If you failed the Michigan bar exam and are considering writing your own appeal, we have a plethora of posts that can help you win your Michigan bar exam appeal. In this post, we talk about the five most common mistakes that students make when writing their bar exam appeals.
Learn from the five most common mistakes we see students make so that you do not make these same mistakes!
Update 1/1/23: Michigan no longer allows examinees to appeal their bar exam score! We will no longer be writing appeals for Michigan Bar Exam takers.
How to Win Your Michigan Bar Exam Appeal by Avoiding the 5 Common Mistakes That We See Students Make
The top five mistakes that we see students make when writing their Michigan bar exam appeals are as follows:
Mistake #1: They don’t appeal enough questions. Some students make the mistake of only appealing one, two, three, four, or five questions that they truly believe in. This is a mistake. If you want to win your Michigan bar exam appeal, you have to appeal as many questions as you possibly can! Obviously if you received a score of 10 on a question, you cannot appeal it. Also, if you received a grade that was truly much higher than deserved (for example, if you received a score of 6 on a question where you really missed the boat, you probably shouldn’t appeal that question or you risk losing your credibility.) However, you should appeal everything else! If you get disheartened when you read your essays and you really don’t feel as though you can appeal more questions, have a friend or coworker read it over to see if they can help you. (Or send it to us for our review and we will let you know our thoughts!). We always try to appeal 9 questions when we write bar exam appeals (but on average, we appeal closer to 10-12 questions per appeal). For related information on requesting points,, please see this post called How Many Points Should I Request on my Michigan Bar Exam Appeal?
Mistake #2 They don’t write honestly. This is the opposite end of the spectrum of those who make Mistake #1. These students talk about how their answers are completely flawless and deserve scores of 10, when really there is much left to be desired. It is true that some answers are completely on-point and deserve scores of 10. However, the high likelihood is that not all of your answers deserved a score of 10!
Honest writing means admitting when you make a mistake. If your answers are similar, say that. If your answers add something the model answer does not, say that. If you make a mistake, admit that you made a mistake but that you still deserve more points for whatever reason. Be honest. This maintains your credibility and makes it much more likely that you will be awarded points. For more tips on how to draft a Michigan bar exam appeal, please see this post.
Mistake #3: They are unrealistic when writing their appeal. For example, they try to appeal their bar exam score of 125-130. These scores are extremely hard to successfully appeal given the large amount of points you would need to pass. You should be very hesitant attempting to appeal your bar exam score if you need that many points to pass. If you are unsure if you should appeal your score, we recommend you do the following:
- Read this post: Should I appeal my Michigan bar exam score?
- Figure out how many points you need on appeal by reading this post.
- Lastly, call us and we will let you know what we think! We are happy to let you know what we think and review your essays for free!
Mistake #4: They get off track. Every single bar exam, almost without fail, I have a student call me and tell me they are writing a “unique” appeal − one that says how they are an asset to community, what organizations they are involved in, and how they would help the world if they were awarded enough points to pass on appeal.
We are all about creativity, but none of these appeals that we have seen has been successful. If you want to include that kind of introduction to your (more traditional) appeal, it probably won’t hurt you. But we have never seen it help either. (If you do go the route of a “unique” appeal, make sure you are abiding by the appeals guidelines you are sent by keeping yourself anonymous.)
Mistake #5: They try to write it themselves when they should hire a lawyer. It is definitely possible to write a winning appeal yourself (and we see it happen!), but if you don’t have much time or if you are not a good writer, or the thought of having to spend 40 hours on an appeal makes you sick, then spend the money now to hire an attorney. (We have this post if you are unsure whether you should do this: Should I Write my Own Michigan Bar Exam Appeal or Have Someone Write it On My Behalf?) It may seem like a lot of money to spend – and it is! However, there could be monetary upsides to passing sooner too — the sooner you are licensed, the sooner you can start making more to cover the cost of the appeal! (Not to mention, if you win your Michigan bar exam appeal, you won’t even have to sit through the next bar exam!)
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