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evidence mbeMichigan Bar Exam Appeal Passage Rate Drops Dramatically: We have been meaning to post about the Michigan bar exam appeal passage rate for some time.

The February 2016 Michigan bar exam appeals were released a few weeks prior to the July 2016 Michigan bar exam. Michigan bar exam passage rate statistics by school were released shortly after that.

It was not as easy to calculate the number of appeals that passed for the February 2016 Michigan bar exam because the Michigan Board of Law Examiners’ did not publicly announce these statistics. Ordinarily, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners’ releases a post on “statistics before appeals” and “statistics after appeals.” This round, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners’ only released statistics after appeals.

However, statistics before appeals were still released to law schools and other individuals. We were able to see this information, and we were surprised by what we saw. The statistics before appeals revealed that 318 people passed. The statistics after appeals reveal that 323 people passed. So, only 5 people passed the bar exam on appeal in February 2016. (If you are wondering: 1 person from MSU Law School passed, 1 person from Cooley passed, and three from out of state schools passed. No students from WSU Law or UDM Mercy passed that we are aware of.)

Five appeals is a very low number of appeals to pass. This is a drastic cut from the (still low) number of people that passed the February 2015 and July 2015 Michigan bar exam on appeal. On both of the 2015 bar exams, 10 students passed on appeal each administration.

The fact that the Michigan Board of Law Examiners’ is passing so few appeals is concerning. They may be doing it because they didn’t want to raise the passage rate too much. Indeed, the passage rate for the February 2016 Michigan bar exam was 64%. While a 64% passage rate sounds low — it is not that low for a February bar exam. Many states (like California, New York, Arizona, etc.) have passage rates of less than fifty percent for their February exam. So 64% is pretty high.  Especially for a February exam. And especially for Michigan.

And indeed, passing five appeals raised it exactly one percent:

  • 318/497 takers is a 63.98% passage rate.
  • 323/497 takers is 64.98% passage rate. Thus, passing five appeals raised the passage rate 1 full percent exactly – nothing more, nothing less.

If they would have passed 10 appeals, the passage rate would have been raised to 65.99% — another full percent.

I am not saying that the Michigan Board of Law Examiners’ has a quota (they deny it when asked.) But I am saying that five appeals is a very low number to pass and I am wondering why they chose to pass so few appeals.

Note that in the past, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners’ has passed appeals which resulted in raising the passage rates by more than one full percent. However, note that the passage rates were already lower to begin with.

  • In July 2015, 503/811 (62.02%) passed after appeals and 493/811 (60.78%) passed before appeals.  This was a 1.24% increase.
  • In February 2015, 313/538 (58.17%) passed after appeals and 303/538 (56.31%) passed before appeals. his was a 1.86% increase.

Perhaps raising the passing statistics to a rate higher than a 65% passage rate was too high for them. Or perhaps they weren’t impressed by the appeals they saw. We’ll see if the trend of passing a low number of appeals continues for the July 2016 Michigan bar exam.

  • Looking to Pass the Bar Exam on Appeal?

    Check out our information on Michigan bar exam appeals here. JD Advising founder and her partner founded the Heidemann Jabbori law firm, which wrote all of the passing appeals in Michigan for the July 2018 Michigan bar administration.