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An estimated 3-minute read

82% of 2010 grads want bar exam dead; But does attempted poll hack prove exam opponents are more dishonest?

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The Legally India poll on what the Bar Council of India (BCI) should do next about the bar exam attracted more than 500 (genuine) voters, with 69 per cent of self-proclaimed grads wanting the exam cancelled in 2010.

A total of 13 per cent want the exam to be scrapped forever, while roughly the same percentage were content with an exam in March, subject to them being allowed to practice until then.

Less than 5 per cent think the BCI should hold the exam on 6 March and not allow graduates to practice until after they pass it.

This is a fairly unexpected result, also judging by the regular comments left on Legally India by disgruntled students. And after all, most graduates can be expected to vote in their own interest and in favour of making their life easier by not having to study for and sit another exam.

Perhaps more interesting than the results, however, was a technical glitch.

Due to a technical error on Legally India, which was entirely my fault, multiple voting was possible on the poll in the first 24-odd hours.

Total votes rapidly climbed to more than 1,200. We fixed the error when we noticed it by consolidating all duplicate votes, reducing the total vote count to only 251 (don’t worry, no legitimate votes were lost, even of multiple voters!).

But on further analysis of the recorded voting data it became blatantly apparent that at least 15 voters had submitted between 50 and 120 votes each. Yes, 120!

And, of the worst offending duplicate voters every -  yes every single one - voted to have the exam cancelled either completely or just for the exam for the 2010 batch. Over and over again.

For the most click-happy voters this process took an average of between 10 and 30 minutes of repeatedly clicking “Vote”, “Back” and “Vote” again, or refreshing the page over and over again.

Now again, let me raise my hands and say that the only reason that this was even possible is because of my own clear and admitted negligence, and you can not expect a poll which allows multiple voting to not get abused.

However, several questions can now be asked, employing some cod psychology.

  1. Do some 2010 grads hate the idea of the bar exam so much they are willing to ‘cheat’ slightly and spend considerable time and effort to try and skew the results?
  2. Why did only those 2010 grads opposing the bar exam from being held spend so much time trying to rig an online poll? Some of those who voted for the other options did vote more than once, but roughly 90% of all of the almost 1000 duplicate votes wanted to scrap the exam.
  3. Do those opposing the exam completely this year or forever have lower moral standards about what, although benign, must have been apparent at the time was ‘cheating’. I.e., is opposing the bar exam the preserve of the ‘bad’?
  4. Do ‘good’ students who do not ‘cheat’ do not oppose the bar exam as vehemently?

Food for thought or random correlation?

And for the avoidance of doubt, no offence intended to any ‘cheaters’, nor is this blog meant to address any of the relative merits of having a bar exam or not having one, nor am I saying that it is wrong or right to oppose or support the bar exam. Nor, just to be clear, do I mean that all bar exam opponents are ‘cheaters’ (clearly not, judging by the poll result). All I looked at here in this blog was the statistical correlation between ‘cheating’ and not ‘cheating’.

Call it an unintentional psychological experiment if you will.

Anyway, should we hold another poll to find out what you think?

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