MEE Grading & Scoring
What You’ll Learn:
- How the MEE is Graded & Scored
- MEE Grading Standards
- How an MEE Score is Determined – Raw Scores and Scaled Scores
- The Total Percentage Weight of an MEE Score (in each jurisdiction)
What You REALLY Need to Know About MEE Grading and Scoring
Each jurisdiction grades MEE essay answers using their own set grading standards. Each essay is graded on a numbered scale based on the quality of the answer. The grading scale varies per jurisdiction (i.e. 0-6, 1-10).
All written scores are combined, and then scaled using a complex formula. For UBE jurisdictions, the written portions of the exam (MEE + MPT) are combined and scaled to a number between 1-200.
Other than that, you shouldn’t really worry about the specifics of grading and scoring. Your main focus should be on studying the law, essay practice so you write an excellent essay answer, and comparing your practice essays to the MEE Analyses released by the NCBE.
We have included more grading specifics below if you’re really interested, but feel free to skip the rest of this chapter, especially if you’re short on time.
The specifics on grading and scoring (reviewed below) get very detailed. Feel free to skip the rest of this chapter if you’re not interested or short on time.
How an MEE Score is Determined (Raw Scores → Scaled Scores)
Outlined below is the entire process of how an examinee’s MEE score is calculated:
- Step # 1: Each essay answer is graded and given a “raw score” using relative grading. The score given is based on the quality of the answer, and the grading scale varies per jurisdiction (i.e. 0-6, 1-5). “Relative grading” means scoring and ranking the essay answer “relative” to the other examinees’ answers in that jurisdiction.
- Step # 2: The written raw scores are combined, and then scaled to the MBE. This is the examinee’s “scaled score”. Specifically, the combined “raw score” is scaled to the mean and standard deviation of the Scaled MBE Scores for that examination. Scaling adjusts for possible differences in average question difficulty and grader performance across different administrations of the examination.
- For UBE Jurisdictions, an examinee’s scores for the MEE and MPT are combined, which comprises the examinee’s combined “written raw score” for the exam. This combined written “raw score” is then scaled putting the written raw score on a 200-point scale. Specifically, the combined “raw score” is scaled to the mean and standard deviation of the Scaled MBE Scores for all examinees of the examinee’s respective jurisdiction (the state in which you take the bar exam). This means that an examinee’s written portion is scaled “relative” to the other examinees’ answers in that jurisdiction.
- Step # 3: The total written “scaled score” is weighted accordingly, depending on how much the written component is worth for that jurisdiction’s bar exam. For UBE jurisdictions, the total written “scaled score” is 50% of the total exam score (30% for the MEE + 20% for the MPT).
Total Weight of MEE Score
The MEE is worth 30% of your total exam score in most states – including all UBE jurisdictions, such as New York and New Jersey.
In other jurisdictions, the MEE/essays is normally worth between 30% and 45%. Some jurisdictions have additional state essays and/or have a minimum passing score for the MEE/essay portion.
Below is a chart showing how much the MEE is worth in each jurisdiction.
|Jurisdiction||MEE / Essay %||Notes|
|D.C. – District of Colombia||30%|
|Hawaii||see note||The 6 MEE questions, 2 MPT tasks, and 15 Hawaii ethics multiple choice questions are equally weighted 50% of the exam score.|
|Illinois||40%||Includes 3 Illinois Essay Questions|
|Kentucky||see note||Avg. score of 75 required for written component. Includes 6 Kentucky Essay Questions.|
|Mississippi||45%||Includes 6 Mississippi Essay Questions|
|South Dakota||see note||Avg. score of 75% required for written component.|
|Wisconsin||see note||Administers varying combinations of MEE, MPT, and local essays. The weight of each component varies per exam.|
|Guam||38.9%||Includes 1 Essay Question based on local law|
|Northern Mariana Islands||30%||Includes 2 Local Essay Questions|
|Palau||see note||Must score 65 or higher on each component. Includes Palau Essay Exam, consisting of 4 to 5 questions.|
MEE Grading Standards
All MEE jurisdictions use “relative grading”, which means scoring and ranking the essay answer “relative” to the other examinees’ answers in that jurisdiction. Under relative grading, each essay question is graded on a numbered scale based on the quality of the answer. The grading scale varies per jurisdiction (i.e. 0-6, 1-10).
Many jurisdictions do not release their grading standards or grading scale, but a few states do.
Here are the grading standards and scale for Washington State.
|Score||Grading Scale Explanation|
|6||A 6 answer is a very good answer. A 6 answer usually indicates that the applicant has a thorough understanding of the facts, a recognition of the issues presented and the applicable principles of law, and the ability to reason to a conclusion in a well-written paper.|
|5||A 5 answer is an above average answer. A 5 answer usually indicates that the applicant has a fairly complete understanding of the facts, recognizes most of the issues and the applicable principles of law, and has the ability to reason fairly well to a conclusion in a relatively well-written paper.|
|4||A 4 answer demonstrates an average answer. A 4 answer usually indicates that the applicant understands the facts fairly well, recognizes most of the issues and the applicable principles of law, and has the ability to reason to a conclusion in a satisfactorily written paper.|
|3||A 3 answer demonstrates a somewhat below average answer. A 3 answer usually indicates that it is, on balance, inadequate. It shows that the applicant has only a limited understanding of the facts and issues and the applicable principles of law, and a limited ability to reason to a conclusion in a below average written paper.|
|2||A 2 answer demonstrates a below average answer. A 2 answer usually indicates that it is, on balance, significantly flawed. It shows that the applicant has only a rudimentary understanding of the facts and/or law, very limited ability to reason to a conclusion, and poor writing ability.|
|1||A 1 answer is among the worst answers. A 1 answer usually indicates a failure to understand the facts and the law. A 1 answer shows virtually no ability to identify issues, reason, or write in a cogent manner.|
|0||A 0 answer indicates that there is no response to the question or that it is completely unresponsive to the question.|
For other MEE jurisdictions, we have confirmed the following raw essay grading scales (see chart below). If you know a grading scale that isn’t listed, we would appreciate that you contact us so we may include it.
|Jurisdiction||Essay Grading Scale (Raw Scale Per Essay)|
|Arizona||Each written answer is awarded a numerical grade
from 0 (lowest) to 6 (highest).
|Arkansas||Scale ranging from 65 to 85|
|Illinois||0 to 6 point scale|
|Massachusetts||0 to 7 point scale|
|New Jersey||0 to 6 point scale|
|Vermont||0 to 6 point scale|
|Washington State||0 to 6 point scale|
Even if you are taking the bar exam in another jurisdiction that uses a slightly different raw grading scale, you can still use the Washington State example above as a guidepost as to what is considered a high scoring essay answer. The above grading standards can also be used to self-grade your practice essay answers.
Additional Resources on MEE Grading & Scaling
If you’re interested in more details on MEE grading and scaling, please see the following articles:
- Essay Grading Fundamentals by Judith A. Gundersen, The Testing Column, The Bar Examiner, March 2015.
- Q&A: NCBE Testing and Research Department Staff Members Answer Your Questions by NCBE Testing and Research Department, The Testing Column, The Bar Examiner, Winter 2017-2018.
- It’s All Relative—MEE and MPT Grading, That Is by Judith A. Gundersen, The Testing Column, The Bar Examiner, June 2016.
- Procedure for Grading Essays and Performance Tests by Susan M. Case, Ph.D., The Testing Column, The Bar Examiner, November 2010.
- Scaling: It’s Not Just for Fish or Mountains by Mark A. Albanese, Ph.D., The Testing Column, The Bar Examiner, December 2014.
- What Everyone Needs to Know About Testing, Whether They Like It or Not by Susan M. Case, Ph.D., The Testing Column, The Bar Examiner, June 2012.
- Quality Control for Developing and Grading Written Bar Exam Components by Susan M. Case, Ph.D., The Testing Column, The Bar Examiner, June 2013.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Scaling Written Test Scores to the MBE by Susan M. Case, Ph.D., The Testing Column, The Bar Examiner, Nov. 2006.
- Demystifying Scaling to the MBE: How’d You Do That? by Susan M. Case, Ph.D., The Testing Column, The Bar Examiner, May 2005.