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It may be hard to fathom, but in a room of approximately 300 aspiring lawyers, only one had the boldness to object. To the bar exam, that is. An essay question on the February bar exam interchanged the phrases “preliminary injunction” and “summary judgment.” But if test takers were confused, they kept it to themselves. The question, which appears on the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions’ Web site, asked examinees to draft a memorandum analyzing whether a preliminary injunction should be granted to stop the publication of a book called “Harry Sotter, The Sorcerer is Stoned.” The essay question presented a hypothetical case in which a former employee of the publisher of “Harry Potter” children’s books had written a satire. The question revolved around whether the former employee had breached her employment contract. Hulett H. “Bucky” Askew, director of bar admissions, confirmed that the question contained a “typo.” After setting the stage for asking whether a preliminary injunction was warranted, further instructions told test takers to “analyze all of the factors applicable to a request for summary judgment and then explain why that analysis leads you to conclude that the motion should or should not be granted.” According to Askew, the words “summary judgment” should have read “preliminary injunction.” But by the time the lone test taker asked him about it, 25 minutes of a 45-minute session had ticked away. Askew said he then called one of the six bar examiners who wrote the question, ascertained there was an error and had to make a snap decision. He decided it was better not to inform the nervous College Park convention room because there didn’t seem to be much confusion. EXPLANATIONS EQUAL DISTRACTIONS Experience has taught Askew that if you can hear a pin drop during a bar exam, it signals that everything is going right. Minor distractions can rattle nerves, lead to complaints and frustrate the nervous test takers who have but one thing separating them from practicing law in Georgia: a passing score on the timed, two-day exam. When every second counts, making an announcement during an exam is not a decision to be taken lightly, he said. In his 14 years with the Office of Bar Admissions, Askew’s learned that interruptions can cause more problems than they solve. People will ask for more time, which is hard to grant on a tight schedule. Or they’ll want more blue books, which is against the rules. Because he had fielded only one question, he said, he felt the typo wasn’t causing enough of a problem to warrant interrupting the test. After the test, he said, several students asked him about it, but no one seemed too confused — or concerned. Some said they answered the preliminary injunction question anyway — ignoring the mistake. Those who answered the summary judgment question, Askew said, weren’t penalized. The graders for the exam were instructed to give points for either answer, he said. He added that those who answered both questions were given extra credit. February bar scores were some of the lowest in 20 years, but Askew said he didn’t think this test question caused the dip in point totals. THE IMPORTANCE OF SECRECY Askew said the typo was the result of a word-processing error. The test is proofread by his office and the bar examiners, but it can’t be circulated very widely, he said, because of concerns about keeping the test secret until exam day. He said typos are “probably somewhat inevitable when we have a closed system because of security. We can have only a limited number of people reading them.” To future test takers, he advised, “It’s absolutely OK to ask an administrator if they don’t understand a question. We tell them it’s OK to raise your hand.”

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