How Is The Uniform Bar Exam Scored?
How is the Uniform Bar Exam scored? In this post, we break down how to combine your MBE, MEE, and MPT scores to see what you need to pass!
How Is The Uniform Bar Exam Scored?
What is the UBE?
First of all, the Uniform Bar Exam is a bar examination written by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). 34 states administer the exam. It is a 2-day test given twice each year – in February and July. The test takes place the last Tuesday and Wednesday of each of those months.
Day One of the exam is the written portion, consisting of 6 essays (the MEE) and 2 performance tests (MPTs). Day Two consists of 200 multiple-choice questions (the MBE).
The written portion and the multiple-choice portion are each worth 50% of the total score on the UBE. The entire test is scored on a 400-point scale. Each jurisdiction sets its own passing score. Although the minimum score needed to pass varies by jurisdiction, the minimum passing score ranges from 260 to 280.
How is the Written Portion Scored?
Although the UBE is administered in 34 states, each state has the discretion to grade the test however they see fit. That being said, each jurisdiction that administers the UBE allocates 40% of the written score to the MPT and 60% of the written score to the essays. In other words, the MPT is worth 20% of the total score and the essays are worth 30% of the total score.
Each state hires its own graders to grade the written portion of the bar exam. It is important to remember that these graders are most likely practicing lawyers, not law professors. Each grader uses a grading rubric to score your answer. They are only going to award points for things the examinee mentions that appear on the grading rubric. This is unlike a law professor who might award additional points for a particularly creative argument or a unique point that others did not consider.
It is also important to remember that graders are paid by the essay. That means, the faster they work, the more money they make! Graders will not spend a significant amount of time reviewing an answer and trying to figure out ways to assign additional points. After the graders get comfortable with the content of the essays they are grading, we suspect that they simply skim the essays to see if the examinee mentioned keywords and phrases.
Some states have published information about the grading standards they use to grade the MPT and MEE portions. For example, some states use a scale from 0-6 to grade the MPTs and MEEs. Other states use a scale of 0-10. Other states, such as New York, use a different scoring scale altogether. Many states then use an undisclosed formula to convert the raw scores to scaled scores.
We strongly recommend that you check online to see whether your state has released information about its scoring methodology.
How is the Multiple Choice Portion Scored?
The multiple-choice portion of the bar exam, otherwise known as the MBE or multistate bar exam, consists of 200 questions. The NCBE only scores 175 of the 200 questions. The remaining 25 are unscored “test” questions used to evaluate questions in future administrations.
Each correct answer on the MBE is worth one point. The NCBE then takes this raw score and scales it according to an undisclosed formula. According to the NCBE, “This statistical process adjusts raw scores on the current examination to account for differences in difficulty as compared with past examinations.”
As explained above, that scaled MBE score is worth 50% of the total score on the bar exam. To figure out the converted MBE score needed to pass the UBE, take the total passing score in that jurisdiction divided by two. For instance, if your jurisdiction requires a 266 to pass, then a 133 is a “passing” MBE score. Note, however, that you do not necessarily need a minimum of 133 to pass the bar exam. Your multiple-choice score and written score must average at least 133. So, a higher score on the written portion could lower the score required on the MBE portion. For instance, if you achieve a score of 150 on the written portion, you would only need a 116 on the multiple choice portion.
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