can part ways with his lappie for a day or 2.

    Again, rent a laptop. Don't buy a cheap, unreliable piece of crap to take exams with.
     
  20. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #20
    This is true, but...I can prove that WestLaw and Lexis Nexis both run fine in Camino, Safari, and Firefox. I have more permissions than students do, but I do use them just fine without any quirks on a Mac.
     
  21. Schroedinger macrumors regular

    Schroedinger

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    #21
    maybe

    The newest Firefox update has been causing me problems. Just something to keep in mind.

    BTW, congrats on law school. Have fun now, b/c you're about to get on one major hellride.
     

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