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July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam Recap

Congratulations on being done with the July 2020 Michigan bar exam!  Considering the unprecedented nature of all of the surrounding circumstances, it is a huge accomplishment to have made it through!  Well done! Below you will find our July 2020 Michigan bar exam recap.  Please note that due to the online nature of the exam, examinees were not able to keep hard copies of the questions.  Thus, these thoughts are based solely on post-exam reports from examinees.  If you have anything you want to share about the exam, please let us know!

July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam Recap

1. Technical Glitches

We clearly have to address the elephant in the room.  Many examinees experienced technical issues with ExamSoft before the second module, although things appeared to have run relatively smoothly after that from a technology standpoint. Examinees who experienced this understandably felt increased levels of stress and anxiety.  If you felt that this may have affected your performance, you are certainly not alone.

We at least hope to reassure you in knowing that others felt the same way and that you had every right to feel the way that you did.  These issues also had the unintended consequence of causing some examinees to start the modules at different times, which might have led to examinee confusion.  No doubt these were some unfortunate circumstances. COVID-19 put the Michigan Board of Law Examiners in the unenviable position of having to come up with a remote bar exam in short order. Thankfully, there were not widespread issues throughout test day!

2. Subject Selection

Interestingly, the subjects tested on the July 2020 Michigan bar exam appear to be nearly identical to those that were tested on the February 2020 exam.  Based on reports, the only differences look to be that Trusts was tested instead of Wills, and Sales was tested instead of Agency.  The Examiners had clearly been favoring Wills as of late. Thus it was not too surprising to see Trusts finally make a reappearance.  Sales was also reasonably due to turn up, so this was not shocking either.  Perhaps the back-to-back testing of Workers’ Compensation and Equity was more surprising as we do tend to see more variance in essay-only subjects tested between administrations than this.

3. Issue Selection

For the most part, it did not seem like the specific issues tested were completely unexpected.  Equity, Personal Property, Civil Procedure, and Torts were among the questions that tested some very common issues (although that is not to say that the questions were easy – there are often some tricky components to even the most frequently-tested issues!).  Many of the other questions tested issues that have appeared in essays before.  If you reviewed past essays and studied issues that have turned up in the past, you were likely very well prepared!  We were also pleased to see that many of the tested issues were covered in our seminar.

4. Some Tricky Questions

Of course there were some questions that caused a lot of confusion.  We’ve heard varying opinions on the Constitutional Law question already, with the Sales question also causing some uncertainty.  And based on reports, the Criminal Procedure question seemed to be quite involved!  Something on the exam likely surprised you, which is perfectly normal.  Remember that it was always going to be impossible to know everything. So some issues might have been personal trouble spots for you.  That’s okay!  You do not have to score perfectly, or even all that highly, to pass the Michigan Bar Exam. In fact, on recent exams, if you get the equivalent of (about) a 6.5 out of 10 you will pass!

If you struggled with this exam – whether you struggled with timing, or didn’t write what your classmates wrote – you are not alone! Many examinees have these challenges.  Also remember that if you struggled with a question, others probably did too. You will be graded in that light. Even if you got an answer “wrong” you will not get a 0 for the question as long as you wrote something.

Finally, know that it’s over.  There’s nothing you can do about it now, and you can’t change anything that you wrote.  Please don’t dwell on your responses!  Do your best to put the bar exam out of your mind for a few months – you deserve a break!

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