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Interpreting Your Score Sheet
posted on in CABar by BarProse

We'd like to share some tips from our tutors on how to interpret the numbers on your score sheet from the July 2016 CA Bar Exam.

Here We Will Review...

  • Scores on the Written Portion
  • How to Review Essay Scores
  • MBE Scores
  • Passing Score requirements

Scores on the Written Portion

Essays and PTs are scored on a 0-100 point range. Most essays and PTs will receive between 40-80 points. Essays are worth 100 points, while PTs are worth 200 points. The final score on each PT is doubled to calculate the final "raw" score. In other words, 1 PT is worth 2 essays.

Your raw score is calculated by adding up all the points you earned in your essays. Typically, a 620 raw score is needed to pass. A 620 raw score will usually result in a 1440 "scaled" score. The scaled score is how the bar adjusts scores to a curve, just like law school. 1440 is the goal for your written scaled score.

How to Review Essay Scores

When looking at your essay score, look for any particularly high or low scores. Think about why you may have scored high or low. You can review the essay questions from July 2016 on the State Bar's website (not available at the time this blog was originally posted).

The ideal essay and PT score is 65, or higher. Lower scores are often due to missed issues or missed analysis. If your scores are consistently below 65, you may be struggling with issue spotting or analysis. We highly recommend reviewing your essays now, and comparing them to the model answers when they are released (see link above).

Don't just ask yourself whether you spotted the issue, but look at how your analysis differs from the model. Also, fight the urge to downplay missed issues as minor. If it is in the model answer, it was necessary to pass.

Ultimately, the only way to develop your essay writing skills is to practice. Work on the subjects you are the weakest in. Spot the issues, use as many facts as you can. Write as many practice essays as time allows. The substantive law is usually not the reason why students receive lower scores, weak issue spotting and analysis are.

MBE Scores

A 1440 scaled MBE score will put you on track to passing. If your score is lower than that, we recommend practicing with real MBE questions to improve. California has consistently been one of the highest performing states on the MBE, making it tough for you to stand out among your peers.

Passing Score Requirements

Your final score is calculated by weighting your scaled written and MBE scores. Your scaled written score is worth 65% of the final grade and the scaled MBE score is the remaining 35%. A 1440 is required to pass.