Mac not compatible with Examsoft in law school.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by ldburroughs, Feb 27, 2005.

  1. ldburroughs macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2005
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I would have switched sooner but I was convinced I couldn't becuase the mac is not compatible with the software many law schools use to administer exams. I've checked on this and as of last semester this was still the case. The way this program works is once you open it, it restarts your system and disables all other running programs on your system with the obvious exception of Examsoft. For this reason, you cannot run an emulator to allow your Mac to run windows software ... that would be disabled in this example as well.

    I'm through with avoiding the Mac because of one useless software application. I'm sitting for the bar this July and it is a hand written exam. There are a few product testers for typing on a computer but for the majority of exam takers it is all by hand. For this reason, I've dropped the typed exams at school in favor of building up my hand writing endurance. In the process I am dumping my Widnows based laptop and its "eye candy" START menu.

    I'm not a full convert because my desktop is too good to give up. Well, it will be if Microsoft ever releases the op sys for a 64 bit processor (I know there is a beta release but it doesn't support enough drivers to make it worth the hassle ... and not to mention the fact that there are no programs written for this environment either). I've had one of these for quite some time and it absolutely flies ... but I can't utilize its full potential.

    So far I love my Mac! I wish I had purchased it sooner. It would have made law school a little bit more enjoyable. As for my desktop ... it has now been relegated to that of a very fancy hand built TIVO. Based on Steve Jobs dislike for the boob tube, I don't think we will be seeing a mac product anytime soon that will serve this purpose.
  2. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    I also plan to go to law school soon. For Examsoft I plan to get the cheapest PC laptop I can find, and use that for 3 years, then selling it for pennies. But I don't get it, what does Examsoft really stop you from doing? What stops you from opening Examsoft on your PC, and opening Google on your Mac?
  3. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Feb 16, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    my fiance just started law school, and ended up bying a PC laptop in order to be compatible with what i guess is the same program. she was pretty sad abou t it, because i had made a switcher of her right before we started undergrad. so anyway, it was right around exam time and her school sent out an email telling everyone that if they had a mac they should report to some office to have them install the software for them. she was really pissed, and we were both kinda like WTF, but apparently there is some way to make it work (assuming it really is the same software in both schools).
  4. ldburroughs thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2005
    Virginia Beach, VA
    When Examsoft reboots your system it starts with the program. It will not let you do anything other than work with Examsoft. The professor can even disable the spell check if he/she desires (and they usually do.) When you attempt to exit out of Examsoft the program allows you to burn your answers to a cd and it then proceeds to reboot your system again to restore it to its original setup. You can count the number of Mac users on two hands in many law schools that emphasize using Examsoft.

    The bar has not caught up to modern technology yet and is still in its infancy with typing your answers. The Mac users in my school take theirs by hand and don't bother with the software. It is a good practice to get into if you plan on graduating anytime soon. In the future they will likely make it compatible. The demand just isn't there yet. This was my only holdout! It was frustrating to say the least. It's all over in May. To all of you who are just starting ... good luck. This is the least of your worries.
  5. anotherjeff macrumors regular


    Dec 7, 2004
    Mac in law school, not a problem

    A lot of kids use macs in law school or don't even have a laptop so it's not a big deal.

    I've got a mac and when it comes to exam time those of use on macs or without a laptop are allowed to use the computer lab for our law exams.

    I like this setup since there is less people, you get a bigger keyboard, and you don't wait as long for the test to be handed out.
  6. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Apr 10, 2003
    The "Garden" state
    I think the type of examsoft, etc, depends on the school. My roommate goes to BU Law, and she has to take the examsoft test and save it to a floppy drive. Essentially once examsoft starts up the only thing accessible is the testing software. i think it actually boots off the floppy, from what she's told me. There is a backup stored deep into the hard drive in case of problems (one semester all sony vaios had a problem with examsoft and it took three days and tech people from examsoft headquarters flown in to retreive the tests).
    At BU it's pc-only, but it sounds like some schools do it differently.
  7. nerdykarim macrumors member

    Feb 14, 2005
    atlanta, ga
    i recently switched (bought my powerbook yesterday) and this was sort of a concern for me. i'm going to be applying to law schools in two years and i'd only heard rumors of this examsoft thing...thanks for clarifying it for me.

    is there any chance that there will be a mac version in the next couple years? is the best way to get around it to buy a 499 pc laptop or something? or taking the tests by hand? it seems like i'd prefer to take them on a computer, but i dont know if that's worth 500.00 to me.

    i'm assuming the tests aren't "takehome" so you couldn't buy a 200.00 cheapo desktop? but you can take them in computer labs?


  8. Honortgoat macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2003
    Sierra Foothills, California
    I'm in my third year of law school and have had to deal with the Examsoft issue. Many semesters I've borrowed a laptops from various friends for a few days. This semester I'll be using an ancient pc laptop that my parents were going to recycle. If you don't have friend who are willing to let you borrow their laptop, go out and buy a cheap used one.

    And as for how the software saves data - I can add two more media. George Mason used to allow you to save on flash drivers; now you can only take it if you have an ethernet connection via which the software can store the data on a server.

    Although I've made do so far, GMU has had a survey re examsoft every semester and each semester I ask for them to find a mac accessible program. The best way to encourage mac acceptance by law school IT folks is to let them know we want support.
  9. Beck446 macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2003
    Here's the deal: You have to take these tests on PC laptops. Taking the test by hand is not an option if you really care about your grade. Considering the price of law school, an extra $500 for a cheap PC laptop is the least of your worries. If you can borrow from a friend, fine, but don't count on it. Your friends are going to be taking their tests too (unless by friend you mean someone outside of school). Point is that you should add $500 to the price of your Mac because you're going to have to buy a PC too. No way around it. Don't try to buck the system. I did, and I just sold my PB to get the crappy HP I'm typing on now. I could have two laptops, but I just wasn't raised that way. Waste not want not.

    Silver lining: I can actually look forward to a G5 powerbook rather than worry about how outdated the G5 was going to make my PB :)

    Anyhow, good luck in Law School!
  10. ldburroughs thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2005
    Virginia Beach, VA
    If it is Examsoft (and it usually is) you can now burn to cd. When I started law school in 2002 this capability didn't exist. They would hand out a floppy at the beginning of each exam and you would save directly to it. There will be an unreadable copy stored on your hard drive somewhere. As of last semester, you had the option to use cd or 3.5. I think they are trying to persuade users to burn to cd rather than providing everyone with floppies.

    As far as the software itself goes you simply download it from the site, pay $30 or so to activate it, and you are pretty much good to go. They used to charge $10 per exam but have since charged a flat rate which saves you bundles in the end. In fact, I think $30 gets you through the whole year. It doesn't actually boot from the floppy or cd; it is run directly from the hard drive. Some law schools have a typing room and a blue book room for the exam. In my case you had to bring your own laptop, no exceptions. Other schools may be a bit more liberal and allow you to use their systems, but I would check on that before you take the exam.

    When it comes to typing vs. writing, don't assume your grade will improve if you type. It's all anonymous in the end and they shouldn't grade them any differently. I found that any mistakes you make while typing really show up to the reader. Since the professor doesn't have to decipher your writing he can focus his attention on your errors. These are just thoughts and certainly not fact. I did just as well writing as I did typing so to each his own. The important thing is knowing the material, not whether you type or write.

    Bottom line ... get a Mac and use it during school if you can afford it. If you want to type, just know that you may have to make arrangements twice a year to use a Gates product. Of course the old saying still holds true ... live like a lawyer while in law school and you'll likely live like a law student when you become a lawyer. In other words, spend your money wisely. If you can't afford it (like me) you will have to endure three long years staring at the START menu at the bottom of your screen during class. Wait a minute ... I mean paying attention to the professor as he attempts to teach using the Socratic method. It's not so bad. You'll make it through.
  11. Beck446 macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2003
    Well, typing your exam will improve your grade because you can get more stuff down. These things are graded on a point scale, so it is insane to write this thing in cursive. Just wait... it's quite a sight (and sound!)... to look around the room and see hundreds of people going crazy on their machines. It's enough to make any sane person have a panic attack.

    I go to a pretty good school and NOBODY takes their tests by hand. And, just to note, nobody here burns their test on CD either. You've got to use a floppy.
  12. ldburroughs thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2005
    Virginia Beach, VA
    True ... the majority of students take their exam on computer but it will not affect your grade the slightest bit if you simply write the answer the professor is looking for. You don't get points for typing the most. You need to hit each of the issues with a precise answer which includes a thorough analysis. This can easily be accomplished by hand. Also, CD burning is new and may not have made it to your school yet. It could have been a beta thing with Examsoft. Who knows?

    I also attend a pretty good law school and there are still students who take their exams by hand. It's hard to imagine NOBODY hand writes their answers at your school. The schools in Virginia still see a good number of students take their exams by hand. I can't speak for other State's schools. The number of people typing increases each year and I'm sure it will be the norm, if not required, in years to come. But to claim NOBODY hand writes is way off base. Some of the best and brightest not only take exams by hand but take notes by hand as well. I don't know how they do it but they do. Some with computers play games during class which is even more amazing. That's a topic for another thread.

    The only reason I suggested giving the old handwritten method a try for Mac users is the bar exam is handwritten. At least it is in Virginia. If you are not handy with a pen you will be doomed if you plan to take the bar this July. I know type written bar exams are on the horizon but that won't help me. It was quite an experience to switch from typing to handwriting my answers last semester and I'm glad I experimented with it. My first two years were exclusively laptop based exams. I never had a problem with the technology. By the way, my grades were consistent whether I typed or wrote my answers. When I typed my answers I would often run out of room (word limit.) I type so much faster than I write. With handwritten exams, I had to be very picky with what I chose to write because I would often run out of time.

    In the end it will depend on the school, the year you attend, and the state you wish to sit for the bar. The reason I started this was to forewarn Mac users of the challenges associated with using Macs in law school. In any event Examsoft is not compatible with Macs. If you are thinking about law school check with the school's tech department to see what they recommend. I'm sure things will change.
  13. Beck446 macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2003
    Yeah, you're right, there could be some who take the exam by hand. I just don't know anyone who does. But to be fair, you have admitted yourself that you cannot get as much down by hand as when typing. Now none of us know exactly how grading works or what the magic secret to a good grade is, but there do exist classes w/ no word limit on exams, and on those kinds of tests, no matter what anybody says, I would rather be typing out 2x what I would write.

    But, in the interest of full disclosure, I am in a bit of a bad mood regarding exam soft today. I sold my PB this morning :mad:

    My advise would be this. If you are going to experiment w/ hand writing a test, don't do it in your first year. You have enough to worry about.
  14. ldburroughs thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2005
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I agree with you completely. The first year is not the year to experiment. For those who have not yet started you will understand what Beck446 means after your first semester. Law school is like nothing you have ever experienced in the academic world. You may need the extra time and space to type as much as you can. The only exception I would put forth is for someone who types slower than they write. I highly doubt such a person would be a member of this forum.

    I'm truly sorry to hear about your powerbook. It is truly a shame. The good news is many law firms are coming around and making room for Mac users. Software compatibility is a small issue in this realm but it is much more promising that law school. I have a Trademark prof. who swears by Mac and uses any opportunity he gets to indoctrinate us. Believe it or not he is the reason I went Mac. Talk about pressure.

    The first year is not a year to experiment. You need as much comfort as you can assume on your own. The last thing you need is added stress. You'll get enough of that as you plod along.

    Again, sorry to hear about your misfortune. The bright side of your transaction is you must have made someone really happy with your sale. I wish there were something we could do about the whole Examsoft thing.

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