Cryptic Statement by BLE = Stranger Topics tested on the Michigan Bar Exam?
Occasionally the Michigan Board of Law Examiners will make some kind of weird statement that confuses me. Like when they posted that students could no longer wear watches to the exam. Or when they announced their “improved scoring system” which didn’t seem that improved.
The BLE made another statement recently. . . but before we go into that, first some background on the Michigan bar exam.
A typical Michigan bar exam tests these fifteen subjects (give or take). Sometimes they switch it up and test No Fault instead of Torts or Secured Transactions instead of Sales. But a standard bar exam doesn’t have anything super-surprising in it. The July 2015 bar exam, for example, was very standard in terms of the subjects it tested.
Nonetheless, despite the fact that the same subjects are repeatedly tested, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners has always made it very clear that examinees are expected to know all 24 subjects that they list in rule 3.
That is why students, every single bar exam, sit through torturous four-hour Conflicts lectures (then spend even more time learning Conflicts law!) and memorize strange laws about negotiable instruments and commercial paper and equity (all subjects that have been tested exactly once in the last ten years) and email me that they are convinced that a question about the Detroit bankruptcy is going to appear on the bar exam (it hasn’t so far). And suffer through paranoia and mini panic attacks when studying Secured Transactions. And find joy in doing things like negotiating instruments in clever ways. Usually, all for nothing, since these subjects don’t regularly appear on any bar exam.
However, despite that this is the way it has always been, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners’ posted this odd statement under “NEWS”. Anybody who is waiting for results and refreshing the Michigan Board of Law Examiner’s website as much as I am can’t help but notice the statement directly under news which states:
Bar Examination Essay Topics – Examinees must be knowledgeable about all essay topics listed in Board of Law Examiners Rule 3. The Board may test on any of these areas of Michigan law.
Here is how it looks on the site:
I assumed, of course, that Rule 3 changed. Why else would it be considered news? But I looked up Rule 3 and it has not changed since July 2014.
So…thanks for confirming what we already know?
It is hard to ignore this odd statement. The fact that they published it actually makes me think that they might test an unusual topic or two the next bar exam. This is coupled with the fact that recently a new board member was added and a new president appointed to the Board of Law Examiners (the second and third items of news on the site!). Maybe this is odd their way of warning students that less traditional topics being will be tested on the upcoming bar exams? I hate to contribute to the paranoia that students already feel about the bar exam but even I’m a little paranoid now and I’m not even taking the bar exam.
If you have any thoughts about this, please post below and let us know what they are!
Update Post-February 2016 Michigan Bar Exam: The BLE did indeed test unusual topics on the February 2016 Michigan bar exam! It tested Agency (which it has not tested since July 2006!) and Conflicts (which it has not tested since July 2008!). It also tested Wills instead of Trusts and Secured Transactions instead of Sales (which are not all that unusual). They certainly did mean something by this cryptic statement. It will be interesting to see if they keep the trend going for July.
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Trackbacks & Pingbacks
[…] following subjects are definitely worth it to review (especially after the cryptic statement made by the BLE recently); however they are simply not as important as the above subjects since they do not appear […]
[…] was a strange exam!!!! We predicted that stranger topics would be tested on the Michigan bar exam after the BLE released this cryptic statement last July (and that DEFINITELY came to fruition!) but even we did not expect a Conflicts and Agency question […]
[…] They thought it was a harder bar exam (testing Agency and Conflicts) and wanted to boost the essay scores because of it. In reality, it truly was a hard bar exam – it contained a tricky double jeopardy question, a very difficult evidence question, and myriad other questions that students had trouble with. But, to be honest, it was not super-hard compared to essay exams given in the past. (For example, see July 2014 where they added a flat 34 points to everyone’s score!) Even the “unusual” subjects that they tested contained very predictable issues. (Anyone who bought my How to Pass the Michigan Bar Exam book or listened to any speech of mine would have known to memorize the issues they tested in Conflicts, Agency, and Secured Transactions.) They even warned us they would be testing unusual subjects (as my blog readers and students know!) […]
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