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What Your Michigan Bar Exam Score Report Means

A lot of people have called us and asked us to explain what their Michigan bar exam score report means. We figured we’d try to make it easier by putting a breakdown of the Michigan bar exam score report in this blog post.

Dissecting your Michigan Bar Exam Score Report

michigan bar exam score reportThe top of your score report will say your seat number and whether you passed or failed. Then it will tell you the following scores:

Multiple-Choice score: It will say “Your examination results reflect an MBE scaled score of ________” This is your MBE (multiple choice) score. A 135 is considered to be a passing score. Thus, if you were above a 135, your score was passing. If you scored below a 135, the farther away from a 135 you were, the more work you have to do to pass.

Essay score:  Next, it will list the scores you received on the individual essays (below the corresponding number)  as well as the total score.

A score of 7 is considered passing. A 10 is a perfect score.

Next, the score report will say, “Your converted essay score was ______” A 135 is considered to be a passing score.

You can use your score report to see if you did better on your MBE or the essay portion of the exam. For example, if your MBE score was a 120, you have some work to do on the MBE. If it was a 135, you just passed the MBE. The same would go with the converted essay score. This will tell you if you need to focus on the MBE or essays more.

Overall Score: Lastly the report will say, “Using the above calculations you have (PASSED/FAILED) the State Bar Examination with a combined score of ________.” This combined score will basically average out your MBE score and your essay score.  This number needs to be a 135 or higher for you to pass. There is no minimum passing score for either portion of the exam.


These are only general recommendations and it does not mean I believe these are true for each individual person. Sometimes extenuating circumstances (i.e. timing issues, anxiety) lead students to get lower scores than they otherwise would.

  • If you scored between a 132 and a 134, it is worth it to consider an appeal. If an appeal is not doable or unsuccessful, then at least you are not far from passing! You will still want to dedicate as much time as you can to the next bar exam as possible to make sure you pass the next one, but your score should be encouraging to you.
  • If you scored between a 124 and a 134, you are also pretty close to passing. You have some work to do, so you should still take the next bar exam very seriously and honestly assess your weaknesses to make sure you do not repeat the same mistakes.
  • If you scored between a 114 and 123, you may have quite a bit of work to do. I recommend a different approach to the bar exam – a smaller group course, private tutor, or extended time to study.
  • If you are at a 113 or below, you may have a lot of work to do. It is possible that you are missing fundamental concepts of law or that you are having a lot of trouble answering multiple-choice questions or writing in an essay style that the Board of Law Examiner’s prefers to see. You may need an extended time to study and a new approach (particularly private tutoring or a small group approach) is recommended.

Note also that these general recommendations are geared toward first time takers. If you are on, say, your fourth time taking the exam, my advice will be different than if you have only taken it once or twice.  I also take into account whether a student had timing issues (i.e. if you didn’t finish three essay questions then your score will be lower and thus, my recommendation may be different than above), anxiety issues, or other challenges. I always tailor my recommendations to the individual’s needs using their score and their personal circumstances. The above statements constitute a very general guide!