How, Exactly, did New York Grade That Bar Exam?

The New York State Board of Law Examiners managed to foul up this year’s bar exam, as readers of this space know, by losing many of the essay answers that had been submitted on laptops.

I covered it when 400 answers were still unaccounted for at the end of August: New York Bar Examiners Still Can’t Find Complete Essay Answers.

And after the results were made known 11 days ago, and the examiners claimed to have taken educated guesses on the missing results, I wrote about it here: NYS Bar Examiners Do Grade Approximation For Missing Exam Answers

But over the holiday weekend, this anonymous comment appeared on my site, claiming that credit was given for an essay with no answer, and the same credit was given for an essay with a great answer. And there was no indication that this person was told his/her essays were part of the missing ones:

Here’s a fair summary (having taken the test, having intense problems down loading and uploading the test) and failed: I left one NYS essay blank. (Ran out of time) I received a 3/10. That’s odd…But then, on the essays I KNEW–KNEW so well that I was practically jumping for joy as I took the test–I received a 3/10 on those as well.

BOLE claims they have informed all those who had computer essays lost–I suspect not. I have written away for my answers and I will be intensly interested to see how that blank esay scored a 3/10…I suspect they were ALL blanks, because of the uploads.

If anyone else is in this prdicament, please chime in. There are a few attorneys that specialize in this, and I’ve contacted a few.

Which leaves all to wonder, especially those that were given a failing grade, exactly how the Board Examiners actually graded the essays. Or if they did at all.

Addendum: There is some discussion at Above the Law about the continued weirdness of the NY exam, and as to the legitimacy of the comment, and understandably so. I am reprinting an exchange from that site where I gave the reason I thought the comment was legit:

Anonymous: Most likely story: 1) Guy is a moron – gets 3/10 on ‘esay‘ he KNEW; 2) BOLE sees blank essay – thinks guy had software problem; 3) BOLE gives guy 3/10 on blank essay, which is his average from the other essays.

Me: That was also my initial reaction. But the writer seems to indicate that s/he was not notified that s/he had a missing essay.

And the fact that the comment was submitted on an 11-day old post (actually 7 days at the time it was made) on a small blog meant it was likely to only be seen by a few, so a hoax didn’t seem likely either.

This gave it a certain ring of truth.

We’ll see if it amounts to anything.

2nd Addendum 12/16/07 – There is an appeals process that BOLE has not publicized: New York Bar Examiners Will Entertain Appeals Over Laptop Problems

Links to this post:

blawg review #137
if it’s december, it must be time to trot out another dante-themed blawg review! following the inferno-themed blawg review #35 and the purgatorio-themed blawg review #86, the divine comedy’s third cantica, paradiso, provides the theme
posted by Colin Samuels @ December 03, 2007 3:01 AM

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5 Responses Leave a comment

  • Anonymous 2007.12.10 at 15:45 | Quote

    I believe I am in a similar situation. SecureExam contacted me in late August and asked me to upload my exam again. I found out that I failed the exam, and my essay scores seem entirely inconsistent with my knowledge of the subjects tested. I requested copies of my essays and I’m anxious to see what was actually graded. Is it possible that the final versions of my essays were not saved? Instead the examiners graded only a portion of my answer?

  • Eric Turkewitz 2007.12.10 at 19:42 | Quote

    I don’t know what the examiners did, but you don’t seem to be the first one with that complaint.

    I’m curious as to how this will all look once those that obtain their answers actually see what happened.

  • Eric 2007.12.11 at 13:08 | Quote

    I experienced the laptop problem and was unsuccessful on the exam by only a very slim margin. I requested copies of my essay answers and while they are not missing an essay wholesale, portions of two of my essays are incomplete and missing. BOLE admitted that whatever they sent me was all they had and was what they graded, thus the graders did not have the benefit of my complete responses. When I contacted BOLE they suggested I write to the executive director and request some sort of a ‘review.’ I questioned them about this since the Boards official policy is not to entertain appeals of the exam results, and was told that BOLE has been receiving a lot of correspondence from candidate’s attorneys requesting their exams be reviewed and that the Executive Director was accepting these requests and that the Board would investigate and “try to come up with something.” I do not know what to expect but I will request a review as well.

  • youngblood 2007.12.16 at 18:50 | Quote

    Well, that makes three of us. I failed and requested my essay answers. Like many, the second essay was glitched on the PC.
    I just received my essays – there are two print outs from essay #2!!! And it wasn’t my lowest grade. Did they grade both of them or just one?
    And the essay I thought I hit out of the park, didn’t even get a 6
    This is so frustrating to not know the whole truth.
    I am doing my best to concentrate on February’s exam, but since I failed by such a slim margin, I have doubts in my mind.
    The thing I worry about is: so I send a request for BOLE to review my exam and then I sit for Feb 08. Are they going to know that when the review is under way?
    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, er New Amsterdam and I don’t like it

  • Eric Turkewitz 2007.12.16 at 19:05 | Quote

    Youngblood:

    There is an appeals process that BOLE has not publicized:

    New York Bar Examiners Will Entertain Appeals Over Laptop Problems

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