I have yet to take the bar exam, but I am pretty sure when I do it will take less hassle than taking a midterm here in Thailand.
First, I needed a uniform: one white button up with short sleeves, one black skirt hanging pass the knee, a brown belt with a belt buckle showing the school logo, a pin over the heart with the same design, 4 silver buttons only available at the campus bookstore, and a lapel pin marking me a law student. Oh, and closed toed black shoes. How much of the outfit is required and how much is tradition I have yet to discover. The students treat it all as mandatory, but I talked to one professor who thought wearing the uniform was totally optional. So who really knows?
Second, I needed a complete school ID. For most students, this does not pose a problem. But remember, I needed a photo of myself about the size of my thumb nail. I ended up getting it right before the exam. Except they would not just sell me one, so I now have like 9 thumb nail size photos. I have no clue what they are good for because they are too tiny to serve as passport photos and you have to squint to see my face. Maybe you could put it in a locket?
Third, I needed to enter through a specific door. This might sound normal, but it was not the normal classroom door. I had to go outside and find an outdoor staircase. Exactly how this prevents cheating, I am not sure. But the instructors refused to let me in until I did it.
Fourth, I could take a blue or black pen and white out with me to my desk but that was it.
Fifth, I then had to hand write the exam. I know people have hand written exams for hundreds of years, but if anyone suggested such a thing at Madison, we’d probably just stare at them in bafflement before loudly protesting. Unless your computer dies in the middle of a test, no one opts to hand write exams. We barely tolerate scantrons.
Sixth, the test administrators checked our IDs multiple times and stalked up and down staring at us while we took the exam.
Seventh, they kept giving instructions in Thai. I would look confused and sometimes they would walk over and translate and sometimes not.
Eighth, if anyone needed to go to the restroom, they needed to take one of the test administrators with them.
Ninth, I thought the midterm started at 9:30 but it started at 2 so I had a lot of time to kill. That is not on the school and totally on me, but it sure made me jumpy.
All these things would seem pretty normal if I were taking, say, the ACT or LSAT. But I was taking a midterm worth 40% for a junior level class. Overkill much?
Yet overall, in typical Thai fashion, though we jumped through a thousand hoops to enter the classroom, most students did not even show up on time. It seemed an unspoken rule existed that you could show up at any point at least within the first fifteen minutes, flip over the test, and start. It did not matter if we were all in the room. It did not matter when you left. You just came and took the test…all while keeping your ID on your desk so the test administrator could check on it a few times!