Instructions Governing The Specialty Exams
Q: When and where is the exam taking place?
A: The Exam Calendar is available here.
The exams will be offered in two locations:
Raleigh: at the North Carolina State Bar office on 217 E. Edenton Street. You can find directions to the State Bar here:
You will need to park in one of the lots close to the bar building and walk. Please allow plenty of time to walk to the State Bar. Find information about parking here.
Charlotte: at the Mecklenburg County Bar building, on 2850 Zebulon Avenue. You can find directions to the Mecklenburg County Bar here. Visitors to the building may park anywhere in the parking lot.
Q: An emergency came up and I am unable to sit for the exam. What should I do?
A: Please notify the state bar as soon as possible. There may be an alternate test date available. If not, in most cases, you can reapply the following year, pay $50 and not have to resubmit peer references.
Q: What time should I arrive at the exam location?
A: Arrive early. Please arrive before 8:30 am for check in. Remember to bring a driver’s license or some other form of identification with a recent photo. The exam will begin promptly at 9:00 am.
Q: Where can I find out what days my examination is being held?
A: Dates can be found here.
Q: I would like to take my exam on the computer? What do I need to do?
A: You will need to provide your own laptop and you will need to download the exam software two weeks prior to exam day. The examination room is equipped to plug in your laptop. There are no loaner laptops available. Additional information about the computerized exams is available here.
Q: What should I know before deciding between handwriting my exam or using the computer software?
A: If you are open to the idea of taking a computerized exam, we encourage you to download the software and try out the mock exam. You can always switch to handwriting the exam (as late as the day of the exam) as all applicants are provided a paper copy on their scheduled exam day. On exam day, you will NOT be able to switch to a laptop from handwriting, because the software must be downloaded in advance. There are no additional fees to handwrite your exam; however, you must write legibly in order for the specialty committee to grade your exam responses.
Q: What if my handwriting is difficult to read?
All applicants electing to submit a handwritten exam must do so in handwriting that is clearly legible. If an applicant submits a handwritten exam that is not legible as determined by unanimous vote of the specialty committee grading the exam, the specialty committee shall not attempt to grade the exam and shall fail the applicant’s exam. Absent an approved request for accommodations due to a professionally diagnosed and documented disability, the specialty committee, the board, and the staff will not be required to undertake any additional efforts to clarify an illegible handwritten exam or otherwise make the illegible exam suitable for grading, and the applicant may not re-take or otherwise re-submit the exam for grading. If an examinee requires any special accommodations, these arrangements must be made with the Specialization staff prior to sitting for the exam. Please contact our office at 919-828-4620 to inquire.
Q: I would like to handwrite my exam. Do I need to bring my own pens?
A: Yes. You will need to bring pens if you plan to handwrite on the exam.
Q: Do I need to bring my own pencils for the scantron portions of the exam?
A: Standard No. 2 pencils will be available at the exam location. If you prefer a mechanical lead pencil, please be sure it is the equivalent of a No. 2 pencil.
Q: Will the exam have my name or other personal information on it?
A: No, after checking in and finding a seat in the examination room, examinees will be given an envelope containing a perforated card upon which their name and an examination number has been written. Examinees will be asked to separate the card, keep the portion with only the exam number, and seal the other half in the envelope that will then be handed to a proctor. Examinees should retain the half of the card which has their exam numbers. This examination number will be used on typed exams in the exam software. The number is also to be written on all examination papers by an examinee that is handwriting an exam. The examinee should not place his or her name or initials on the examination papers or type any identifying information in the software. The exams are graded and referred to by their examination number to maintain anonymity.
Q: Can I bring my own books, papers, or personal effects to the examination?
A: Books and Papers: Only appellate practice, bankruptcy, criminal, juvenile delinquency, and utilities examinees are allowed to bring open book materials. See the Exam Guides for further information. Before the exams begin, examinees will be asked to put away all books, papers, and personal effects under the tables in the examination room.
Calculators: Some practice areas allow specialty examinees to bring a calculator, but any such calculator must be silent. You may not use the calculator on your cell phone. To prevent disruption in the examination area, please do not use watches that emit a periodic beep. All cell phones must be turned off. The proctor will inform you of the time remaining in each examination session.
Other materials: Only materials given to you by the proctor may be used during the examination. Scratch paper will be distributed before the examination. Please be sure to write your examination number on each piece of scratch paper used. You will be given scratch paper to start the morning exam session, but can take more if needed. Examinees should bring their own pens if handwriting the examination.
Personal effects: Disposable ear plugs are permitted, ear buds or headphones are NOT permitted. Items like chapstick and cough drops are permitted as well as personal water bottles and/or coffee mugs. For any items not mentioned, please contact our office at 919-828-4620 to inquire.
Q: Can I use a calculator?
A: Only bankruptcy, estate planning, social security, and workers’ compensation law specialty examinees may bring a calculator. Any such calculator must be silent. The calculator will be activated on the software for those specialty areas as well. You may not use the calculator on your cell phone.
Q: What is the layout of the examination room?
A: The examination room will be set up in a classroom style. If an examinee requires any special accommodations, these arrangements must be made with the Specialization staff prior to sitting for the exam. Please contact our office at 919-828-4620 to inquire.
Q: How long is the exam?
A: Most exams are a total of 6 hours. The morning of exam day is three hours with an hour and a half break for lunch. The afternoon of exam day is three hours beginning approximately at 2:00 pm and ending at approximately 5:00 pm. You may not need the entire three hours to complete the examination. The exceptions to these times are appellate practice, bankruptcy, privacy, and real property law exams. Please see the following questions for more information.
Q: Can I leave if I finish the morning exam session early?
A: Yes, you may leave the building when you have finished. Examinees will not be permitted to re-enter during that same exam session. When an examinee completes a part of the examination, the proctors will collect the examination booklet, envelope, scantron sheets, and scratch paper. Examinees using the exam software should save their exam and close out of the software before leaving. The examinee is to leave the examination area and return for the next session. All laptops must remain in the exam room during the lunch break.
Q: I am taking the appellate, bankruptcy, privacy, or real property law exam. How is my exam structured?
A: Examinees taking the appellate practice exam:
Exam Day 1: Traditional exam in the morning includes multiple choice and short essay questions. At the end of the three-hour exam, examinees will receive a packet containing the take-home exam portion. The take-home exam is due approximately 10 days later. Instructions regarding the exam will be included in the take home exam packet.
Examinees taking the bankruptcy law exam*:
Exam Day 1: General exam in the morning and subspecialty (business or consumer) in the afternoon.
Exam Day 2: Three-hour exam for examinees taking second subspecialty (business or consumer).
* The order in which the exam is administered may vary depending on exam location and date. Please contact our office if you have questions at 919-828-4620.
Examinees taking the privacy and information security exam:
Exam Day 1: Three-hour exam for examinees which may be scheduled in the morning (8:30 arrival time) or in the afternoon (1:30 arrival time). Please contact our office if you have questions at 919-828-4620.
Examinees taking the real property law exam*:
Exam Day 1: General and title portion of exam in the morning and subspecialty (commercial or residential) in the afternoon.
Exam Day 2: Three-hour exam for examinees taking second subspecialty (commercial or residential)
* The order in which the exam is administered may vary depending on exam location and date. Please contact our office if you have questions 919-828-4620.
Q: Are we allowed to get up to use the restroom during the exam?
A: Yes. Examinees may leave during the examination to go to the restrooms but may not take any exam materials with them. Examinees may not talk with other examinees. After going to the restroom, examinees should return promptly to the examination room.
Q: Is there a lunch break between the morning and afternoon exam sessions?
A: Yes. The lunch break will begin at approximately 12:15 pm. Lunch is on your own. You may either bring your lunch and eat at the exam location or leave the exam location for lunch. Examinees need to return to the exam location to begin checking in for the afternoon session at 1:30 pm. Examinees will not be permitted to remain in the examination room during the lunch break.
Q: Will there be refreshments in the examination room?
A: Yes, soft drinks, coffee, and water will be provided just outside of the examination room and examinees may get refreshments at any time during the examination, but talking or congregating is not permitted at the refreshment table.
EXAM GUIDES/SUBJECT MATTER OUTLINES
Q. Where can I find information on what will be on the exam?
A: You can review the exam guide or subject matter outline for your specialty.
Q: What other resources might help me with studying for the exam?
A: You may find it helpful to talk with a mentor in your specialty area. We provide an exam mentor list of specialists that have recently taken the exam and have volunteered to be a point of contact for any questions you may have.
Q: What if I have a question about the exam content during the examination session?
A: The proctor will be on hand to assist in the administration of the examinations. The proctor is not authorized to answer questions about the examination. If you have a question regarding format or typos let the proctor know.
Q: Should I include recent developments when answering exam questions?
A: Answers to the examination questions should be given in terms of substantive law as it exists on the day of the examination. All recent developments are fair game. Assume that the exam contains a logical question and answer under that assumption. If you discover any typos or question content errors, please let your proctor know.
EXAM OPEN BOOK MATERIALS
Q: Will my exam have open book materials?
A: Only appellate practice, bankruptcy, criminal, juvenile delinquency, social security disability, utilities, and workers’ compensation law exams require or provide open book materials. If you have any questions about what open materials are provided refer to the exam guides on the legal specialization website. If you are still unsure, please contact our office at 919-828-4620.
Q: Who grades the exams?
A: The exams are graded by the corresponding specialty committees with the exception of the bankruptcy and elder law exams, which are graded by the individual organizations that sponsor the exam.
Q: How are exams with subspecialties graded?
A: Examinees seeking certification in both bankruptcy and real property subspecialties will be graded separately on each examination of the two subspecialties. An examinee will be certified as a specialist in only one of the two subspecialties if the examinee passes only one of the examinations.
Q: When will exam results be available?
A: For the specialty areas of appellate practice, criminal law, estate planning, family law, juvenile delinquency, immigration law, social security disability law, real property law, trademark law, and workers’ compensation law, you may check your exam results at 2:00 pm on November 21st on the State Bar specialization website. For the bankruptcy specialties, exam, results are available three-four months after this date. For more information visit www.abcworld.org.
Q: I sat for an exam with two subspecialties and didn’t pass one. What happens now?
A: Examinees seeking certification in both bankruptcy and real property law subspecialties will be graded separately on each examination of the two subspecialties. An examinee will be certified as a specialist in only one of the two subspecialties if the examinee passes only one of the examinations. Once you take and pass one subspecialty, you can re-take the other subspecialty at any time without having to take the general portion of the exam again.