HOW MICHIGAN BAR EXAMINATIONS ARE GRADED

The Michigan Board of Law Examiners promulgated, administers and grades the Michigan Bar Examination. It is offered twice a year. Each time it is administered, a company of legal professionals is enlisted to get you your grade.

The Multistate Bar Examination

The Multistate Bar questions are graded by the National Board of Law Examiners. That part of your exam is automatically graded and available to the Board soon after the Bar Exam is administered.

The Michigan Essay Examination

The Michigan Board of Law Examiners is made up of 5 members.  Each member is responsible for 3 of the 15 essay questions.  To assist in the grading, the Board member hires three graders to assist in the grading. Each grader is responsible to grade one question.  The Bar Examination blue books go between each grader where the initial grades are assigned.

After the initial grades are assigned, these scores are paired with the MBE scores to determine who passed and who did not. If the score falls between 130-134, those papers are re-graded by different graders to see if any more points will be awarded. After the regrading process is complete, the Board of Law Examiners ‘curves’ the test according to an unpublished formula.  In the February 2009 Bar Examination, this added, on average, 5.66 points.  Once the adjusted scores are recorded, the official letters are sent out to the bar candidates.

How The Answers Are Graded

As to grading individual answers, the graders are looking for answers that are 1) responsive to the question asked, 2) citing the correct law, 3) analytical as to key facts and 4) come to the right conclusion.  As the grader reads over 1000 versions of the answer, they usually spend no more than 60-90 seconds to grade the answer.  They’re looking for terms of art applicable to the question, organization comporting with the Call of the question and readability.  The graders do not use the Model Answer as a grading rubric, but a ‘checklist’ or ‘tally sheet’ published in-house to speed the process.  In as much as the grader reads the same question over and over, they are quite familiar with what should be present in the answer.

No one claims to get it right each time.  Subjectivity, fatigue and misreading an answer are all possibilities why an answer may not get the credit it deserves or gets greater credit than would be warranted.  The graders are trying to find the credit you deserve but more importantly they are upholding the integrity of the test.