CA bar exam essay grading myth...

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Angel66

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CA bar exam essay grading myth...

Postby Angel66 » Mon May 21, 2018 7:19 pm

The California bar exam's essay grading system still seems to be a myth to me. I understand the process they disclosed on the state bar's website of preventing too much subjectivity (multiple graders; average score; blah blah blah...) However, in terms of the actual points they assigned to each essay, does any one have any idea how it works? For example, is it true that all issues tested on the essay will amount to exactly 100 points, with 2.5 to 5 points allocated to each small issue/rule/analysis/conclusion? Or is it possible that they have so many issues to test on a single essay that in an ideal world, a PERFECT essay can score more than 100 points? I've never seen any real graded essay which shows 2.5 to this, 5 to that... etc. The scores that each essay got seems to be based on very subjective standard, rather than going against a checklist (at least I haven't seen that). :roll:

Can someone please explain? Thanks.

JoeSeperac

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Re: CA bar exam essay grading myth...

Postby JoeSeperac » Mon May 21, 2018 8:49 pm

Essay scores are unreliable and there is simply no realistic way to perfectly rank-order the essays (especially when the grader is only spending a few minutes on each essay). For example, on one exam a few years ago, a number of examinees scored well on all their essays except for a single essay on Wills. After looking closely at the essays, I surmised there must have been a new grader due to this inconsistency and he was grading the Wills essays too harshly. There are so many variables that affect essay scoring that make it an unreliable measure of an examinee’s ability. For example, let's suppose I was a bar examiner and I wanted to know how consistent my graders were in grading essays. Since there are 7-8 graders per essay, all I would need to do is give the same examinee's essay to each grader (without telling them) and see how consistent they are. California did this in 1976 (graders were told to mark each essay pass or fail) and found that graders were consistent only 67% of the time (for every two graders that marked the essay a PASS, one grader marked it a FAIL). One would think that the bar examiners would perform this type of check with every exam - it barely takes any time and provides valuable insight into the reliability of grading. However, there is no such report of a bar examiner conducting such a study since 1976. The absence of such a study makes you wonder why. If the bar examiners are not testing the accuracy and consistency of their graders, I regard that as bar examiner malpractice. If the bar examiners are testing their graders and the results demonstrate the consistency of the graders, one would think the bar examiners would release these reports to demonstrate the competence/reliability of their graders to instill confidence in the accuracy of the grading system. However, if the bar examiners are testing their graders but not releasing the results, it likely means the results are so varied and unreliable that it would be embarrassing to release them. This is what I think happens.

FinallyPassedTheBar

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Re: CA bar exam essay grading myth...

Postby FinallyPassedTheBar » Mon May 21, 2018 9:05 pm

Take this for what it's worth, but on one of my essays a few years back I scored a 55. Later, while reviewing on BarEassys.com, I read an essay for the same question. That essays scored a 75, and it covered the exact same issues I covered, with generally the same analysis.

Angel66

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Re: CA bar exam essay grading myth...

Postby Angel66 » Tue May 22, 2018 1:44 am

Thank you both for the information you provided. Very helpful...

I'm also curious what's the real "passing score" for the essays/PT? Someone says you need to hit at least 65, but it seems that by hitting 65, you need to write almost a perfect answer, i.e. no single major issue can be missed; rules are spelled out correctly; analysis is solid.... From baressays.com, it's clear that few people can actually do that. It seems that the passing score for the written portion is insurmountable, IMHO. :cry:



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