How do grading and scoring work for the California Bar Exam?

“i WeNt tO lAw ScHoOL bEcAusE i SuCk aT mAth LOL”

I can feel a blood vessel dilating in my head and an urge to throw my keyboard out the window every time I hear someone say this. If this is your idea of a joke, just leave Earth now before things get more embarrassing for both of us.

While it isn’t politically incorrect for Americans to brag about deficiencies in their math skills, I won’t have that around here.

First of all, stop using this self-deprecatory language. You took the SAT and a shitload of math classes until you were old enough to drive. You can do basic math. Or “maths” if you’re British and like to make words unnecessarily complicated (Worcestershire sauce anyone?)

You are also capable of passing the bar exam btw.

Second of all, despite my optimism and faith in you people, why are some of us still confused about how the grading works for the California Bar Exam? Why are there so many misconceptions?

If you’re frustrated and confused by the numbers, let me put a rest to this once and for all.

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Remote/Online Bar Exam Logistics and Strategies

You’re probably wondering how this whole remote bar exam thing is going to work.

  • Do I get scratch paper?
  • Can I use a desktop?
  • How many monitors can I use for ExamSoft/SofTest/Examplify (or whatever exam software)?
  • Do I need to be online?
  • Can I print?
  • Are they going to proctor me through a camera?
  • Can I take bathroom breaks?
  • What about cheating?
  • What about the MBE? How many questions? Is it all on a screen?
  • What if I’m handwriting?

Uh, yeah, I’m sure you have a lot of questions.

Right now, all the states are having a brawl and doing whatever they feel is necessary to conduct their bar exams.

Many states are shifting from in-person paper testing to an almost entirely digital exam, at least for the 2020 Fall bar exam. This is a significant change, and something worth discussing in terms of preparation and test-taking strategies.

This post will address two things:

  1. Updates and further findings on testing mechanics for taking a remote bar exam. See below for information on all states, but the initial focus here is on California
  2. Strategies for preparing for and taking a test entirely on screen, assuming your state is administering the exam online and doesn’t allow paper for at least some portion

Btw I’m not going to call this an “online bar exam” because it’s done almost entirely OFFline. Just the check-ins sessions require an Internet connection.

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Feeling Stuck and Burned Out with Bar Prep

It seems like time is continuing to expand along with the universe—agony stretching as bar examiners keep pushing exam dates back like a girl who isn’t really into you.

Isn’t more time good, though?

What do you do when you’re frustrated with your progress?

Are you even acknowledging the frustration, or are you actually dismissing it?

I was having a conversation with a coaching client for the California Bar Exam. Here’s an excerpt:

For non-CA takers, each CA essay is scored out of 100 raw points. 65 is considered on track to pass the exam and a target benchmark. 70 is solid. An 85 is rarely obtained.

To summarize, here are his issues:

  • Practicing essays takes too long
  • He feels he wastes time by overwriting the analysis
  • He wants to write in his own way and limit the analysis

What would be your feedback here? Think about it before I share my suggestions on getting clearer on an approach you may be taking as well.

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