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Bar Exam Results May Be Revised

July 30, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The earthquake that shook Southern California on Tuesday might have thousands of would-be lawyers shouting, ''Objection!''

The first part of the three-day state bar exam was being held when the 5.4-magnitude quake hit, affecting 4,000 to 5,000 test-takers in Los Angeles, Anaheim and Ontario. Now the State Bar of California is considering revising test results if it appears the quake negatively affected test-takers.

''It was a good solid jolt,'' said Robert Hawley, deputy executive director of the State Bar of California. ''It unnerved the test-takers right there at that moment.''

After a scheduled two-hour break, they resumed testing in the afternoon. Still, Hawley said, expert test consultants will look at the results and determine whether the earthquake may have disrupted them.

''My guess is that ... it really didn't have a material impact,'' he said.

If the experts determine the quake affected the test scores, they will recommend adjustments so that all 9,000 test-takers statewide have an even field, Hawley said.

For example, Hawley said, the consultants might recommend ''recalibrating'' the exams by throwing out all the results for one or more questions.

''We have a test that can lose a piece or two and still be valid'' to determine the abilities of would-be lawyers, Hawley said.

The bar has had to make similar adjustments in previous years because of disasters such as earthquakes, floods or power outages, but it is unlikely the entire test will be thrown out or retaken, Hawley said.

''That's never been done,'' he said.

The decision, which will be made by a state bar committee, won't be made for several months since test results usually are released in November, Hawley said.