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

wowoah

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 16, 2003
187
0
Berkeley, CA
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! :)
 

Applespider

macrumors G4
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.
 

ldburroughs

macrumors 6502
Feb 25, 2005
258
0
Virginia Beach, VA
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.
 

ldburroughs

macrumors 6502
Feb 25, 2005
258
0
Virginia Beach, VA
wowoah said:
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! :)
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!
 

wowoah

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 16, 2003
187
0
Berkeley, CA
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.
 

QCassidy352

macrumors G4
Mar 20, 2003
10,708
2,919
Bay Area
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...
 

archangel37

macrumors member
Apr 1, 2005
47
0
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.
 

madforrit

macrumors regular
Jul 23, 2002
138
0
Berkeley, CA
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...
 

Chrispy

macrumors 68020
Dec 27, 2004
2,126
1
Indiana
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 ;)
 

wowoah

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 16, 2003
187
0
Berkeley, CA
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 :)
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,753
146
archangel37 said:
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.
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.
 

Undecided

macrumors 6502a
Mar 4, 2005
692
74
California
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!!
 

anotherjeff

macrumors regular
Dec 7, 2004
137
0
Honolulu
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.
 

Balin64

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2002
772
1
In a Mauve Dream
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.
 

Schroedinger

macrumors regular
Feb 12, 2004
241
0
Baltimore, MD
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.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,415
124
Location Location Location
archangel37 said:
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.
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.
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,753
146
Schroedinger said:
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.
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.
 

Schroedinger

macrumors regular
Feb 12, 2004
241
0
Baltimore, MD
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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