Colorado Supreme Court

Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.

No, You Can’t Bring That

Some items prohibited at this month’s bar exam are obvious. Others, not so much. But the reason for a strict policy is clear.


Winter 2015                 

Every year, thousands of prospective attorneys pack a clear plastic bag with their survival gear for a grueling test of knowledge — the Colorado Bar Exam.

What you bring in that plastic bag to the exam site is quite restricted and not always obvious. Sure, you can’t bring flashcards on torts or a smart phone loaded with info on negotiable instruments. But you also can’t bring earplugs. Nor can you wear a tie.

“It’s anything that gives you the opportunity to hide contraband,” said Susan Gleeson, Director of Examinations for the Office of Attorney Admissions. “When you have hundreds or a thousand people in a room, we have to be stricter because it’s that much harder to monitor everyone.”

The reasons for the strict policy is two-fold.

The possibility (however remote) that someone sneaks in a cheat sheet is one issue. A bigger issue is someone sneaking questions out of the testing venue. Colorado uses the Multistate Bar Exam, as do all but three jurisdictions in the United States. The National Conference of Bar Examiners identifies certain questions from exam to exam to measure the validity of each test. Basically, the Conference wants to know that a 150 on this month’s test means the same as a 150 on a test a few years back. If someone managed to remove a series of questions from the exam site, the entire country’s exams could be jeopardized.

So when administrators enforce a strict prohibition on certain items and make you take off your winter coat, it’s not to hassle you. It’s to protect the integrity of the exam.

For a full list of prohibited clothing and non-essential items, read page two of the Instructions and Schedule for the Colorado Bar Exam.

James Carlson is the Information Resources Coordinator for the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.