The Michigan Bar Exam Essay Grading Rubric has been updated by the Michigan Board of Law Examiners within the last couple of years. In fact they just updated their Rules, Statutes, and Policy Statements (which you can find here).
Below is the most recent Michigan Bar Exam Essay Grading Rubric promulgated by the Michigan Board of Law Examiners.
Michigan Bar Exam Essay Grading Rubric
Score of 10
A Score of 10 demonstrates the highest degree of competence in response to the question. While not reserved for a perfect answer, a 10 answer demonstrates a full understanding of the facts, a complete recognition of the issues presented and the applicable principles of law, and an excellent ability to reason to a conclusion A 10 answer is clear, concise, and complete. A score of 10 is not reserved for the single “best” answer that a grader may encounter to a particular question or on a particular examination. A grade of 10 may be assigned if the grader believes that the applicant has done an exceptional job considering the time and circumstances.
Score of 9
A score of 9 demonstrates a high degree of competence. A 9 answer demonstrates a full understanding of the facts, a nearly complete recognition of the issues presented and the applicable principles of law, and a good ability to reason to a conclusion. A 9 answer is clear, concise, and complete. A score of 9 is not reserved for a near perfect answer.
Score of 8
A score of 8 demonstrates clear competence in response to the question. An 8 answer demonstrates a fairly complete understanding of the facts, recognizes most of the issues and applicable law and reasons fairly well to a conclusion.
Score of 7
A score of 7 demonstrates competence in response to the question. A 7 answer demonstrates an adequate understanding of the facts, an adequate recognition of most of the issues and law, and adequate ability to reason to a conclusion.
Score of 6
A score of 6 demonstrates some competence in response to the question but is inadequate. A 6 answer demonstrates a limited understanding of the facts, misses significant issues, misses some of the applicable law, and demonstrates limited reasoning ability.
Score of 5
A score of 5 demonstrates marginal competence in response to the question but is inadequate. A 5 answer demonstrates a weak understanding of the facts, misses significant issues, fails to recognize applicable law, and demonstrates inadequate reasoning ability.
Score of 4
A score of 4 demonstrates only limited comptence in response to the question and is seriously flawed. A 4 answer demonstrates little understanding of the facts or law and little ability to reason to a conclusion.
Score of 1-3
A score of 1-3 demonstrates fundamental deficiencies in understanding facts and law. A 1-3 answer shows virtually no ability to reason or analyze.
Score of 0
A score of zero should be assigned only when the applicant makes no attempt to answer the question, or when the answer shows no reasonable attempt to identify or address the issues raised by the question.
Do the Graders really follow the Michigan Bar Exam Essay Grading Rubric?
Graders are human beings. Most appear to at least try to follow the grading rubric. However, we have found:
- Some graders appear to grade very harshly and give quite low scores to most answers, despite the overall quality of the answer
- Other graders appear to not read answers very closely, which results in over- or under-scoring
- Most graders value the conclusion more than appears to be represented by the Michigan Bar Exam Essay Grading Rubric. If you arrive at an incorrect conclusion, more points than deserved are sometimes taken away. If you arrive at a correct conclusion, more points than deserved are sometimes awarded. This is why we recommend that you do not begin an essay answer with a conclusion unless you are fairly confident in your conclusion.
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