Which States Allow Bar Exam Appeals?

This is not an easy question to answer, as it is not clear exactly  the number of states that allow bar exam appeals. Many state websites information is outdated or not completely clear. Moreover, many stats have altered their bar exam appeals policy after adopting the UBE. At the date of this article the following state allow bar exam appeals:

  • Indiana Pursuant to Indiana Supreme Court Admission and Discipline Rule 14: “All applicants who have achieved a combined scaled score of 255 to 263 shall be eligible to appeal. The eligible examinees must make a written request to appeal on forms provided by the Board within fourteen (14) days of the date of mailing by the Board of the eligible examinee’s results. No response other than the written request to appeal is permitted. In the appeals process, all of an eligible examinee’s responses shall be subject to review by the Appeals Reviewers. Multistate Bar Examination scores will also be available to the Appeals Reviewers”.
  • Michigan: Michigan allows test-takers to send in their essays for appeal and to write a persuasive brief detailing why their scores should be higher.
  • Mississippi: Mississippi allows appeals and for the test-taker to appear at the appeals. “A failing applicant may petition for a review of his examination, excluding the MBE. A Petition for Review shall be verified under oath by the applicant shall designate the specific questions claimed to have been substantially misgraded. Requests for review shall be limited to particular questions on the MSE examinations and on the MEE and MPT on which the applicant received a raw score of less than 75.0% of the maximum raw score points assigned to that question. The Memorandum shall particularize how the grade awarded is unjustified by the merits of the answers. The Petition of Review, will be received by a committee of not less than three members of the Board, who reviews all papers on which the applicant alleges error in grading. The Board shall therewith forward to the Court applicant’s Petition together with copies of examination questions (excluding the MBE), model answers, or other analyses used in grading the examination, and the original of applicant’s answer.”

The following states allow bar exam appeals based on an extraordinary reason:

  • Connecticut: Test-taker must demonstrate a clerical error has been made or that the Committee’s grading procedures have been violated, for a bar exam appeal to take place.
  • Iowa: A petition to the Supreme Court may be filed in extraordinary circumstances. See Rule 31.11.
  • Utah:  “Failure was because of a substantial irregularity in the administration of the examination that resulted in manifest unfairness or because of mathematical errors in the scoring of the Applicant’s examination”. Read more here.
  • Note: There may be more states that allow appeals for “extraordinary circumstances.” The best way to find out is to call or email your state board.

The vast majority of states have no appeals process that we are aware of or that can easily be discovered. (If you want to see what scores you need to pass the bar exam in your specific state does, see this) 

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