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EXAM LOCATION

Q: When and where is the exam taking place? 

A: The Exam Calendar is available here

2021 Specialty Certification Exams will be offered through ExamSoft Remote Proctoring. Requests for in-person exam administration accommodations may be granted if conditions allow.

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 be prepared to start my exam?

A: Be prepared early. Please be ready before 8:00 am for check in and locating the exam passwords. The exam modules will begin promptly at 8:15 am.

EXAM DAY

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: 2021 exams will be offered only by computer. You will need to provide your own desktop or laptop and you will need to download the exam software two weeks prior to exam day. Additional information about the computerized exams is available here. *Bankruptcy exams are offered by handwriting or through typing essay answers on a laptop.

Q: What should I know before deciding between handwriting my exam or using the computer software?

A: 2021 exams will not have a handwriting option.

Q: What if my handwriting is difficult to read?

2021 exams will be offered through ExamSoft Remote Proctoring. If an examinee requires any special accommodations, these arrangements must be made with the Specialization staff one month prior to sitting for the exam. Please contact our office at dmullen@ncbar.gov to inquire.

Q: Will the exam have my name or other personal information on it?

A: No, all exam registrants will be assigned an exam number. This examination number will be used on all exams in the exam software. The examinee should not type any identifying information in the software. The exams are graded and referred to by their examination number to maintain anonymity.

Q: Can I use my own books, papers, or personal effects during 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 need to put away all books, papers, and personal effects.

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 software will inform you of the time remaining in each examination session.

Other materials: Only materials approved by the State Bar staff may be used during 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 dmullen@ncbar.gov 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: How long is the exam?

A: Most exams are a total of 6 hours. The morning of exam day will include two 90-minute exam modules followed by an hour break for lunch. The afternoon of exam day will begin by 1:30 pm and will also include two 90-minute exam modules ending at approximately 4:45 pm. You may not need the entire 90 minutes to complete any of the exam modules. 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 finish any of the exam sessions early?

A: Yes, you may submit your exam modules when you have finished. 

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 modules in the morning includes multiple choice and short essay questions. 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 Denise Mullen if you have questions.

Examinees taking the privacy and information security exam:

Exam Day 1: Three-hour exam for examinees which may be scheduled in the morning (8:15 start time) or in the afternoon (1:00 start time). Please contact Denise Mullen if you have questions.

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 Denise Mullen if you have questions.

RESTROOM BREAKS

Q: Are we allowed to get up to use the restroom during the exam?

A: No, you must complete the exam module before you leave the room or take a break. The 90-minute exam modules allow for short breaks between sessions. Please use the restroom during the breaks and do not leave the room until you have submitted your exam module.  

LUNCH/REFRESHMENTS

Q: Is there a lunch break between the morning and afternoon exam sessions? 

A: Yes. The lunch break will begin at approximately 12 pm. Examinees need to return to their exam location to begin checking in for the afternoon session at 1 pm. 

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. 

EXAM CONTENT

Q: What if I have a question about the exam content during the examination session? 

A: If you have a question regarding format or typos, please let the staff know following the exam session by emailing Denise Mullen.   


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. 

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 allowed or provided refer to the exam guides on the legal specialization website. If you are still unsure, please contact Denise Mullen.

EXAM GRADING

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 exams. 

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. 

EXAM RESULTS

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 pm on December 2 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.