Wednesday, October 17, 2007

For Those Of You Who Have Yet to Take the Bar

Being that this started as a blog about law school I thought I'd take a moment and actually explain a few things. Some people (read: Law Students) seem to know nothing about the bar exam. Which I sympathize with, since I only knew what I was told from an attorney I worked with. Clearly this isn't exhaustive and doesn't address things like the MPRE or Character and Fitness, nor is it accurate for all states, but it may help give some of you a clue. I would also like to apologize in advance for the grammatical errors I am sure this post will be full of, as I am far too tired to proofread it and I'm really only writing it after a string of questions from a friend who was clueless.

The majority of states (everywhere except Washington and Louisiana) require students to take the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). It's a 200 question multiple choice test which is administered on something like the 2nd to last Wednesday in July and February. The test is then scaled across the nation and, at least in my state, the scaled score is used in calculating your final score. The scaling is very secretive and I have no idea how it works. The MBE covers:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts/Sales (U.C.C.)
  • Criminal Law/Criminal Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Property
  • Torts
In my state, if one has a high enough score on the MBE they can "multistate out" by attaining a high enough score and your essays don't really count. PMBR prepares bar takers exclusively for the MBE while BarBri prepares bar takes for the MBE and Essay portions.

States also give an essay portion which usually covers a wider range of topics and in some states "re-tests" the MBE subjects-only you also need to know the distinctions for the state you are sitting in. I am also told some states also give their own multiple choice portion in addition to the essay portion. States administer their essay portions on varying days. Some on Tuesday, some on Thursday. Some have 2 days. Some stretch it out and give essay portions on Monday and Friday, so you're tested for an entire week. The varying schedule of state essay portions and the ability to transfer scores allows some (sick) people to take 2 bars. Who would ever want to take the essay portion of one state, the MBE and then fly to another state to take another essay portion is beyond me, but people do it.

The formula in Michigan to compute your final score is rather complex.

Basically, they take into account that the maximum on the MBE is 200 while the maximum the essay portion is 150 and then compute an average. In Michigan, if you score a 150 on the MBE your essays are graded for "good faith". Otherwise you need to have a score above 135 using the above formula.

Don't say I never warned you.


Anonymous Law Student said...

aLs appreciates this information. Thankyou.

Another Asian Law Student said...

perhaps the most useful info ive read in law school. thanks