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You won’t be able to use your Surface Book if you want to take the bar in Tennessee

You won’t be able to use your Surface Book if you want to take the bar in Tennessee


Use of device with detachable keyboards also banned

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If you’re planning on using your Surface Book or a laptop with the Windows 10 Creators Update on it to take the bar exam in Tennessee next month, you’re out of luck. The state bar has prohibited test-takers from using the device, and anyone using a device with the new updates will have to make some adjustments.

According to the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, the directive comes from limitations with the exam software, SofTest, which doesn’t support the Windows 10 Creators Update, or any Surface Book other than a Surface Pro. Users will be required to change some compatibility settings in order to take the test. The board is also recommending that users disable automatic updates for their computer, because the updates can cause the device to freeze if the user is actively using the exam software. Test-takers who are planning to use a computer with the Windows 10 Creators Update installed are asked to notify the board by July 12th, which apparently will require them to sign an additional addendum to their Laptop Agreement. Violators will be asked to leave and “will have to answer to the Board regarding their failure to follow instructions.”

Failure to comply means ejection from the exam and a summons to the board for an explanation

Users who don’t make the change won’t be allowed to use their laptop, and Surface devices or other tablets with a detachable keyboard won’t be permitted at all. Violate the rule? Ejection from the exam and a summons to the board regarding their failure to follow instructions. The same goes for anyone found with a device-compatible Pen in their possession.

MacBook users should be okay, but the board also noted that the software will disable a MacBook Pro’s TouchBar, which other organizations have banned around the country, because they’re “not compatible with the security features of the ExamSoft software.”

The prohibition was first spotted by @thirdscrivener, who questioned why the detachable keyboard is specifically an issue, noting that he’s “taken multiple law school exams” on his own Surface Book, each without issue. While the exam software does work for Surface Pro (which must use an external keyboard) users and iPads, the Tennessee law board simply isn’t permitting them.