90 people who passed GA Bar Exam told that they failed - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

90 people who passed GA Bar Exam told that they failed

File image of standardized testing. (Source: WTOC) File image of standardized testing. (Source: WTOC)

Ninety people told they failed the Georgia Bar Association exam, when in fact, they passed.

According to the Board of Bar Examiners, it happened to people taking the test last July and this February.

The board says it is working to notify each person about the scoring process error.

The just received a letter in the mail. It reads in part, “The Board of Bar Examiners has determined that you are one of 90 people who passed the Georgia Bar examinations administered in July 2015 or February 2016, despite prior notification that you had failed to pass."

This means some applicants could have been working for almost a year as a lawyer. Some may have put their lives on hold, preparing to re-take the test.

"A lot of people have had their lives dramatically upset by this and so it's the kind of thing that's not going to be forgotten and that people are going to be talking about for years,” said Savannah Law School Assistant Dean Jim Hicks. 

WTOC spoke exclusively with one Savannah Law student who thought she failed when she didn't.

She lost a big job opportunity at the Chatham County District Attorney's Office. She was interning there while she was preparing for the Bar Exam.

They had an open position which she was a strong candidate for but needed to pass the test. Which she did, she just didn't know it.

Carri Johnson could have possibly landed a job at the Chatham County District Attorney's Office a few months ago. Instead, she's working outside of her field at Kate Spade in Savannah.

"I had to take another Bar Exam again for no reason which any attorney will tell you is painful,” said Johnson, a Savannah Law School graduate. "We'll never get that time back but I guess I'm learning to be OK with it."

Hicks says there are two graduates from his school that we know of who passed the test, but were told they failed.

"There's the emotional toll. There's the embarrassment. Never mind the fact that there's a lot of lost income,” said Hicks.

There were two separate errors. In July of 2015, they had a problem with the way they adjust test scores to make sure results are consistent from year to year.

In February of 2016, they changed the methodology used to score the test but then changed it back. Meaning some people who they thought had flunked actually passed.

"I think, obviously, there's going to be a bit of a confidence problem with the validity of the Bar Exam at this point,” said Hicks.

As for Johnson, now that she knows she passed she can expand her job search.

"At this point, I'm just thankful to have the whole ordeal behind me,” she said.

So, what happens now for those 90 applicants who thought they failed but actually passed? The Board of Bar Examiners says if the applicants took the exam again after thinking they failed the previous time - like Carri - they will be reimbursed for that exam.

That said, the board noted, the applicants' investment of time and other factors definitely outweighs the cost of any test.

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